Amare Stoudemire leading the New York Knicks back to legitimacy after years of failure is one of the best stories of this NBA season, except to those of us in Phoenix still longing for the glory...

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PHOENIX - MARCH 26:  Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns drives the lane for a shot against the New York Knicks in an NBA Game played on March 26, 2010 at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

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8 months ago: PHOENIX - MARCH 26: Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns drives the lane for a shot against the New York Knicks in an NBA Game played on March 26, 2010 at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

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So many storylines, so little time.

In this post, I'm contemplating the Knicks starting lineup, and how Nash will attack it.

For the Knicks, 4 starters are certain. All-Star Amare Stoudemire, MIP candidate PG Felton, MIP candidate SF Wilson Chandler and ROY candidate SG Landry Fields. Each plays heavy minutes on a short rotation (surprise!). The only wildcard in the 5th starter, since Danilo Gallinari is sitting out a couple weeks with an injury.

Will the Knicks start Ronny Turiaf at C, with Stoudemire at PF? That seems the most likely lineup for Mike D, with Turiaf the only other guy in the regular rotation to have started a game this season (7 starts) . 

It's possible D'Antoni will entice Gentry to go small again by starting someone like SF Shawn Williams or PG Toney Douglas for the first time, but not likely barring a top-secret pregame pact. Plus, D'Antoni never gives away starting spots for free to those who haven't earned it.

Knowing the most likely 5th Knicks starter is Turiaf, the Suns will have to go with a tall front line to match (Gortat/Lopez, Gortat/Frye, Frye/Lopez). Which two of those three starts the game is not likely to matter much. they are only on the floor until Gentry and/or D'Antoni go into the "I can get smaller than you" mode.

How will Nash attack the Knicks starting lineup?

The best way is to go right after Amare Stoudemire. He will either give up points to stay in the game, or pick up fouls. Nash will easily put Amare into defensive situations he can't handle - on the move on the perimeter or in roll situations.

The Knicks are actually better than the Suns this season on defense (aren't they all?), but can they contain Steve Nash? Not likely, unless they can totally take away the pick-n-roll. Gortat and Lopez will get lots of early opportunities to roll to the basket as long as Turiaf and Stoudemire are standing back there.

Can Gortat induce some Amare fouls on rolls to the basket? Marcin will get a lot more space to roll against the Knicks than he did against the Lakers, that's for sure.

I'm not counting on Lopez to provide much fight, in terms of inducing fouls.

Or will we see a big dose of Warrick? If anyone on this current Suns squad can induce fouls on rolls to the basket, its Hakim Warrick. So don't be surprised if Hakim gets 1-2 dunks to Amare's 5 or 6 in return.

Discuss your thoughts.

Can Amare contain the Suns? Or will the Suns, on offense, attack Amare mercilessly?


PHOENIX — Over the course of his eight seasons in Phoenix, Amare Stoudemire was criticized for his lack of leadership and ability to be “The Man” when the lights got bright. STAT...

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Phoenix Suns rookie forward Gani Lawal tore the ACL and partially tore the MCL in his right knee during Thursday morning’s practice at US Airways Center and will be out for the...

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Yup, he's still got it.

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Yup, he's still got it.

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Raise your hand if you guessed the Phoenix Suns would be the ones five games under .500 and it would be the New York Knicks with the 20-14 record when you looked at the calendar before the season started and circled this January 7 game.

But there you have it, Amare Stoudemire and Mike D'Antoni have their team playing very good basketball while in the desert, a combination of excess rosterbation and failure to communicate (on defense) has left the Suns by the wayside like an unwanted kitten dumped in a field full of snakes.

Do you think Nash is bitter about it? Maybe.

"Obviously, last year was a phenomenal year. I thought tied 2-2 that we could win a championship. Like genuinely believed it that we could and would win it. So it's tough to be in this position six months later but I'm still committed to it. I love the guys, I think we've got potential. I just think we've had so much change and haven't been able to put it together. If we want to point fingers we have to point some at ourselves."

And that was the tame part. How about this doozy of a quote:

Amare Stoudemire's Return To Phoenix As A Knick Opens All Kinds Of Scars - SB Nation Arizona

"We lost an All-Star power forward and we didn't replace him. We have no real kind of power forward," Nash said about life without Amare.

But this is Nash we are talking about. Not some whiny-ass punk who's going to just blame everyone else and make excuses for playing bad. At least he's not going to do that since the 2008-09 season once Terry Porter departed the scene.

