The refrain from the masses if the Knicks are bounced from the playoffs will be that Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire aren't a good fit.
Some will say Stoudemire should come off the bench because Anthony has been dominant at power forward. Shaquille O'Neal already has said that.
Anthony and Stoudemire have heard it all and say outsiders are making too much of their on-court relationship. But an insider, coach Mike Woodson, said he's "got to make it work" with Anthony and Stoudemire. Overall, they haven't been Bill Bradley and Dave DeBusschere.
"You have two dominant scorers," Stoudemire said. "It takes time for things to jell."
"I don't think we would ever have a problem coexisting out there on the basketball court," Anthony said.
The Knicks' regular-season record with both players is 30-33. Under Woodson, they're 8-2. He uses Stoudemire at center more than Mike D'Antoni did earlier this season and has played him to start the fourth quarter with mostly reserves. It has opened up scoring opportunities for Stoudemire.
But Anthony and Stoudemire have to do it together, and if they want to silence the doubters about whether they can play together and succeed, this is the time: the playoffs.
Great players lead their teams deep into the playoffs. Stoudemire went to the conference finals twice with Steve Nash in Phoenix. Anthony led Denver there once.
Stoudemire and Anthony didn't produce a single win last postseason against Boston. But Stoudemire suffered back spasms in Game 2 and was limited. Maybe the Knicks would have won a game or more if he had been healthy.
The last time the Knicks won a playoff game was 2001, and it's been 12 years since they won a series. Anthony and Stoudemire can't take the blame for that. But they are the franchise centerpieces now and until they do something together in the postseason, they will remain two great players whose talents haven't meshed well.
"I think right now, Carmelo is doing a phenomenal job just playing all-around basketball," Stoudemire said. "Myself, I'm just being unselfish and letting things flow the way it does.
"I've been very successful in this league. I have nothing to prove, aside from winning a championship. It's about winning a championship for me."
That would quiet everyone, but the Knicks have to win a playoff series first.
Buyer beware on Howard
Dwight Howard reportedly will seek a trade from Orlando after the season. Hasn't he done that already? Opting in for next year doesn't mean he's rescinded his trade request. It means he wanted his max money.
Howard didn't want to be in Orlando and proved it all season.
The Magic should have moved him already and spared the organization, fans and Stan Van Gundy the headache and heartache Howard's unnecessary drama has caused.
Expect him to be linked to the Knicks and Nets since he wants to go to a major market and they both have interesting pieces. But if Glen Grunwald gets a call, he should think long and hard about dealing Tyson Chandler and Stoudemire for a controversial player coming off back surgery. The Nets have to pursue Howard, though. It might be their best chance to keep Deron Williams.
Casting the Nets
The Nets left Long Island in 1976 and said goodbye to New Jersey last week. Next stop: Brooklyn.
Many former players came back for Monday's finale (among them Derrick Coleman, Kenny Anderson, Darryl Dawkins, Albert King, Kerry Kittles) or had video messages (Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Kenyon Martin).
The organization tried making it a special night, but few players are truly connected to the New Jersey Nets. The Knicks have Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Bill Bradley, Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Charles Oakley and more.
The Nets expect things to be different in Brooklyn. They believe they will create a winning legacy and build a fan base, but this is a critical offseason. If Deron Williams leaves, the Nets will be without a star, which they don't want in their return to New York.