It has been a long journey for Amar'e Stoudemire in New York.
His first year, he was a revelation. Given the keys to the marquee franchise in the NBA (or at least the loudest) and playing amazingly well. Stoudemire was an MVP candidate for crying out loud.
That was a long time ago. The Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony and the focus of the team shifted away from the once athletic power forward. It did not help that Stoudemire's troublesome knees continually acted up. Since that relevatory first season, Stoudemire has played in only 76 games and eight playoff games. In 2013, Stoudemire appeared in only 29 games and four Playoff games.
Even though the Knicks are coming off their first Playoff series win, Stoudemire has been on the sidelines trying to make his way back to being the All-Star sidekick Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks need.
Right now, Stoudemire just wants to play long enough to contribute at all. That is the only way he can help his team. He told Sports Illustrated he only hopes to stay healthy this season and his concern is not on his role with the team (h/t Ian Begley of ESPN New York):
It's not moreso about accepting the role of a sixth man or starting. It's moreso staying healthy and trying to prolong my body and my career and be the best I can for the Knicks.
Throughout the summer, Stoudemire and the Knicks have had to answer questions about Amar'e coming off the bench or starting and whether Stoudemire, known throughout his career as a high usage player, would accept the bench role. What Stoudemire seems to be saying is none of that matters if he cannot be healthy and get through the entire season.
The time for debates about player roles will come if Stoudemire can prove he is healthy and can prove he can contribute. For now, it seems like the Knicks will limit him to 20 minutes per game and hold him out of back-to-backs. They will be cautious with Stoudemire knowing what lies ahead if the Knicks are to advance even further in the Playoffs this year.
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