Now that Andrea Bargnani is in the fold for the next two seasons, the New York Knicks have begun to discuss a possible minutes cap for disappointing star Amar'e Stoudemire. The cap would limit Stoudemire to no more than 20 minutes per game and would possibly prevent him from playing both ends of back-to-backs.
Stoudemire is under contract through the 2014-15 season and will make north of $20 million during each season. Limiting him to 20 minutes per contest is obviously a failed return on the team's huge investment, but it may be the only way to keep Stoudemire completely healthy over the course of an 82-game season.
The former All-Star has missed time during each of his three seasons in New York. He missed only four games in 2010-11, but proceeded to miss 35 games in 2011-12 and 53 games this past season. Of the 29 games he played in last season, Stoudemire started none and played just 23.5 minutes per game.
Stoudemire never exactly meshed well with Carmelo Anthony, making it difficult for the two to coexist with the Knicks. Injuries hampered Stoudemire's production even more, and will likely be relegated to bench duty for the remainder of his career. A minutes cap would be beneficial to all parties involved, however.
Bargnani, a healthier and younger option at power forward, has more upside for the Knicks. Stoudemire is a liability given his shaky knees and he isn't the same post player that he was in his latter years with the Phoenix Suns. Stoudemire still has the natural talent to play well in spurts, though, so a bench role is ideal for him.
Stoudemire's versatility off the bench would be useful for head coach Mike Woodson. He has extensive experience at both frontcourt positions, so he could feasibly spell both Bargnani and Tyson Chandler throughout the course of a game. With NBA lineups starting to become more and more in favor of smaller players, throwing the 6'10" Stoudemire in at center would work well to defend such lineups.
Limiting his minutes could also help the Knicks get the max return on their massive investment. The team obviously expected much bigger things from Stoudemire during his tenure in the Big Apple but, seeing as no team would risk trading talent for an oft-injured big man, this would be the best course of action for general manager Glen Grunwald. If Stoudemire can at least provide a little production off the bench, then it'll be hard to deny the Knicks' smart handling off the situation at hand.
The kicker in this scenario is seeing how well Stoudemire takes to playing so few minutes. A bona fide starter for nearly his entire career, Stoudemire will have to adjust to a much lesser role. He's already given into the team's wishes and been one of the first player's off the bench, but he could be even farther down the depth chart in the new role the Knicks are envisioning for him.
The Knicks have been active in the first few days of the free agency period, and Stoudemire's new plan for the future could have major implications on the way the rest of the offseason is handled by Grunwald.
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