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Amar’e Stoudemire is smartly choosing rest over working with Hakeem Olajuwon again

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Mr. and Mrs. Stoudemire attend a gala at 40/40 in June (Getty Images)

Amar’e Stoudemire, a player that will turn 31 a month into the 2013-14 season, doesn’t really need any more low post moves. The man needs rest, apparently, as he recovers from a career that has included a microfracture operation, multiple arthroscopic knee procedures, and two debridement operations from 2012-13. This is why Stoudemire, coming off of a disappointing campaign that saw him suit up for just 29 games last season, will not be working under the tutelage of Basketball Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon in Texas this summer.

Stoudemire famously doubled down to Houston during the 2012 offseason to work on post moves with the 1994 NBA MVP, but speculation amongst the Knicks pointed to this fevered offseason workout binge as a contributing force to his two knee surgeries and 682-minute run in 2012-13. This is why, in a career that has sadly been marked with all manner of physical setbacks, Stoudemire is giving it a rest this time around. And Knicks brass, including coach Mike Woodson and general manager Glen Grunwald, are more than on board with this.

From Marc Berman of the New York Post:

“The main thing with Amar’e is we need him to rest,’’ Woodson said at the Las Vegas summer league.

“Last summer, he put in a lot of time. He had some bad luck because he worked his butt off last summer. This summer we’ll rest him and make our push to get him ready for vet camp.”

Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald echoed the need for Stoudemire to slow down. Last October, he broke down in training camp.

“He really worked hard in last offseason, maybe too hard,’’ Grunwald said. “We need to pace him and have him ready for the season so when the real games and playoffs begin, he’s there for us. We’re hopefully a little smarter this year and understand where his body is at.’’

Stoudemire struggled with both back and knee pain during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, and chemistry and spacing issues while working alongside that year’s Defensive Player of the Year, Tyson Chandler. Because both players prefer to work from the pinch post, Stoudemire dedicated his 2012 offseason to attempting to become more of a traditional low post scorer, instead of the all-around face-up demon he was prior to Chandler’s arrival.

In retrospect, it wasn’t the best plan, as Stoudemire endured his most frustrating season to date, staking an unfortunate claim as the NBA’s least tradeable player (his uninsured contract runs for two more years for a total of over $45 million). It’s a sad shift in fortune for a player that missed only four games during his opening year with the Knicks in 2010-11, shooting 50 percent from the field and averaging over 25 points per game.

As we mentioned last week, none of this is Stoudemire’s fault. He’s just had incredibly bad luck through the years, and it’s best for him to try a different approach as he enters his 30s. This is the same man that came back way too quickly from microfracture surgery during the 2005-06 campaign, and the same guy that attempted to sweat his way back into prominence with Hakeem last season to disastrous results. And, as Berman noted, this decision has nothing to do with OIajuwon being hired by the Houston Rockets to do exclusive work with their big men; as the Rockets generously allowed Dream to fulfill his prior obligations with players on opposing teams. Berman also reported that Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony may still go down to Houston to work on his own low post footwork later this summer.

No, this has everything to do with Stoudemire giving his wheels a needed break. And the Knicks – through either minute limits, rest on back-to-backs, or sixth man work – have no choice but to let Amar’e try the opposite approach to what didn’t work in 2012. Because work, as evidenced by his 2012-13 work, didn’t really work out.

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