Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Knicks Gets Stoudemire Amid Rebuilding Stage, but Need LeBron at Garden

It’s a no-brainer within a doleful sporting community that the biggest and cleverest makeover happening on Fifth Avenue is the New York Knicks, reducing all the ridiculous signings and additions that tragically dragged down the richest franchise for all the ill-advised upgrades.

There’s a brighter chance the Knicks will intensify the volume in New York, louder than the typical opera heard daily on Broadway -- the active location in an urban environment that will soon welcome Amar’e Stoudemire, an aspired superstar ready to contend in a high-market business and hoist a champion. It’s virtually clear that he’s a needful prize amidst a free-agency frenzy, when all the focus swirls around the recruiting bid revolving LeBron James -- the more attractive megastar during the most anticipated free-agent class in NBA history.

And while it’s the biggest class for sale in the market, not to mention the most hype generating mysteries and speculations, the Knicks cleared a bundle of salary-cap space last winter and intended to reach an agreement with James. But it figured that New York was more intrigued in signing a big man to mend the interior game and build a massive post game.

For a very long time, the Knicks lacked a powerful roster and haven't been thrilled by much success since the 1990s era, when they were deeply artistic and effectual and when they had the beneficial pieces such as Patrick Ewing, Allen Houston and John Starks. The local residents in the Big Apple are gushing over Stoudemire, who can sign an enormous contract for five years and worth $100 million no later than Thursday, breathing a sign of relief and having much gratitude in the recent upgrading.

He delivered remarkable dunks in the desert, aggressively ran the floor and had self-awareness, an energized and useful necessity formerly uplifting the Phoenix Suns when he was a resident in the desert the last eight seasons. For those of you not familiar with his productivity and scoring ratio over the last eight years, he had polishing numbers and averaged a staggering 21.4 points per game with a 54.4 field-goal percentage, though he had an easier task sharing the ball with an elite point guard, Steve Nash, who dishes off quality passes and stockpiles assists.

While some are worried whether his prosperous post presence and scoring would descend, Stoudemire can rise and be a remedy on an unlucky franchise that had issues and were delayed by draining misfortunes. Surely, he heightens the chances in Madison Square Garden, despite that he’s not the captivating attraction all New Yorkers admire watching in the world’s most famous venue.

It’s unveiling that he will draw a national audience and expand ticket sales for a depleted crowd within a high-market region, a location where temptations and expectations are immense. No disrespect to Amar’e, but he’s not King James. However, he’s the new addition and a marquee player to earn significant stardom without even officially signing his signature on documents.

It was only a matter of time before the Knicks and Stoudemire reached an agreement, when executives were leaning towards grabbing the 27-year-old center/forward during his tour in the lively town and after spending hours at owner James Dolan’s party last night, all indicators that he was close to finalizing a deal with the Knicks.

As the basketball lords wait anxiously for James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh to decide their futures, Stoudemire toured the sites of the Big Apple and began his pleasant afternoon having brunch with Mike D’Antoni and then glanced at fireworks at Dolan’s summer estate. It was clear that if he had attended a Yankees game, he would have been implored and pampered at the colossal palace where the enthusiastic fans gulp on expensive ribs and purchase a glass of beer, becoming intoxicated before the seventh inning stretch comes.

My guess is that he felt welcomed, sitting behind home plate with his agent, hearing the warm receptions and amiable chants. What’s interesting to see now is whether the Knicks could woo James, who might be willing to join Stoudemire and elevate his legacy in a city where the fans have tampered and recruited for the premier prizes in free agency, realizing Amar'e somewhat has an interior presence and if James does come to New York he can be a counterpart -- but a missing piece that could dismay Cleveland.

While the presence of a global megastar would build a foundation and be an increase in revenue, based on his enthralling accomplishments and proficient traits on the court, he’ll wait until after a three day Nike camp in Akron is over, a festivity he’s hosting for the top high-school recruits.

Realizing that it would be awkward to participate with his native town and work with growing prospects outside of Cleveland, James is expected to make an announcement and sign by the end of the week, whether his new address is at South Beach, at his rocking town, at Brooklyn, or even at Madison Square Garden.

But as of now, the Knicks formally met with Stoudemire to organize a deal that will benefit his living arrangements and solidify his chances to winning a championship. It’s obvious that his presence will make an immediate impact, but it may take a few seasons before the Knicks contend on the grandest platform.

“I feel great about being a pioneer and showing my leadership,” Stoudemire told reporters at Madison Square Garden.

But sometimes there are hidden flaws when you wonder about his blemishes, of course, when it involves Stoudemire, a 6-foot-11 forward who has battled with ailments and defensive inefficiencies. Remember, he had four knee surgeries and microfracture surgery, but played at an all-star level in the postseason as the Suns benefited by his physicality and effort.

Not long ago, they advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time under D’Antoni in Phoenix. With a much-improved Stoudemire, maybe he will tighten the fragile defense and help the Knicks erase their bungles. Last season, the Knicks failed miserably in stopping penetration and defending the perimeter, allowing opponents to shoot a league-best 48.6 percent, the obvious evidence that D’Antoni is best known for his up-tempo style offense.

Some will consider it a risky and ill-advised move by guaranteeing Stoudemire with a max offer. In this situation, it’s not bad to take such a risk, given all the helpless travails and what he can bring to the table, with his incredible size advantage and instrumental force in the middle. If the Suns would have offered him a max contract for five years, and if he was assured a profitable paycheck and more minutes, he may have considered staying in the desert instead of departing elsewhere.

This offseason, the rebuilding project has been done brilliantly, following the clever business plans by president Donnie Walsh and D’Antoni, who both brought much hope to the town two years ago and gave reason for Spike Lee to believe in the rebirth of the Knicks. As for the troubling nonsense in Phoenix, you wonder if Stoudemire can monitor his self-control and attend all team meetings, unlike a few years ago when he was dispirited about undergoing rehab and was careless about his teammates and coaching staff.

There were moments when he felt disengaged and worthless, distancing himself from his teammates and became a cancer within a diverse organization that was bothered by an uproar. But even though he was a saboteur, Stoudemire is solely appreciated and admired heavily for his assurance and energy.

If he wanted, he could be a general manager today, following his announcement that his motive was to persuade San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Denver’s Carmelo Anthony, who are both confident of building a Superteam in New York and playing with Stoudemire -- aiming to win his first title and obtain eminence in a new environment.

His self-proclaimed nickname is STAT—it’s not representing statistics—but signifies how to “Stand Tall and Talented.” At least we know he has matured and mellowed as a reliable teammate, a commodity missing at times in Phoenix and caused much disappointment for his underperformance.

But now, he’s the biggest building block for the Knicks, a gigantic man joining a franchise with a sturdy front-court if the Knicks re-sign center David Lee and hold on to forward Danilo Gallinari. Meanwhile, there are enduring questions whether James will join forces with him and dish off passes, playing alongside Stoudemire, a post-present and pick-and-roll player.

For now, he gives us something to gush over.