[credit provider=”Getty Images/Al Bello”]
The New York Knicks have been desperately trying to trade Amar’e Stoudemire and his $65-million contract for the last 10 months, Howard Beck of the New York Times reports.From Beck:
“This past summer, the Knicks offered Stoudemire to nearly every team in the league — ‘available for free,’ as one rival executive put it. But they found no takers because of his diminished production, his health and his contract, which has three years and $65 million remaining (counting this season) and which is uninsured against a career-ending knee injury.”
Stoudemire was one of the best players in the NBA for a few months after he first joined the Knicks in 2010. But since the team traded for Carmelo Anthony he has struggled with injuries, and has had a confused role within the offence.
Last year his stats in points, rebounds, shooting percentage were the worst they’ve been since his rookie season.
But is he really as worthless as everyone in the league seems to think?
It’s unquestionable that Amar’e shouldn’t be the fourth-highest player in the NBA. His dismal numbers in last year’s tumultuous, injury-prone, Linsanity-disturbed season were that of a solid second-scorer who rebounded decently and played bad defence, not an elite player.
But even at his very worst, Amar’e numbers are only slightly worse than the average season for a guy like David Lee, who gets paid $13 million per year.
Amar’e is basically an $8-12 million player who is getting paid $20 million. That gross disparity is the reason no other NBA team would touch him.
But the fact that he is overpaid doesn’t mean he is worthless, and doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll ruin everything when he returns to the 19-6 Knicks over the next month.
Amar’e is injury-prone and overpaid, but he’s still an asset if coach Mike Woodson uses him in the right context.
Advanced metrics make it clear that a frontcourt of Tyson Chandler, Amar’e, and Carmelo is a losing formula. It simply won’t work because of the various spacing issues and redundancies. But there are other lineups in which Amar’e should theoretically thrive.
The optimal solution would be to bring him off the bench, giving the second-unit a scoring boost while not disturbing the fluid first-unit which has led the Knicks to a 19-6 record. He could also play centre in spurts with Anthony at power forward, or power forward in spurts with Chandler at centre.
He has value. Seth Rosenthal of Posting and Toasting concisely laid out the ways in which he could help the team in a best-case scenario:
“I see a second unit offence badly in need of (a healthy) Stoudemire’s interior presence, and I even see iterations of an Amar’e-inclusive first unit that still haven’t gotten a fair shake. I also see a defence that can’t really get worse and, if anything, could benefit from a big dude willing to protect the weak side. And above all, I see a coach who designed something beautiful and wouldn’t interfere without meticulous planning. This is mere prediction, though. All we can do is hope for the best.”
This is the trap we shouldn’t fall into — just because Amar’e is grossly overpaid and seemingly untradeable doesn’t mean that he isn’t an asset.