There was a pretty shocking bit of information in the New York Post on Tuesday. As a result of all Donnie Walsh's work over the last two seasons, the Knicks enter this year with a payroll that is among the nine lowest in the NBA. They come in around $58 million, which is down from $93 million and $84 million in the last two years and those savings go even higher when the luxury tax is taken into account.
That kind of drop raises eyebrows, to be sure, but the reason it's actually shocking is because the Knicks added the best player to their roster in more than a decade this offseason. Amar'e Stoudemire might have been a bit of a letdown from the big dreams of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, but don't let that mislead you into thinking that the Knicks somehow settled for a second-tier player.
Stoudemire is a gifted offensive player who has actually added wrinkles to his game in recent seasons to become more dangerous than he was when Mike D'Antoni coached him in Phoenix. According to Basketball Reference, Stoudemire ranks 132nd all-time in Offensive Win Shares. The only active player who ranks higher with less time in the NBA is James and Wade comes in behind Amar'e on the list. So do Patrick Ewing and Willis Reed, to name two Knicks Hall of Famers.
We're not arguing that STAT -- his nickname, which stands for Standing Tall and Talented -- is better than any of those fellows. As the name of the metric makes clear, it's all about offense and there's more to the game than that. But a player who is that supremely talented on offense is a rare thing, obviously, and it is something that hasn't worn a home uniform at Madison Square in many, many years.
As if adding a player like that isn't enough, the Knicks added him because he was eager to take on the challenge of being the best player on a team that's been wandering through the basketball desert since before he was in the league. Seriously. The Knicks last won a playoff game when Stoudemire was 18 years old and 18 months away from making his professional debut. Asking to be the man for a franchise isn't something that a lot of players would do, something you already knew, and it makes it even easier to love the idea of watching him do his business for the next five years.
We have no idea if this will all work out and there's a fair chance that things aren't going to be significantly better in the short term. But Stoudemire has us focusing on the positive, a pretty remarkable change of attitude after so many years written off before a single minute was played.
For that, we're deeply thankful and if they can actually win some games we'll start thinking about what to name after the guy.