Now It's Amar'e Who Must Fit In to Melo's Team | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / June 18.
  • Now It’s Amar’e Who Must Fit In to Melo’s Team

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    NEW YORK — Remember when it was Carmelo Anthony who had to go?

    Remember when the dominant paradigm among Knicks fans was that Melo was a ball-stopping cancer who ought to be run out of town on a rail?

    Ah, yes, it wasn’t that long ago that Linsanity dominated the Knicks — and the NBA — and practically everyone questioned how Anthony fit into the free-flowing, Mike D’Antoni-inspired, Lin-run offense.

    But that was then and this is now.

    Now Anthony appears reborn under interim coach Mike Woodson and the results speak for themselves.

    The Knicks are 13-5 under Woodson entering Tuesday night’s tilt against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden. They are 9-1 at home since Woodson took the reins from D’Antoni and pretty much handed the offense over to Melo.

    “It was a new start for me, a new start for the team, a new start for the KNicks when Coach Woodson came on,” Anthony said Monday on WFAN. “The most important thing is he held me accountable for everything. It was a lot more responsibility that I had to take on and I was willing to do that.”

    Anthony is averaging 30.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.6 steals across the last 10 games, including a 43-point outburst in a home win over the Chicago Bulls and Sunday’s 42-point effort in a loss to the Miami Heat.

    Now, the optic is more about how Amar’e Stoudemire — and not Anthony — fits into the larger Knicks picture as they position for a playoff spot.

    When Stoudemire returns, possibly Friday at Cleveland, should he start or come off the bench?

    Should Anthony remain at the power forward spot where he has thrived or hand it back over to Amar’e and the bulging disc in his back?

    “If he tells me he’s ready to go, we’re going to move him back at the four spot,” Woodson said earlier this week.

    “He’ll just slide right in,” Anthony added.

    “Everybody continue to play the way they’ve been playing. He come right in and fit right in. I don’t think nobody has to change anything when he gets back. Actually, we’re looking forward to him coming back.”

    It tells you something about this crazy Knicks season — the one that has featured Linsanity’s rise and fall, D’Antoni’s exit and various and sundry injuries to Anthony, Stoudemire, Lin, Tyson Chandler and Baron Davis — that the playoffs are less than two week away and fans don’t even know what the starting lineup will look like in the postseason.

    And let’s not even get started on the state of the backcourt, where Davis, Landry Fields and Iman Shumpert went a combined 4-for-18 for 10 points against the Heat.

    No, the most immediate issue facing Woodson — who, incidentally, is hoping to remove the interim tag from his title entering next season — is Stoudemire and how he fits in once he returns.

    “We miss his size,” Steve Novak said. “We know we have to get him back, healthy as soon as possible. We are hearing good things every day. Obviously, we needed him back [against Miami].”

    Logic says the Knicks need a second scorer to take the burden off Anthony — and J.R. Smith, who has never met an outside shot he didn’t like.

    Logic says the Knicks need a second star — the original star of the D’Antoni Era — to have any hope against Miami or Chicago in the first round of the playoffs.

    But now all of a sudden the questions are about Amar’e and how he’ll fit in — or won’t.

    About how Woodson should consider bringing him off the bench so as not to disrupt this marvelous streak Carmelo is on.

    Amazing, isn’t it?

    Nobody’s saying Melo should be put on the earliest bus out of Penn Station anymore.

    Nobody’s counting on Linsanity anytime soon.

    This team will go as far as Melo will take them. And Knicks fans only hope Amar’e doesn’t mess things up too badly once he returns.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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