"Yeah. I signed up for this. I'm committed to trying to build a team here," Nash said.

Other Practice Notes

  • Gani Lawal was seen being helped off the practice court by Aaron Nelson. He reportedly sprained a knee and will have an MRI. No word yet on how the Suns will adjust their rotations to accommodate his absence.
  • Steve Nash, it was reported, signed a new shoe deal with a Chinese company. He was wearing Nike today and said the deal only applied in China and he would continue to wear the swoosh here.

Other Quotes From The Cutting Room Floor

Nash

  • Always been a pick and roll team, especially late in games. Weren't a team that went isolation. 
  • "Right now, we've had so much change, so much turnover, that we haven't been as efficient as we were normally."
  • "It's frustrating to lose but I'm not necessarily going to be frustrated over things I can't control. I think that will waste a lot of energy. It's frustrating to lose, for sure."
  • Not surprised by success in New York but surprised how fast they've figured it out.
  • "They put together a team that works and Mike (D'Antoni) has to take a lot of that credit as well. That's not easy to do, to put it all together so quickly...I would have thought it would have taken four or five or six months and it's taken them a month and a half including training camp it seems like, so that's pretty impressive."
  • "We knew what we were losing. We knew the circumstances. It's not easy to replace him. But we're still a bit of an imbalanced roster and it makes it even more of a hole to climb out of. That's where we are. We added a big. We added some pieces but we're still obviously trying to get to a place where we have more balance."
  • "I can't be critical of that. That's not my money. Obviously, I wanted Amare to stay and I think I maybe foolishly thought we would somehow. I thought we'd get to an agreement but I can't comment on that."
  • Felton has been terrific. Coaches done a great job making him comfortable.
  • "I think I'm at the stage of my career where I'm not going home worrying about trades. I really, genuinely, don't think about it when I leave here. And to be honest, I'm the last to know. I'm not following everything so I usually find out from you guys. I get a little sense of something going on."
  • "(Babby) told me a month ago when it first sprung up that he had no plans to move me."

Gentry

  • "He's a great player, guys, I don't think anyone ever questioned that. He was great player here for the seven years that he was here."
  • "He done tor that team what he did for us. He's opened up three-point shooting, when not he's rolled to the basket. He's finishing. But you're talking to the wrong guy. It's no surprise to anyone here that had any association with him." 
  • They are playing great basketball and obviously, Amare is the focal point but Raymond Felton is playing great point guard. You would have to consider him very highly for making the All-Star team.
  • "I'm happy for him. I hope they win every game except the two that we play them."
  • "He's the same player that he was here."
  • Gentry doesn't see any advantage in knowing him well when it comes to devising a defensive game plan.
  • "To think you are going to shut him down, is not going to happen."
  • "I think he's embraced the role that he has there. I think that it's his team and that's something that he really wanted. He's shown the leadership and ability to carry a team and put them in a position where they're going to be a playoff team."
  • "I'll just tell you he was offered a max contract, I can tell you that. Other than that, talk to Robert (Sarver)."
  • He choose to go to New York. "So far it's working out great for him."
  • Part of his motivation to prove that he can be the main guy on a team?
  • "I think that was very much a part of it. There's nothing wrong with that. I don't see anything negative in that. He just felt like being here it was going to be Steve's team, a lot, and I think he felt like he would like to have a team that was his, that he was the focal point, that it would basically be his team. I think going to New York, he saw an opportunity for that to be the case."

As an added bonus -- because we're not depressed enough -- watch this great break down comparison between JRich and Vince Carter running the same play. Here's a hint:

 

NBA Playbook – A Look At The Playcalling In The NBA Through Videos, Pictures, & Words » Suns’ Jason Richardson Set Doesn’t Work For Vince Carter

Watch how slow Vince Carter goes off the initial backscreen. Ron Artest, isn’t even worried about the lob as he trails Carter around the screen. After coming off the screen slow, Carter doesn’t even put his foot in the ground, but takes a few steps to turn around, effectively killing any chance he had at a jumper by using that change of direction. To make matters worse, he absolutely whiffs on the backscreen for Channing Frye.

And don't miss this week's edition of....

Phoenix Suns Player Thermometer, Week 10: What An Eyesore -  SB Nation Arizona
Welcome to the Phoenix Suns Player Thermometer for Week 10. Man, it's getting awfully tough to find good things to say about the majority of this roster. Steve Nash and the Suns are in major turmoil. They're 14-19, five games under .500 for the first time this season and struggling to find anything positive to latch onto in terms of progress.


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