Amar'e believes NBA lockout near end

Amar'e Stoudemire speaks to a group of youth

Amar'e Stoudemire speaks to a group of youth at the Polo Grounds Community Center about the importance of education. (Sept. 7, 2011) (Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy)

Amar'e Stoudemire is optimistic the NBA lockout will end soon and confident he'll be ready to play for the Knicks once a deal is reached.

"I'm hearing good things about the lockout," Stoudemire said Wednesday. "I'm not sure what the change is going to be, but I do feel better about the fact that we may start sooner than later. So that's a positive for us."

The Knicks forward has been recovering from a strained back muscle he suffered before Game 2 of the playoffs. When asked if he'd be prepared to start practice on Oct. 1 Stoudemire responded emphatically, "No question."

"I feel great. I feel good. I've been resting and rehabbing all summer," he said. "There was definitely times during the summer where [my back] was sore. I didn't know quite how long it normally takes for you to recover from that type of injury. I was never nervous, never concerned, just a matter of what type of procedure needed to be done as far as rehab to get 100 percent and so far we're on the right track."

The 6-10 Stoudemire said he has been unable to do a lot of cardio exercise, but plans to start pushing himself next week.

"Starting Monday I'm going to turn it up a notch," he said. "Pretty sure by the time we start up I'll be in top shape for sure."

Just in case a labor agreement isn't reached in the near future, Stoudemire and his Knicks teammates have a contingency plan. Stoudemire confirmed a previous report by Newsday that if the NBA and NBPA can't come to an agreement in time to preserve the regularly scheduled training camp, he has organized a minicamp at the IMG Basketball facility in Bradenton, Fla. Newsday has learned the camp is scheduled to run from Oct. 19 to Nov. 6.

Stoudemire expects all of his current teammates to attend, including Carmelo Anthony, if the lockout continues past the scheduled start of training camp on Oct. 4. "I'm guaranteeing, I'm pretty sure he's going to be down in Florida for sure," Stoudemire said of Anthony.

Stoudemire addressed a group of about 50 preteens on the importance of education while at a city Department of Youth and Community Development event at the Polo Grounds Community Center in Harlem Wednesday afternoon.

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