Amar’e Stoudemire began the season on a minutes limit after undergoing two knee surgeries last year.
Through five games, he was averaging fewer than five minutes per game. Since, his playing time steadily ticked upward, peaking at nearly 20 minutes per game.
Then, Stoudemire missed seven games with an ankle injury. In two games since returning, he’s played just four and 17 minutes.
But Stoudemire said Mike Woodson, not a medically determined minutes limit, is holding him back this time.
Stoudemire, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com:
“From a doctor’s standpoint, there hasn’t been limitations since the first week of the season,” Stoudemire said when asked if he wanted to throw out any minutes limitations in an effort to help the New York Knicks make the playoffs. “So we can’t keep saying limitations — that’s a coach’s decision at the end of the day.
“I feel great,” he continued. “I am ready to play. But it’s up to him if he wants to play me or not.”
“Yeah, I talk to Coach all the time about it,” Stoudemire said. “He knows I am ready. He knows how hard I train. He watches me in the weight room and also on the basketball court. The whole training staff knows, the Knicks organization knows how hard I train.
Stoudemire might not have his playing cut directly because of injury, but that’s the primary factor. He’s 31 and has a lot of mileage on him. He’s just no longer the same player he once was.
Tyson Chandler is – by far – the Knicks’ best big man, and they also function best with a small-ball lineup. That’s partially because Carmelo Anthony has become a better power forward than small forward and partially because New York’s traditional power forwards – Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin – just aren’t that good anymore.
Unlike last season, when he was an offensive force in his limited minutes, Stoudemire is now a backup who plays like a backup. Stoudemire deserves the role he has on this team, because he’s healthy. If he were still hobbled, he probably should play even less than he does.
Like with Carlos Boozer yesterday, I have no problem with Stoudemire saying he wants more minutes. As a competitor, he should want more minutes. He talked to his coach about it, and that’s the key step. At this point, there’s no harm in him sharing his desires with the public.
It’s just not in the Knicks’ best interest to give Stoudemire a larger role, and that – not a minutes limit – is really all this comes down to.