Amar'e Stoudemire feeling healthy and ready for opener
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Sweaty and out of breath after another full-court scrimmage, Amar'e Stoudemire stood off to the side of the Knicks' practice court Monday and proclaimed himself healthy enough to take part in the regular-season opener Wednesday night.
"Yeah, absolutely," he said.
That seemed like a long shot when the Knicks opened training camp, especially considering that Stoudemire revealed on the first day of practice that he had yet another knee surgery during the summer, his third in less than a year.
The Knicks have stressed the importance of taking it slowly with their brittle big man, but Stoudemire has since made it through all of the hurdles necessary to be on the floor Wednesday night against the Bucks at Madison Square Garden and begin his fourth season with the Knicks.
The final obstacle for Stoudemire came Friday night in the form of his first (and only) preseason game, and he said he emerged from that experience with only the normal soreness for this time of year, the best news possible.
So he was back at it Monday, banging bodies with other Knicks bigs under the basket during a spirited scrimmage.
"This is like training camp for me at this point," Stoudemire said afterward. "Just continue to get in shape, continue to get my rhythm back. The last preseason game was a great indication for how I'm feeling."
Once seen as the face of the franchise after he signed a five-year, $100-million deal in 2010, Stoudemire relinquished that title the day Carmelo Anthony arrived midway through his first season in New York. Now he might not be even an everyday player anymore, and he said he's fine with that reality.
Coach Mike Woodson is considering alternating between him and another aging power forward, Kenyon Martin, from game to game, especially in back-to-back games. So Stoudemire would act as the backup power forward one night while Martin rests, then vice versa the next night.
"Whatever it takes for us to prolong our careers and be ready for the postseason, I think that's the right approach," Stoudemire said. "We're just taking a strategic approach to this season, make sure I'm ready for the longevity."
Though Stoudemire's status is clear, Woodson acknowledged that he still has a few other lineup decisions entering the opener, beginning with whether to start Metta World Peace or Andrea Bargnani. That decision will directly impact whether Anthony plays primarily at small forward or power forward, the position at which he created many matchup problems last season.
Woodson said he used Monday's scrimmage to take a longer look at several lineup combinations, and he expects to wait until Wednesday morning to decide.
Notes & quotes: The Knicks exercised the fourth-year team option on Iman Shumpert's rookie contract, keeping him under team control through next season. Shumpert sat out the scrimmage because of overall soreness, Woodson said . . . Tim Hardaway Jr. was sent home from practice because of an upper respiratory infection . . . Martin was excused from practice so he could be inducted into the University of Cincinnati athletic hall of fame.