It's a New York reunion. It is the first major signing for the New York Knicks in order to revitalize its basketball franchise. Amar’e Stoudemire joins his former Phoenix Sun's coach, Mike D'Antoni, in New York to play for the Knicks. Stoudemire is familiar with D'Antoni's offense and his 'seven seconds or less' philosophy of pushing the ball on offense.
The first significant spending by the New York Knicks is costly. Stoudemire has "agreed to a five-year maximum contract worth about $100 million, according to a team official who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the team. The exact figures will not be known until the league’s moratorium period ends on Thursday and the salary cap is announced.
" For Stoudemire, the expectation is that he is the key to having another premier free agent consider signing with the New York Knicks. The hope is that LeBron James, Dwayne Wade or Chris Bosh will join Stoudemire in New York.
The person that Stoudemire may miss the most is Steve Nash. Playing with Nash in Phoenix, Stoudemire was able to convert precise passes into easy baskets. New York does not have a point guard who compares to Nash. The threat that Nash presents is a guard who can drive to the basket, make creative passes, shoot with accuracy from three point range and be efficient at the foul line. Critics of Steve Nash may point to his defensive deficiencies but part of that responsiblity falls upon the support given by the interior defense. And Stoudemire himself is not known as an efficient defender.
The free agency pool for point guards is thin. Would the Knicks take a chance on a player such as Jordan Farmar to run their offense? And, yes, Allen Iverson is available.
In signing Stoudemire, the New York Knicks save themselves from some embarassment. In case James, Wade and Bosh decide to play elsewhere, the Knicks do not leave this present free agency scramble with nothing. With an offense that has Stoudemire, there will be dunks and highlights from the regular season. It will stir fan interest. It is questionable how far Stoudemire can lead the Knicks in the playoffs, if he is not joined by another marquee player from the free agency pool.
If the New York Knicks fail to entice another premier free agent, they can position themselves as waiting for next year. Then players like Carmelo Anthony and Tony Parker are possible free agent targets for the Knicks. While the Knicks wait for a decision from James, Wade and Bosh, the another item on their agenda is finding a legitimate threat from three-point territory. There are players such as J.J. Redick, Mike Miller and Kyle Korver are available.
Meanwhile, the promise of an up-tempo offense and the possibility of a playoff contender will draw interest in a prime basketball market place such as New York. Nevertheless, the veterans in the free agency pool know that the signing of Stoudemire means that defense will not be a priority for the New York Knicks. Even with money to spend during this free agency period, the signing of Stoudemire may have a negative backlash for the Knicks. Players like James, Wade and Bosh know that defense leads to a championship in June. The signing of Stoudemire, plus the coaching focus of Mike D'Antoni, means that the emphasis clearly will be on offense.
The Knicks are gambling that the lure of huge dollars is enough to make New York the destination of choice and that championships are secondary. This is a business risk. Perhaps the Knicks are correct.
Amar’e Stoudemire - June 22, 2010
[photo from REUTERS/Joshua Lott]