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When Amar'e Stoudemire signed with the Knicks and proclaimed that the franchise was back, he instantly became the face of the organization.
His reign at the top didn't last very long. It's nothing having to do with Stoudemire, who remains an integral part of the team and great salesman of all things Knicks, but there's no escaping the realization that he's no longer the most important player on the team.
Carmelo Anthony didn't change things that much when he arrived in the middle of last season in a trade from Denver because the Knicks were trying to figure things out on the fly. With that experience under their belt and a whirlwind offseason that brought Tyson Chandler to town, though, it is impossible to ignore that Anthony is now the big dog for the team.
That wasn't the way it was supposed to be. Everyone assumed the final part of the puzzle was going to be a big-time point guard who would run the show the way Steve Nash did for Mike D'Antoni in Phoenix, but that point guard isn't coming.
Chandler is here instead, bolstering the interior and giving the Knicks as imposing a frontline as any in the NBA. That leaves a major hole at point guard with the season just a couple of weeks away.
Oh, the Knicks are trying to make it seem otherwise as they conduct their brief little training camp. They're talking up Toney Douglas as the starting point guard and Mike Bibby as a veteran who can run the show for 20 minutes a night, but the truth is that the offense is going to run through Anthony as sure as the offenses of the Celtics, Lakers and Bulls ran through Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan despite someone else nominally holding the title of point guard.
Anthony is going to be the one who has to run the pick-and-roll with Stoudemire if defenses are going to respect both sides of it enough for the play to work. Anthony is going to have to be the one who takes the ball and creates shots with the shot clock running low.
And there are going to be times when Anthony is running the offense as if he were the point guard, although all references to point forward should be stricken from the record out of respect for those of us who remember the brief Don Nelson era. Come the final five minutes of close games, though, it is hard to imagine the offense will be generated by anyone other than Anthony.
That makes him the man whose success or failure will have the greatest bearing on the team's success or failure this season. It's a lot to ask of a player, but that's why the Knicks paid such a hefty ransom to bring him to town last year.
Now they'll get a chance to see how that investment will pay off.