This was the year things were going to be different.
After a midseason trade and an offseason destroyed by the lockout, the Knicks were finally going to get an extended period of time for Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire to work together in practice with hopes of finding a way to mesh their skills together instead of continuing to be two islands in search of a bridge. The more things change, though, the more they remain the same.
Stoudemire has a ruptured popliteal cyst in his left knee and will miss the first two-to-three weeks of the regular season while he recovers. That would be five games on the long end and would include matchups against both the Nets and Heat as the Knicks aren't exactly getting off to a boring start this season.
The news is disappointing, but not exactly surprising. Not only has Stoudemire missed plenty of time in the preseason with what was previously being called a bone bruise in his knee, but it's not like anyone was recommending setting your watch to his presence since there's always been something keeping Stoudemire out of the lineup over the last couple of years.
And that's meant that the Knicks have remained stuck trying to figure out how to make all of their expensive pieces fit together into a cohesive whole that doesn't continually have the feel of five guys who met at the gym just before being thrown onto the floor together. This was supposed to be the year that the Knicks could work on just that, but, once again, they will have to play catch-up once the games have started counting.
It will only complicate matters should the Knicks break from the gate with spirit in the first couple of weeks without Stoudemire. Anthony will play a lot of power forward, just as he did in his remarkable run to solidify the Knicks' playoff position at the end of last season, and that should mean impressive offensive numbers against defenders who can't keep up with Melo's moves.
With Steve Novak, J.R. Smith and Ronnie Brewer, the Knicks can go with defense, offense or a mix on the wings with Anthony down low while also limiting the minutes needed from the ancient Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas on a nightly basis. Tyson Chandler eliminates a lot of defensive sins, Anthony's offense can flow unchecked and the Knicks could pull off some wins behind this lineup.
And then we'll get to deal with another round of the apparently endless rounds of hand-wringing about the best way to fit Stoudemire into the lineup. That's actually the best-case scenario since losses would bring about the Melo-bashing and general rush to ugly judgment that accompanies everything the Knicks do every year.
It would be nice to think that things would work another way this season, but, frankly, it's hard to imagine things could actually work any differently when the Knicks and Stoudemire are involved.