By John Schmeelk
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There’s been a lot of revisionist history going on the past few days as Amar’e Stoudemire heads to yet another knee surgery as Knicks fans lament the more than $40 million still owed to their oft-injured power forward over the next two years. The common refrain is that the Knicks should never have taken the chance of signing Stoudemire, and either kept David Lee instead or used the money elsewhere.
If that decision could be made in a vacuum, there’s an argument to be made, but that’s not how real life works.
If Stoudemire doesn’t nearly singlehandedly return the Knicks to respectability in 2010, does Carmelo Anthony demand a trade to the Knicks? I think not, but there’s no way to know for sure. As many numbers as Lee puts up, anyone that thinks he is as good of an offensive player as Stoudemire is crazy. He is just as bad defensively. The Knicks would have had a much worse record when Anthony decided that this is the place he wanted to be. Lee does not have the same pull as Stoudemire, and that’s an indisputable fact.
There is one other thing that I can call a fact: Tyson Chandler would not be a Knick if Anthony was not in New York. He only came to New York because he thought the Knicks could win a championship. The Knicks would not have been considered contenders by Chandler if their core was Ray Felton, Lee, Danilo Galinari and Wilson Chandler. Also keep in mind that the combination of Lee, Gallinari and Chandler would be costing the Knicks more than $30 million a year in cap space. Those guys were not going to come cheap. It’s only a little less than Anthony and Chandler make combined.
The fact of the matter is that we don’t really know where the Knicks would be if they never signed Stoudemire. Maybe Melo would have come, and maybe not. Would Chandler be with the team? Probably not, but who knows? The exercise is truly pointless. The only thing that can be said is this: The Knicks are 38-23, and it’s the most games they have been over .500 in 10 seasons. Are they truly championship caliber? Not quite, but they are in the top 10 in the NBA. That’s much better than any Knicks fan could say for a long time.
Winning a championship is the ultimate goal, but it is extremely difficult. Could the Knicks be closer if Stoudemire was healthy? Of course they would be. But the Knicks knew they might have to pay the piper at some point with a five-year deal for Stoudemire. It has come sooner than they would have liked, but this was the risk they took. This wasn’t unexpected.
It stinks to experience it here and now, but it’s hard to say it wasn’t worth it since it was the first domino that made the Knicks a team that currently holds a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference. The good and the bad have come together. It was always going to be the case when the team rolled the dice on Stoudemire.
Are the Nuggets really that much closer to a title after the Anthony trade, with the same amount of money over the cap and little chance of competing with Oklahoma City anytime soon? They don’t even have a go-to offensive player down the stretch at the end of games. In the end, the Anthony trade worked for both the Nuggets and the Knicks, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just because it didn’t immediately morph the Knicks into the Heat doesn’t make it a failure.
There’s only one LeBron James.
Knicks fans need to see the forest from the trees, and appreciate where they are now. It’s not perfect, but it might just be a better spot than two-thirds of the teams in the NBA. Maybe in the next year or so, a draft pick or a trade puts the Knicks closer to the Heat. Worst comes to worst, the Knicks can decide to start over after 2014-2015, when nearly all of their contracts come off the books. The reboot wouldn’t be instant, but with New York as a draw it wouldn’t take forever, either. Remember the last 10 years, Knicks fans. Think about Eddy Curry, Jerome James and Stephon Marbury.
Isn’t this much, much better?
- On Monday night, Anthony more or less played on one leg. He looked as bad as I’ve ever seen him in a Knicks uniform. He was dragging the entire game. Despite the game being a blowout, Mike Woodson played him 33 minutes. That’s more than any other player. It might be one of the dumbest things I’ve seen in a long time. The Knicks’ decisions are sometimes beyond belief.
- The more I think about it, by the way, the more annoyed I am at Anthony for deciding not to have his knee drained because he is “afraid of needles.” It’s a common procedure that is supposed to fix exactly what he has: fluid in his knee with no structural problems. Why is Anthony making these medical decisions anyway? Once again, this is beyond dumb. The Knicks need to tell him that the knee is going to be drained. There should be no choice involved.
- Finally, if it is really going to take two weeks of rest for Melo to get his knee right, then give it to him. The team needs him 100 percent for the playoffs, not the imposter that showed up Monday night.
- The Knicks’ effort wasn’t there on Monday night, and they didn’t shoot well, either. It was a total no-show. These games do happen from time to time, so I won’t lose my mind about the game until I see if they give a better effort against Denver. The Knicks tried very hard in their three games before the trip, and they need to get back to that type of defensive vigor. If they don’t, this is going to be a very long West Coast swing that could turn them into a middle seed in the Eastern Conference.
- The J.R. Smith flagrant two foul was bogus — How is a foul a flagrant two when he gets one or both hands on the ball? — but it’s not like he or the rest of the team even showed up to play anyway. The whole group should have just gotten themselves ejected in the first half and saved the 90 minutes of bad basketball. On the bright side, since it was such a blowout, I got to watch The Walking Dead episode I had on my DVR. Silver linings.
You can follow me on Twitter @Schmeelk for everything Knicks, Giants, Yankees and New York sports.
Was the Amar’e Stoudemire signing a good one or a bad one for the Knicks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…