I don't know what it is but I just still get this weird vibe...the vibe of a team without Amar'e, and one with Amar'e.
I understand it's one game. I understand that this integration will take time, something the Knicks can afford right now as they are in second place in the Eastern Conference and comfortably 5 games up in the loss column for the Atlantic lead.
I also understand that with Amar'e's contract being uninsured it would seem a long shot to trade his contract, but here's my thing, there was a feeling to last night's game that just didn't add up for me and that is a growing concern for me. Add that to the report that the Knicks tried feverishly to deal him this summer and what you have is a potential mess in the making in my opinion.
I'm an optimist. I think it can work, but I have to admit the way Stoudemire was used last night made me scratch my head. First of all Jason Kidd had his worst game as a Knick, in my opinion, because having Stoudemire at the foul lines extended (and often lost there) affected space. Kidd needs that space to utilize his shot fake and to step in to catch 3s. Amar'e seemed in the way a lot with the first unit, which, again, is common, but it's also become a habit.
Woodson only called pick and roll with Melo and Stoudemire twice. The first attempt was canceled by good sideline defense and ball pressure the led to his first basket on a slick pass from Melo. More please! Playing together, Melo managed just one field goal.
I was horrified when I saw the 5 of Stoudemire, Smith, Prigioni, Novak and Copeland from a rebounding standpoint. They played okay, but moving forward that isn't a sustainable unit in rotation. That's not a 5 you can put out on the floor and get a consistent plus in my opinion. Too many holes, especially when Novak isn't making any shots. Something to keep an eye on.
But by far the broader point is that I get the sense that something is up and have for a while. Again, they can be patient but for how long? This team cannot afford to drop below the 4th seed. They need home court in the first round. The team is win-now and can't afford anything to jeopardize this first half success.
Food for thought: Can they find an insurance company to insure Amar'e's now $40 million dollar knee for the last 2 years of his contract? Isn't that far less of a risk than the 5-year, near $100 price tag? Can they renegotiate Amar'e's contract thus increasing the chances of trading him to slightly greater than zero?