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Round 2 of Amar'e-D'Antoni won't work
The first go-round with Amar’e Stoudemire and Mike D’Antoni in Phoenix featured vehement private and public complaints on both sides of their precarious partnership. And there’s little reason to expect the outcome of their reunion in New York will be any different.
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For his part, D’Antoni did little to conceal his profound displeasure with Stoudemire’s lack of interest in playing defense as well as with his low basketball IQ. But here it is two years later, and Stoudemire continues to believe blocking shots is all the defense he needs to play. Moreover, playing screen/roll with Steve Nash and making angle cuts in Nash’s wake have done nothing to elevate Stoudemire’s understanding of the game. Not even by osmosis.
On the other hand, Stoudemire publicly complained his ex-coach lacked a sufficient focus on defense. This belief was, of course, right on. But the only semi-rational explanation for Stoudemire’s saying this was he actually believed his own defensive shortcomings were strictly D’Antoni’s fault.
Ah, but the two former antagonists broke bread with each other in New York over the weekend and emerged to proclaim that all of their former differences have been successfully resolved.
Does this mean Stoudemire actually is impressed with the Knicks’ sad-sack defense during D’Antoni’s tenure? Or has D’Antoni become convinced Stoudemire will suddenly prove to be a basketball Einstein as soon as he dons a Knicks uniform?
Could anything be more ludicrous?
However, it’s reasonably certain New York will, sooner rather than later, sign some other free-agent superstar. But because another of Stoudemire’s constant laments throughout his career has been he never gets enough shots and not enough sets are run through him, why would the likes of LeBron James or Dwyane Wade have any desire to play with him?
Indeed, just as John Stockton was the main reason Karl Malone’s numbers were so impressive, Stoudemire’s stats were mostly dependent on being fed cookies by Nash. Even if LBJ and/or D-Wade joins Stoudemire in the Big Apple, neither of these two players, as great as they are, can come close to equaling Nash as a facilitator.
In order to truly develop his game, Stoudemire needs structure. D’Antoni’s so-called system, which he has characterized as “organized chaos,” will do nothing to broaden Stoudemire’s on-court horizons.
Yes, he’ll score lots of points, block an occasional shot, make an occasional pass and snatch an occasional rebound, but no matter whom else the Knicks lure to New York, Stoudemire will remain an incomplete player.
In addition, Stoudemire’s uninsurable knees and past eye injuries make giving him a max contract a huge gamble — one that the desperate Knicks can’t afford to lose.
Even more dangerous is the multitude of high-style goodies available in New York, temptations that an immature young celebrity like Stoudemire will find difficult to resist. Indeed, his barely post-adolescent mind-set is exemplified by the growing roll call of agents he has haphazardly hired and fired.
So forget about Stoudemire and D’Antoni making amends, forget about the happy faces and bright-eyed platitudes that will emerge in the news conference that announces the signing. And forget about the promises of championships that inevitably will be won when or if the Knicks sweep the board of top-notch free agents.
These are the essential reasons Stoudemire has decided to re-up with D’Antoni:
• Phoenix was dullsville, Chicago is merely the second city and Miami is a comparatively low-budget franchise.
• New York, however, is where the action is.
• And, most importantly, New York is where the money is.
In short, despite whatever further roster moves are made, New York and Stoudemire have joined forces for all the wrong reasons.