Amar'e Stoudemire held out of opener, will play Thursday night

Amar'e Stoudemire of the Knicks looks on against Amar'e Stoudemire of the Knicks looks on against the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden. (Oct. 30, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Amar'e Stoudemire wanted to play on opening night since he was unable to last season, but ended up being a very expensive cheerleader.

Stoudemire was in uniform but held out against the Bucks. Kenyon Martin was the Knicks' backup big man. Stoudemire will play Thursday night in Chicago. The Knicks are platooning the two, especially when they play back-to-back games.

"I'm sure that's something we're just somewhat testing out until I'm healthy enough to play back-to-back games," said Stoudemire, who is coming back from his third knee surgery in 10 months. "I'm just trying to be stronger and healthier for the second half of the season. This game schedule works out for the both of us."

Stoudemire expects to play 10-15 minutes the first few games and hopes it gradually increases. He said he's playing tonight "for sure."

Mike Woodson said Stoudemire was "on standby" for the opener. Woodson also said if the Knicks had two days off between games he could have played both of them. Martin has been hampered by an ankle injury he suffered last season.

It's hard to know what to expect from Stoudemire, but president and general manager Steve Mills called him part of the core. "I see him as someone who contributes to the success of this team," Mills said. "Even in limited minutes -- he can be sort of a leader on this team and players respect what he's trying to do and what he's fought through. So I think as a group he can be one of the guys who helps keep this team together and helps lead us."

Presidential address

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President and general manager Steve Mills addressed reports that said the edict is to win a championship this season. "We try to win every year," Mills said. "Our goal is to try to win a championship and try to be as competitive as we can possibly be."

Mills said he plans to be patient and would like to see how Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani gel. "We like the roster we have right now," Mills said. "And I think we want to give it some time and see how they come together."

Mills wouldn't address Anthony's plan to opt out and be a free agent in the summer, saying he and Anthony had an agreement that they wouldn't comment on his future.

Smith's suspension starts

J.R. Smith's five-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy began. He will make his season debut in Game 6, Nov. 10 against the Spurs.

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