Washington Wizards v New York Knicks

Amar’e Stoudemire says Mike Woodson, not minutes limit, keeping him off the court

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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.

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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.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.