The real key to the New York Knicks' success the rest of the season has little to do with the reported rift between Carmelo Anthony and coach Mike D'Antoni, who resigned on Wednesday, or the performance of young point guard Jeremy Lin. No, the Knicks' 2011-12 fate rests with how much the team can get out of Amare Stoudemire.
Let me explain. I was sitting just a few rows off the court at Madison Square Garden on Sunday for the Knicks' game against the Philadelphia 76ers, and was surprised when I twice heard Lin tell Stoudemire to "Roll!" after a Lin drive.
First, I wondered if Steve Nash had ever needed to ask Stoudemire to roll so he could get a dunk or free throws when the two played together for the Phoenix Suns. But later, after studying the tape and the metrics, I realized that Lin's request for Stoudemire to roll is a symbol for what is plaguing the big man this season. In fact, the operative word going forward for Stoudemire has to be "Move!" as in "cut, dive, attack, jump, slide, show, race." And if he can't do any of those things, the Knicks must do their best to "move" him somewhere else.