Amar'e Stoudemire wants answers.
After appearing in just 33 games this season (playoffs included), the New York Knicks superstar-turned-injury-riddled-disappointment wants to know where he stands within the organization.
Following New York's season-ending 106-99 Game 6 loss to the Indiana Pacers, he said he plans to sit down with head coach Mike Woodson and get his answers.
"We didn’t give it a chance," Stoudemire said of re-entering the starting lineup (via Marc Berman of the New York Post). "We need to understand exactly what my style of play is and what I bring to the table. It’s something I have to sit down with Coach Woody and express to him."
If Stoudemire seems frustrated, that's because he is.
Not only was he forced to battle through knee injuries all season, but he saw himself relegated to a seventh-man role and in for a total of 13 minutes in New York's final two games against the Pacers. For a six-time All-Star, that has to be difficult to stomach.
My advice to him, though? Stomach it. I've been one of Stoudemire's biggest supporters all year, but even I'll admit he's not in a position of power here.
Stoudemire has embodied a "team-first" mantra all season. He embraced his role as a reserve and willingly handed the reins of the Knicks over to Carmelo Anthony. He's made sacrifices. Boatloads of them. And it's only natural for him to be upset and confused.
But he has to understand that these were the playoffs. The Knicks didn't have time for him to play through his rust the way he needed to, let alone insert him into the starting lineup. That just wasn't an option.
If Stoudemire weren't a former All-Star earning nearly $20 million this year, he probably wouldn't have played at all. He should think about that.
Leading into next season, Stoudemire is right, the specifics of his role need to be discussed. He's owed more than $45 million over the next two seasons, so he's not going anywhere. The Knicks will have to find a place for him in the rotation, and he needs to know where it's going to be.
But now? After this loss? Before New York's roster for next season is even close to etched in stone? The Knicks can't offer him that type of clarity.
The futures of J.R. Smith, Chris Copeland, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni all need to be determined before the Knicks make any definitive decisions about next season. Free-agency and trade dust needs to settle before Amar'e can get any answers. And more light needs to be shed on his health before he begins to lodge any inquiries.
"It’s alright—as long as we won the game," Stoudemire previously said about his Game 5 benching. "That’s all that matters."
All that matters now is that Stoudemire remain patient. He's not the only one with questions.
The Knicks have plenty of their own.
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