Knicks Rumors: Amar'e Stoudemire Should Accept Bench Role Upon Return to Team

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06:  Amare Stoudemire #1 and head coach Mike Woodson of the New York Knicks talk on court against the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Things are good for the New York Knicks. The team has wins over the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, Raymond Felton has been an excellent replacement for Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony has been more than just a pure scorer this season (though he's done that quite well, too).

In all, the Knicks have started 12-4, and they've done so without star forward Amar'e Stoudemire, who hasn't played this season after having surgery on his left knee.

Of course, that raises a few questions: Can Stoudemire and Anthony coexist? Will Stoudemire return to the starting lineup when he returns? Could he be a trade chip this season?

Stoudemire would be wise to prepare himself for a bench role when he first comes back. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, that's just what he's doing:

A source told The Post recently Stoudemire realizes if the Knicks are winning at a solid clip, he expects to come off the bench at the outset. Last week, coach Mike Woodson wouldn't commit to Stoudemire as a starter but said he's committed to having the Stoudemire/Carmelo Anthony union work out. Stoudemire continues to undergo rehab and treatment but the club will not reveal what that entails.

There's been speculation there were talks between the Lakers and Knicks about a Stoudemire-Pau Gasol trade but a source claims nothing took place.

As Berman noted in that article, Stoudemire is gunning for a return in the vicinity of Christmas. If the Knicks are still rolling, Stoudemire should take some time to shake off the rust in a sixth man role.

He has to know two things: First, you don't tweak a good thing. If the Knicks are on fire in mid-December, the team can't experiment too much with its winning formula.

Secondly, the Knicks aren't going to just let a $19 million player rot on the bench. He'll either eventually be returned to the starting lineup or he'll be traded. The Knicks aren't going to pay him that kind of money to play 25 minutes a game.

Frankly, trading Gasol for Stoudemire makes a lot of sense to me. Gasol isn't a great fit in Mike D'Antoni's system, whereas we already know Stoudemire thrives under his old coach. Meanwhile, in Gasol, the Knicks could add a true power forward and allow Anthony more freedom on the wing.

I would imagine the Los Angeles Lakers would want a little bit more in return for Gasol than the expensive, injury-prone Stoudemire. However, you can't tell me they wouldn't be at least a little intrigued by the possibility of a Steve Nash, Stoudemire and D'Antoni reunion in LA.

The name of the game is patience for Stoudemire. One way or another, things will work out for him this year. 

Even if they work out in a new city.


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