Last year at this stage of the season, Amare Stoudemire was the toast of New York. Every time he stepped to the foul line during games at Madison Square Garden, Stoudemire was serenaded with, “M-V-P!” chants and was cited as the catalyst for the resurgence of the Knicks.
These days Stoudemire and the Knicks are struggling to a degree that the inevitable trade chatter is beginning to heat up.
According to a league source, the Sixers have inquired about Stoudemire, though it was categorized as “due diligence.” Nothing is said to be imminent or even in the early stages other than just talk, the source said. Nevertheless, in past seasons the Sixers were reportedly discussing trade scenarios with the Phoenix Suns in order to acquire Stoudemire. Whether or not the Sixers can afford Stoudemire, of course, is an issue too. Stoudemire is the ninth-highest paid player in the NBA after signing a five-year, $100 million contract before the 2010-11 season. He earns $18.2 million this season, $19.9 million next season and approximately $45 million between 2013 and 2015.
Incidentally, the Knicks are also paying a similar five-year deal out to forward Carmelo Anthony, a player whose arrival in New York snubbed out those M-V-P! chants for Stoudemire. Since arriving in a trade with Denver, Anthony has maintained his career averages by taking nearly 20 shots per game. The trickle down is there hasn’t been much room for Stoudemire in the Knicks’ offense. This season Stoudemire is scoring just 17.6 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting, down from 25.3 points on 50.2 percent shooting last season. When he arrived in New York, Stoudemire was the focal point of the offense, squeezing off more than 19 shots per game.
This season he is getting a little more than 15 shots per game.
Certainly Stoudemire and Anthony coexisting would not be an issue if the Knicks were winning. At 7-12 heading into Saturday’s action, the Knicks were picked by some pundits to win the Atlantic Division. The acquisition of frontline defender Tyson Chandler was supposed to mask Anthony’s and Stoudemire’s defensive shortcomings, but instead has heightened the team’s flawed offensive approach.
Nevertheless, the Sixers might have the shots Stoudemire needs. Even when center Spencer Hawes and rookie Nik Vucevic are healthy, the Sixers lack a go-to scoring and low-post presence. Plus, when hawes is in the lineup, the Sixers’ half-court offense depends on the big man’s passing ability, though passing the ball is hardly Stoudemire’s strong suit.
Stoudemire, 29, was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2002-03 and is a six-time All-Star. He also finished in the top 10 in the MVP voting in three of the past four seasons and ranks eighth amongst active players in scoring.
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