Analysts Weigh In on Getting Anthony and Stoudemire in Sync

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.”

Suns’ Grant Hill Encourages Knicks Fans to Look Forward

“Regardless of what happens, there’s excitement in New York,” Hill said before the Knicks were routed by the in Game 3 of their first-round series. “After what’s gone on here for the last 10 years, they might throw a parade for the Knicks.”

Hill was at the in New York to screen the documentary he produced, “Starting at the Finish Line: The Coach Buehler Story.” He said that when he and his wife, Tamia, arrived in New York on Thursday, they immediately felt the warm glow of expectation surrounding the Knicks.

“You just walk around town, and the city is excited,” Hill said. “It hasn’t been like this in the spring for a while. I don’t know what happens to the team going forward, but that ’90s feel is back.”

Hill’s tells the story of Al Buehler, the legendary track coach at , who coached 45 years and was a champion of integration. Buehler’s cross-country teams captured six Atlantic Coast Conference championships and finished second 10 times. Buehler was on the United States Olympic coaching staffs at the 1972, 1984 and 1988 Games.

“This is a reminder of why sports are good, why sports are important,” Hill said.

The documentary was initiated by the filmmaker Amy Unell, and Hill, who played at Duke, came aboard as executive producer and narrator.

Hill is part of a growing number of past and current players who have produced documentaries. recently released “On the Shoulders of Giants,” about the Harlem Rens. ’s documentary on the Fab Five sparked an intriguing back and forth between Hill and Rose about the politics and sociology of race and identity. Baron Davis of the and Steve Nash, Hill’s teammate in Phoenix, have long been involved in making documentaries.

Hill is new to the form, though he has written two books and produced a catalog that accompanied a national tour of his personal art collection.

“Jalen, Baron, myself, Steve Nash have the ability to tell stories and bring stories to life,” Hill said. “Hopefully it’ll encourage others who want to step outside the box and do something a little different.”

Two summers ago, Hill contemplated joining the Knicks as a free agent but stayed in Phoenix. His friend and former teammate Amar’e Stoudemire joined the Knicks last summer. For the most part, Stoudemire has enjoyed an All-Star season.

Hill said that he warned Stoudemire that teams would wine and dine him and cautioned him to look past the money and concentrate on how he felt about the city.

“I encouraged him to look past all of the hype and make a decision he can live with,” Hill said. “When it’s not fun, when it’s not easy, can you imagine yourself living there? Look at the whole situation, don’t get caught up in all the fanfare. Obviously, it’s worked out.”

When the Knicks traded for in February, Stoudemire had to share the spotlight, although Hill said Stoudemire set the tone for the Knicks’ rejuvenation.

“Amar’e took the risk,” Hill said. “I love Carmelo, respect him — have to guard him. But Amar’e, when it wasn’t fashionable, came here and said, ‘I want that pressure, I want to be that guy, I want to restore things in this city with this franchise,’ and he did that, and I’m happy for him. He’s got big shoulders, he carries the load and the city’s embraced him.”

The Knicks reached the playoffs and played well in the first two games against Boston, after an extended adjustment in the regular season that was guided by Coach , though injuries to Chauncey Billups and Stoudemire took the sting out of the Knicks’ punch. Hill recalled that the Suns faced a similar situation with D’Antoni in the 2007-8 season when joined the team.

“It takes time,” Hill said. “You really don’t have time for practice. You need a training camp with a player like Carmelo to get everybody on board.”

Friday’s drubbing by the Celtics, after a typical New York buildup, drained much of the joy. Hill, whose Suns missed the playoffs this season, cautioned the Knicks and their fans not to be downhearted: there’s much to be said for reaching the playoffs, regardless of the result.

Never take reaching the playoffs for granted. Launching a great project and being embraced by a room full of well-wishers is gratifying.

None of that takes the sting out of missing the playoffs.

“This is great,” Hill said. “I’m humbled by being in Tribeca and the whole experience. This distracts you a little bit, but it still hurts. As much as I love this, I’d rather be playing right now.

“I’d rather be guarding Kobe.”


Stoudemire Is Backbone of Knicks’ Renewal

Amar’e Stoudemire was shooting jumpers. Practice would not begin for another three hours.

“Leadership by example,” the assistant Phil Weber marveled later, recalling the scene. “There’s no substitute for that.”

From the moment he arrived in July, has been the face of the Knicks, but also their conscience, their work ethic, their grit, their steady voice.

Two more stars, and Chauncey Billups, arrived in February, and the spotlight widened to accommodate them. But Stoudemire remains the Knicks’ foundation, and the primary reason they will end a seven-year playoff drought Sunday night in Boston.

The gratification is evident in Stoudemire’s smile and words, and in the praise that flows from everyone around him.

“I think that he, for the first time, thinks that this is his team, and he was responsible for getting us to the playoffs,” Coach said Saturday, adding, “He took it on his shoulders in good times and bad times, going, ‘It’s me.’ ”

If the Knicks have any chance of upsetting the in this first-round series, it will begin once more with Stoudemire, their fantastically skilled power forward, who averaged 25.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks this season.

And if matters grow tense, if the Knicks’ resolve wavers, it will probably be Stoudemire who pulls the group together and steadies them — “the one constant voice,” as D’Antoni said, who keeps pushing them forward.

D’Antoni has long admired Stoudemire’s skills and athleticism, but he was not always so enamored of his demeanor. Nor, it should be said, was Stoudemire always so enamored of D’Antoni’s coaching style.

They spent four mostly glorious seasons together with the , lighting up scoreboards and making deep playoff runs. But as expectations rose, so did the tensions. Stoudemire was never fully dedicated to defense. D’Antoni did not always connect with Stoudemire, who other than Steve Nash was the Suns’ most important player.

There were concerns about Stoudemire’s maturity and his commitment while recovering from a knee injury — issues that were detailed in “Seven Seconds or Less,” the book that chronicled the Suns’ 2005-6 season.

As the book’s author, Jack McCallum, recalled in an interview last week, Stoudemire “was just an immature kid who didn’t do his rehab as assiduously as he should, wasn’t a great teammate, was sometimes selfish and did lock horns with Mike over that, no question about it.”

Some of those who worked with D’Antoni and Stoudemire played down the issues between them. But McCallum, who had unlimited access that season, said the tension was real.

“I’m pleasantly — and emphasis on pleasantly — surprised by what’s happened,” he said of the successful reunion.

Stoudemire was just 22 when D’Antoni began his first full season in 2004. D’Antoni was somewhat of a rookie himself, having spent nearly a decade working in Italy. Both are headstrong.

But they have evolved since their bitter parting in 2008, when each took veiled shots at the other after a shocking first-round loss to San Antonio. D’Antoni was forced out and joined the Knicks for a painful overhaul. Stoudemire and the Suns struggled under a new coach, Terry Porter.

The time apart changed everyone’s outlook.

“I’m much more appreciative of what he brings,” D’Antoni said, adding, “I always had him, so I didn’t know what it was without him.

“You get a little jaded,” D’Antoni continued, “and the pressure’s on you to win a championship and you don’t appreciate all the things that he’s done. I also think that he’s gone to a level that makes you appreciative of it. So it’s a little give-and-take on both our parts. I think the guy’s terrific, and he’s doing an unbelievable job.”

D’Antoni’s private evaluations of Stoudemire have been just as effusive. He told one friend that Stoudemire has become just as strong a leader as Nash is.

Cynics viewed this reunion as a marriage of convenience: the Knicks needed a franchise player after being snubbed by . Stoudemire needed a team that could afford to pay him $100 million.