Less than 24 hours after clinching a their second consecutive playoff berth, the Knicks are making news. All-Star forward Amar’e Stoudemire returns to the starting lineup tonight after missing the last 13 games to treat a bulging disc in his back. Coach Mike Woodson announced today that Landry Fields would head to the bench, in order to make room for Amare in the starting lineup. Also, news surfaced that the team plans to waive swing man Bill Walker, in order to sign 6’11″ C Dan Gadzuric.
The Return of STAT: The elephant in the room will finally begin to be answered tonight: Can Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony co-exist and lead a successful Knicks team? During the 13 games Stoudemire missed, Anthony played by far his best stretch as a Knick. He averaged 30.6 points per game, including two 40 point games and a triple-double. Will Stoudemire take a backseat and be the no. 2 man? The hope is that the team looks more like the squad that went 6-1 in Stoudemire’s last 7 games and not the one that struggled early in the year to find consistency on offense.
Landry to the Bench: With Stoudemire returning to the starting lineup, someone had to head to the bench and that man is Landry Fields. Fields has started in 141 of the 144 games he has played. However his poor play of late, coinciding with the need to keep Iman Shumpert’s defense in the starting lineup, makes him the most obvious to head to the bench. It will be interesting to see how Fields responds to his new role.
Welcome to NY, Dan Gadzuric: With Landry Fields heading to the bench, Bill Walker heads to the exit door. There is no way Walker would see minutes over Fields, J.R. Smith and Steve Novak. Walker’s exit led to the signing of Gadzuric. Gadzuric has not played this season after playing his first eight seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and splitting last season with the Warriors and Nets. Gadzuric has the reputation of being a hacker (91 fouls, 54 field goals last season), but is also known as a strong rebounder and low post defender. It begs the question: Is Jared Jeffries more hurt than what has been reported? Regardless, it is a good move by the Knicks, losing a piece they didn’t need and replacing it with one that could help in the playoffs.