A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Why the Knicks should consider the WTF move: Dumping the Amare Stoudemire era now

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Amare Stoudemire

(Image by Keith Allison via Flickr)

One of my biggest pet peeves recently is the assumption by Knick fans and others that it’s possible for the team to acquire Chris Paul or Dwight Howard next summer as is. It isn’t. For one, the team doesn’t have the capspace next summer with Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony combining for 40 million in salary alone. When this is pointed out, the answer is that the Knicks will force the team to trade for them. With what? The trade assets they don’t have? It’s not like they’re sitting on James Harden and Serge Ibaka to throw at the Hornets for Chris Paul. Their most valuable young player is Landry Fields. That won’t cut it. There’s almost no way for the Knicks to be in the position to get Chris Paul or Dwight Howard without either the capspace or trade assets that other teams have.

Thus what is more likely is this. The Knicks two best players a year from now are still Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. The team is a decent playoff knockout and has little way to improve from that point on without any extra assets or capspace, until Amare’s health inevitably betrays him. Is this something the Knicks fans want? After the “Isiah and Eddy Curry decade” as it will forever be remembered, it’s a slight improvement in entertainment, but the goal should be to win the title eventually.

There is one way I can see the Knicks future being rosy. It’s daring, it’s crazy to outside fans, but the logical underpinning is there: Get rid of Amare right now. Even ignoring Amare’s health concerns long term, the problem with the Amare contract is that it’s the single thing blocking their 2012 aspirations. Without it the Knicks would have Carmelo Anthony, the allure of playing in New York and max free agent capspace one more time next summer. With Dwight Howard, Deron Williams and Chris Paul’s free agencies next summer and the only other plum destination being the soon to be Brooklyn Nets, they are set up for a huge score by getting Howard or Paul. If Deron and Dwight team up in Brooklyn, where else does Paul turn if he wants out of New Orleans? The LA Clippers? I doubt it with Sterling’s reputation with players. Furthermore, I really do believe the Knicks would move in the driving seat for Howard for anyways. The Brooklyn Nets are appealing, but the Knicks’ history and finance/fame oppurtunity is on a different level. That’s why Carmelo wanted to go to New York as well.

With Paul or Howard as true superstars beside Carmelo, the Knicks can finally build a legitimate title contender. What’s even more, if Amare was amnestied this summer, they could go out and still spend on one of the two free agent PFs – David West and Nene. Carmelo and one of those PFs should combine for 30 million in salary next summer, which leaves enough room to sign a max free agent. And what better way to ensure Chris Paul leaves New Orleans than to take his best teammate for under his nose? There’s even a contigency, mostly made of advanced stats and +/- guys, who think Nene is a better player than Amare Stoudemire anyways due to his defensive play and high efficiency finishing game – and we know he fits well with Carmelo. Though it can be argued Nene doesn’t want to go back into his shadow.

It’s about risk vs reward. By folding the Carmelo and Amare combination cards, the Knicks aren’t risking a ton. They would likely be a merely decent playoff knockout long term with them together. They simply don’t have the assets or capspace to improve much from this point on. Even if they strike out next summer, Anthony and depth players would still enough to be a playoff knockout anyways. One could make the case the Knicks could build a contender with Anthony and 2/3s of their cap open for depth as easy as with Amare, Carmelo and scraps anyways. So the risk isn’t that huge. But if they do this and hit a home run next summer with Howard or a healthy Paul, who arguably play at a top 30 players of all time level at their best, the Knicks can legitimately contend for a title immediately. That’s why they should take this chance. Since they decided on the summer of 2010 plan to get Lebron, “pretty good” was not the goal. The goal was the home run Miami hit last summer. New York still has a chance to hit that home run and make all of this worth it – and the best way to do that is to make the ballsy move and get rid of Amare now to give themselves that chance.

Written by jr.

November 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm

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