Report: New York Knicks want Amar’e Stoudemire to come off the bench initially


Let’s add everything up. The Knicks are 21-9 without Amar’e Stoudemire this season. Carmelo Anthony is having the best year of his career and is a legitimate MVP candidate, all while playing most of his minutes at Stoudemire’s position.

But now Stoudemire is close to returning, and the Knicks are finally presented with the potential issue fans have been kicking around for weeks. Do they start him or do they bring him off the bench? Ian Begley of ESPN New York provides some insight:

“As long as injuries don’t necessitate otherwise, New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire will come off the bench when he returns to the team, league sources with knowledge of the Knicks’ thinking said.

The Knicks hope Stoudemire will return to the lineup Tuesday at home against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The team would like Stoudemire to come off the bench initially, though sources cautioned there is a possibility he will have to return as a starter because of injuries. Carmelo Anthony was to miss his second consecutive game Friday night against the Sacramento Kings with a left knee ailment, and Raymond Felton is out four to six weeks with a fractured right pinky finger.

“It’s a fluid situation (because of injuries),” one source said. “But they want him to come off the bench to start.”

Ian Begley | ESPN New York

At this point, there is a fair amount of data that suggests Carmelo Anthony is a more productive player when he plays at the 4. It makes sense — he’s a very good post player, and he’s a guy that needs space to operate. A smaller lineup provides him the freedom to back his man down low or slash and kick off the dribble. While Chandler can take a backseat to the Melo show just fine and still be a very effective offensive player, it wasn’t as easy for Stoudemire  to do the same last year.

Although it may take some creative lineup juggling by Mike Woodson once everyone is healthy, it’s not like the Anthony-Stoudemire-Chandler frontcourt trio is a death knell for the Knicks’ chances — in certain matchups, that lineup can work. Can Amar’e Stoudemire occupy Ronnie Brewer’s spot and shoot at least 37 percent from the field like Brewer has this year? I would say yes.

Stoudemire may not be “stretchy” per se, but he’s posted really good numbers from 16-23 feet over his career, usually checking in at around 45 percent from that range. He can make that shot with consistency  The days of Stoudemire being the linchpin of a pick-and-roll attack, however? Those are gone — at least while he’s wearing orange and blue. This is Carmelo’s show offensively, and you can’t argue with the results produced so far this year.

Ultimately, it’s a good problem to have. Adding another productive player to your rotation always helps, especially when your roster is old and injury prone. Stoudemire may not fit well next to Anthony and Chandler in the starting lineup, but you could find much worse players to act as your third big man — so long as Stoudemire is amenable to being that.

Cavaliers get Nance Jr., Thompson, Hood back from injuries

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CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cavaliers are closer to being at full strength.

Forwards Larry Nance Jr., Tristan Thompson, and Rodney Hood all returned from injuries on Friday night as Cleveland, which has been riddled with injuries all season, hosted the Phoenix Suns. Acting coach Larry Drew said none of the players will start and all will be on minutes’ restrictions.

Drew, who is filling in while coach Tyronn Lue is on leave to address his own health, plans to keep his starting lineup intact and ease the returning players into the rotation.

LeBron James, Jose Calderon, George Hill, Jeff Green and Kevin Love were scheduled to started against Phoenix, which has lost nine in a row. Drew said he and Lue will talk again Saturday about lineup changes for the upcoming trip to Brooklyn, Miami and Charlotte.

“I really didn’t want to disrupt the starting five that we have out there right now and those guys will be playing limited minutes, so I wanted to get them slowly back and acclimated to what we’re doing,” Drew said. “There’s a chance that there could be some early substitutions to get the guys in there. I’m not ruling that out, but right now I just kind of want to stay with the flow, stay with what we’ve done the last couple of ballgames and then we’ll probably after tonight we’ll see as far as where we stand as far as starters are concerned.”

Thompson missed nine games with a sprained right ankle, Nance Jr. was out four with a hamstring issue and Hood was out the past three games with a bad back.

Drew said he did not know if Lue will accompany the team on its trip.

But while the Cavs are healthier than they’ve been in weeks, the team is still missing Kyle Korver, who is with his family in Iowa following the death of his brother, and rookie Cedi Osman, who is sidelined with a left hip flexor strain.

Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Bucks-Bulls with ankle injury

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss the Milwaukee Bucks’ home game Friday night against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.

The Bucks ruled out Antetokounmpo earlier Friday.

Antetokounmpo got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.

Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.


PBT Extra: What is going on in San Antonio?

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For the last two decades, there was less drama around the San Antonio Spurs than the recent Russian election. The Lakers were the soap opera, the Spurs and Tim Duncan just kept winning titles.

Not this season. Kawhi Leonard has missed all but nine games, his teammates are asking when he’s going to returnTony Parker — who is playing — says his quad tendon injury was far worse, and the Spurs organization is springing leaks like the Titanic.

What does all that mean? I get into it in this latest PBT Extra.

Short term, Leonard’s return or non-return will have a serious impact on the Western Conference playoffs.

Long term, after the Spurs offer Leonard the designated player max extension this summer (as is expected), everything will get back to normal.

The time Chauncey Billups tried to trick teams into believing he’d be a bad teammate

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In 2011, the Knicks amnestied Chauncey Billups. Unlike traditional waivers, amnesty waivers didn’t require claiming teams to pay Billups’ full salary. They could bid a partial amount – New York on the hook for the rest – and the highest bid would get Billups.

So, it was practically a forgone conclusion someone would claim Billups. The only questions were which team and for how much?

But Billups didn’t want to go to the highest bidder. He wanted to become a free agent and choose his destination – even though his contract and the Collective Bargaining Agreement put him on a different course.

So, Billups – a consummate professional throughout his career – threatened to become a problem. Adrian Wojnarowski at the time:

Wojnarowski now:

I remember talking to Chauncey on a Saturday morning one day. He was very determined that no team would put a waiver claim in on him, because he was headed to Miami. He was going to go play with the Heat. He had his bags packed. But he needed a team not to claim him. And he and I were just talking about this. I read this quote back to him recently, and we were laughing.

He went on this two-, three-minute rant about that basically, “I’m just going to be a complete asshole wherever I go if you claim me.” And so, he went on this rant. And he read that, and he kept going. And finally he stopped. I don’t even remember if I asked him a question. He just started when I called him. And at the end, there was like this pause. And he goes, “Do you think anyone is going to buy it?”

The Clippers submitted the highest bid for Billups, and he quickly got on board. Even though they traded for Chris Paul at point guard shortly after, Billups of course was a model teammate and veteran leader. Late in his career, he couldn’t stay healthy enough to contribute much on the court. But the Clippers still valued his presence. He even re-signed with them the following summer.

This was such a readable bluff – which says plenty about Billups’ character.