The Knicks have had to overcome various bumps along the road this season, including the resignation of Mike D'Antoni, as well as injuries to Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Jeremy Lin.
Despite missing key contributors, the team has been playing consistently well, and chemistry appears to be a big factor. The Knicks have come together through trying times, pulling behind Coach Woodson as they catapult towards the postseason.
With Stoudemire inching closer to his return from a bulging disc in his back, the Knicks are obviously hopeful inserting the superstar back into the lineup will result in the team gaining some momentum as an underdog in the playoffs.
Stoudemire's talent and potential explosiveness is undeniable, but with the team playing so well through his absence, it's important his return doesn't rock the boat. There's a chance attempting to get STAT involved into an offense already displaying good rhythm may risk doing more bad than good.
Taking this into consideration, it may be the opportune time to resurrect a suggestion made by Alan Hahn. Could Stoudemire help the Knicks off the bench? Bringing an all-star talent off the bench has worked in New York before, as Hahn notes. In fact, the team reached the NBA Finals in 1999 with Latrell Sprewell providing a boost off the pine.
Carrying out such a strategy with STAT would not only allow him to ease back into the lineup with monitored minutes, but it would also prevent the star from taking away from any of the good things the Knicks have going for them offensively at the moment.
Alternating Anthony and Stoudemire could very well create a balanced attack, the type necessary for a team to play 48 quality minutes of basketball. Featuring a potent offensive option like STAT off the bench would catch opponents off guard, as they more likely than not wouldn't be able to match up effectively with the big man. What's more, subbing into the game along with Steve Novak would grant Stoudemire a partner who spreads the floor, taking the pressure off of him inside.
Bringing Stoudemire off the bench would certainly be a bold move, but doing so may actually put both he and the Knicks in the best possible position to succeed for the remainder of the season.