Stoudemire, Walsh not overly concerned with depth
Amar’e Stoudemire didn’t look or sound like a guy who was “excited” to have been united with longtime friend Carmelo Anthony as he sat down with the media following a disjointed Tuesday practice.
You don't need to convince Amar’e Stoudemire the three-way trade for Carmelo Anthony is a good one.
While the Knicks' All-Star said he was sad to see teammates get shipped off, he has all the confidence the deal is for the best.
“Those guys were the start of the resurgence of Knicks basketball,” Stoudemire said, mostly speaking of Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton and Timofey Mozgov. Fringe players Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry were also shipped out. “They were like family members, so it’s hard to see them go. On the flip side of that, though, I’m excited and I think we got better.”
The Knicks, however, are even thinner on the depth chart than before and will need time to gel. Key veterans could make that transition smoother -- and sooner -- than expected.
“I think with the team we have now we just have to figure it out and work together and communicate. We have smart veteran players, so it shouldn’t take long. It shouldn’t be much [learning curve],” Stoudemire assured. “We’re still versatile. Carmelo can play the three [small forward], sometimes the four [power forward]. And I can play the four, sometimes five [center]. Chauncey [Billups] is a great shooter off screen-and-rolls and that’ll extend our offense. The court will be so open, so it’ll be hard to guard us.”
And about that little thing called defense, Amar’e?
“Defensively, when you’re undersized, it comes down to heart and desire,” he said, notably not taking as long to break down their defensive deficiencies.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni agreed that guys will have to “buy into” what little defensive principles he stresses and lamented that they were “behind the eight ball a little bit” when it came to giving up Chandler. The 6-foot-8 Chandler was a gem for the Knicks because he was able to guard anyone from shooting guards to power forwards and was able to play both forward positions.
Truth is that the Knicks gained talent but lost depth – especially what little length they already had. D’Antoni said people may laugh when he said losing the 7-foot-2 Mozgov was tough but he was quick to point out that the Russian import was ascending since he was inserted into the starting lineup in mid-January. Team president Donnie Walsh said losing length hurt – “all trades hurt a little bit” – but said he’ll still be working diligently up until Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline to improve the roster because he alluded to the fact that Denver did a great job of getting everything they wanted.
“In every trade you try not to give up too much and we tried to [bring down Denver’s asking price]. Denver picked the right guys because they’re all good players and have good futures and will be successful,” Walsh said, adding that it’ll be hard to find the next Mozgov because good seven-footers don’t grow on trees. “You can’t just add any center. You have to add the right guy. But we’ll be looking, that’s for sure. We have more talent now but we have some more work to do.”
Walsh then addressed the Isiah Thomas rumors that the once-fired executive and coach finagled his way into the trade talks.
“I have no idea? Only what I read in the papers,” Walsh said incredulously when asked if he was aware of any Thomas involvement. “I’m assuming that Isiah is getting ready for the NCAA tournament.”
Another assumption was that team owner James Dolan was leaning in Thomas’s advice while working Walsh’s strings. Walsh ended that rumor immediately.
“He didn’t try to put any words in my mouth or any thoughts in my head. He was always asking my opinions,” Walsh said when asked if Dolan was steering him in any direction that Walsh didn’t want to go. “And he shouldn’t because I’m the one who knows basketball. My job is to advise him and I did that.”
Walsh went on to say that getting Anthony was a ‘now move’ and had nothing to do with his tenuous contract situation. His deal expires May 1.
“I could care less. There are a lot of people who talk,” Walsh said when asked if this move was made hoping that he’d get re-upped. “I haven’t even thought about my future. You guys are making more out of it than I am.”
Stoudemire, D’Antoni, and Walsh all acknowledged that the future is now for the Knicks. Only Stoudemire was so bold to announce that the Knicks are a factor and that everyone in the conference has been served notice.
“I think they [top-tier teams] know now it’s going to get harder in the east,” beamed Stoudemire. “The east is pretty stacked.”