New York Knicks power forward Amar'e Stoudemire is out indefinitely after a suffering a back injury. A recent MRI revealed a bulging disk in the star forward’s lower back, which could ultimately leave him on the sideline for the remainder of the season. Not only does this latest injury hinder the man known as “S.T.A.T,” but it complicates the Knicks’ ability to make a legitimate run during this year’s NBA playoffs.
Despite Amare’s injury, the Knicks were able to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks in Monday night’s contest behind Carmelo Anthony’s 28 points & 12 rebounds. Melo’s shouldering of the load was reminiscent of last year’s playoff battle with the Boston Celtics, which also saw Stoudemire succumb to a back injury. The injury was allegedly due to a pulled muscle he suffered during pre-game warm-ups, but took five months to rehabilitate. If the 29-year-.old is going to miss the playoffs due to this latest setback, he would have completed one full post-season game within his two years as a New York Knick. As a $100 million dollar investment for the franchise, one playoff game in two seasons isn’t going to cut it.
According to the current standings, the Knicks are two & a half games ahead of the Bucks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. As the eighth seed, New York is slated to face the Chicago Bulls, who have defeated the Knicks in both of the regular season match-ups. While Chicago is one of the best teams in the NBA, they are also going through injury woes of their own. All-Star point guard Derrick Rose has battled groin injuries throughout the season and continues to be a major concern for the Bulls, who sit atop the Eastern Conference. However, with all things considered, a first round match-up with the Bulls could be an ideal situation for the Knicks. With the amount of depth on the current New York roster and rejuvenated team confidence under interim head coach Mike Woodson, the Knickerbockers could be a very tough out for Chicago.
If the Knicks find themselves exiting the playoffs after the first round again, the trade rumors will undoubtedly begin to surround Amare’s name. Stoudemire was the subject of a deal for Chris Paul, who was eventually dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers. If S.T.A.T. can recover from this latest injury, look for his name to come up in potential deals for Dwight Howard, who will likely find himself under the trading microscope for the second consecutive season.
Steve Rivers contributes to The Source, ESPN Rise and a host of other online publications. Follow him on Twitter: @TheKidSkoob.