After all, and Amar’e Stoudemire, who are the team’s two most essential players and who are in their prime, have not shown they can really click at the same time. For that matter, they have never been in a training camp together.
But they are both on hand now as Coach Mike Woodson begins to put in his new offense. Jason Kidd will mentor Raymond Felton. Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas will be excited to come off the bench, or at least will insist they are. Even Rasheed Wallace, who took a physical last week and is expected to sign with the team and end his retirement, might prove valuable enough by grabbing rebounds and shooting 3-pointers.
Jeremy Lin will not be in Greenburgh, N.Y., for training camp. He is now with the Houston Rockets, who will also hold their media day Monday. No one in the Knicks’ organization has explained for the record why Lin was allowed to depart as a free agent, though Woodson and General Manager Glen Grunwald are expected to do so Monday.
But after questions about Lin are finally addressed, an even bigger one will remain: Can Anthony and Stoudemire, two offense-first forwards, work together to make the Knicks a legitimate contender? When they have been in the starting lineup together, the Knicks have a record of 31-40, including a 1-7 record in the postseason.
“It’s just a tough, tough fit,” said Steve Kerr, an analyst for TNT and the former general manager for the Phoenix Suns, for whom Stoudemire previously played. “Both are used to being the center point of the offense — not really creating, but catching and finishing.”
Phil Jackson, an 11-time champion as an N.B.A. coach, has gone further in his critique, saying last summer that the Knicks were clumsily constructed because of the Anthony-Stoudemire combination.
Shaquille O’Neal, who has four championship rings, seemed skeptical that Anthony and Stoudemire could perform at the level of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the N.B.A.-champion Miami Heat. Chris Webber, a former N.B.A. star and current television analyst, said he doubted Anthony and Stoudemire could play off each other.
“Carmelo is a one-on-one player, and Amar’e needs the ball off the pick-and-roll,” Webber said. “I think what you have to do is delegate possessions.”
Walt Frazier, an analyst on Knicks broadcasts for MSG, wondered if Stoudemire would be willing to come off the bench. Kerr thought that was a logical option.
“It sounds crazy, but maybe you minimize the minutes where they are on the floor together,” he said. “That way, each of them becomes the focal point when they are out there on their own.”
Anthony and Stoudemire are signed through the 2014-15 season. Woodson and Grunwald are clearly hoping that the more experienced players they have brought in will make the Knicks formidable during this two-season window. Woodson said in July that young teams do not usually win N.B.A. titles.
“It will probably be comforting to Amar’e and Carmelo to have veteran guys in the locker room that won’t go off and really don’t care if they lose, say, four or five games in a row,” Webber said. “In a city like New York, you need guys in the locker room that don’t get shaken easily.”
The Knicks won their first playoff game in 11 years last season, an 89-87 victory over the Heat in the first round. For one game, the Knicks showed that maybe there is a blueprint for Anthony and Stoudemire to build on. Anthony scored 41 points in 41 minutes and had 4 assists. In the next game. Stoudemire, returning from a hand injury, had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Kerr wondered if a specified system — maybe the triangle offense that Jackson used in Los Angeles and Chicago — could force ball movement and trust for the Knicks. Jackson did get O’Neal and Kobe Bryant to buy into the triangle, and to believe in each other. The result was three titles.
Webber called the Knicks Anthony’s team. He said Anthony should shoot more than anyone else, and the ball should be in his hands late. To Webber, it’s Stoudemire who should evolve and focus on rebounding.
“It’s not a question, and it’s not even close,” Webber said. “Carmelo is one of the best small forwards the game has ever seen.”
The Knicks are depending on Anthony and Stoudemire for success — more now than ever, in a two-year window.
“You have to consider everything,” Kerr said. “All ideas have to be on the table.”