Amar’e Stoudemire was bought out by the New York Knicks immediately after the All-Star game on Sunday. He’s been battling injury issues ever since he became part of the Knicks, but he’s still a skilled player who will be of intrigue to a few playoff teams.
My instinct tells me the two main suitors for Amar’e will either be the Dallas Mavericks or the Los Angeles Clippers. Both teams are likely to be playoff-bound, and both could use an extra big man who can still give you some offense off-the-bench to keep the second unit going.
If I had to choose, I’d bet on the Mavs. After getting rid of Brandon Wright in the Rajon Rondo trade, the Mavs are in desperate need of bodies up front. When Charlie Villanueva and Richard Jefferson are serious parts of your power forward rotation, it doesn’t hurt to take a gamble.
The Clippers are in almost the same position, except with Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis and Hedo Turkoglu instead. Same concept applies; when you are giving those players serious minutes, it’s time to start looking for other options.
You’d have a hard time convincing me that giving it to any of those four players, except maybe Jefferson, would be a better option as a go-to when the offense is stagnating on the second unit than just giving it to Amar’e in the post. His defense isn’t great, but it’s about on par with the four players I mentioned.
He may not be the player he was when he was with the Phoenix Suns, but he is still a reliable scorer. It’s important to have someone you can rely on to get you buckets off the bench, and that’s something he’s proven he can still do, as he’s still averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds per game this season.
I’m not a big fan of the buyout rule, as it doesn’t make much sense. I understand that it allows “aging veterans” the chance to go for a title run while they can instead of being stuck on a losing team, but Amar’e is 32 years old; he’s going to get another two or maybe even three-year contract this off-season from somebody. This just feels like trying to take a shortcut to success for the players, and ‘the rich get richer’ for the teams getting bought-out players.
Instead of taking the bad with the good, it’s like being a ‘veteran’ in the NBA suddenly means you are entitled to play for a playoff-contention team. The Knicks were a 52-win team two years ago; instead of bailing out, Amar’e could be part of the solution for the team, in whatever capacity he can manage. Even if you are frustrated with your team’s record, you are still being paid millions of dollars each year to play basketball; if your pride is hurt, just take a look at your bank statement and be grateful.
Then again, it is the Knicks; you can’t really say they have a ‘winning culture’ to stick with, even if they do now have Phil Jackson making decisions. Here’s to hoping that Amar’e can find a place he’s able to contribute; after all, it’s not his fault the buy-out rule exists!