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Amare Stoudemire signs on the dotted line

Jaime C. Harris | 4/12/2011, 5:28 p.m.

Today (Thursday), the Knicks and Amar'e Stoudemire are expected to consummate a five-year, $100 million contract.

For better or for worse, the marriage between Stoudemire and the Knicks assuredly will last for a full half decade. Like most contracts that have an annual value of roughly $20 million bucks, Stoudemire's will be immovable.

Unless LeBron James signs with the Knicks - as of AmNews press time he had yet to make a decision - or they secure a legitimate franchise player other than him, the Knicks have perilously placed their prospects of success on the broad shoulders of the 6-11 Stoudemire.

Unlike LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, Stoudemire, who will turn 28 in November, is not a transformational player. While he is an exceptionally good offensive talent, Stoudemire wasn't even the best player on his team, the Phoenix Suns. Steve Nash was, and remains The Man in Phoenix.

Although the Suns wanted to retain Stoudemire, they would not guarantee the final two years of a proposed five-year offer, mainly because he will be 33 by the fifth year and past his prime. That sure didn't deter the Knicks.

So what's their end game moving forward if the don't have an authentic franchise player? Talk of the Knicks acquiring the 28-year-old point guard Tony Parker from the San Antonio Spurs, like Stoudemire a player who is already at his peak, should not enthuse the fan base. Nor should anyone similar in age and status.

It is assumed and expected by most Knicks fans that the goal in the organization getting under the salary cap to potentially sign two max players this summer and add a third once Eddy Curry's $11 million contract is wiped off the books at the end of the upcoming season is to build a perennial championship contender, not just get better.

No doubt Knicks management is diligent in trying to bring a title to New York. But just getting better and making the playoffs won't do. Creating an exciting and trendy atmosphere at the Garden again isn't enough. That's not what the faithful, the fans who watch nearly every minute of every game and who have gone through so many years of misery, signed up for.

They enlisted for a long-term winner. If the Knicks are to sustain this, they have to snag a big fish.