GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Both Knicks coach Mike Woodson and his erstwhile franchise player know the training staff's handle-with-care label affixed to Amar'e Stoudemire is not coming off anytime soon, so they aren't putting up an argument.
Since Stoudemire returned from the most recent in a series of knee surgeries on New Year's Day, he has been on the clock: originally limited to roughly 15 minutes per game and, at this point, no more than 30.
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For an 11th-year pro perennially among the league's marquee players, this numbers racket means spending at least three-eighths of every game on the bench. It means Stoudemire, a seven-time All-Star, has not started any of the Knicks' 53 games this season.
The dichotomy is more obvious with Stoudemire's recent performances. He made 9 of 10 shots and scored a season-high 22 points in Sunday's victory over Philadelphia, his previously solid midrange jump shot re-emerging alongside stronger play near the basket.
Still, Woodson remains under orders to trim Stoudemire's sails. "We worked our way up from 15, 16, 20 minutes and 30 minutes is the max," Woodson said. "He knows that."
On Tuesday, Stoudemire insisted: "I have no problem with it. I can be very productive in 30 minutes, so that's my motto right now, to be productive and aggressive and efficient in my 30 minutes."
His 13.7-point average is down dramatically from the 21.6 he brought into the season. Four Knicks average more -- including, of course, Carmelo Anthony, the man who has turned Stoudemire into the Knicks headliner's understudy.
"For a guy like that, who's been a starter and accomplished so much in this league, to accept that role," Anthony said, "we respect that."
Woodson suggested Stoudemire "look at it in the long run. If he's talking about extending his career, I think it's a great position to be in. I think a lot of things can be done in 30 minutes . . . and it's just a matter of what he brings and what he does on a night-in, night-out basis."
Not that Stoudemire doesn't believe he wouldn't accomplish plenty more if he were playing the 35 to 38 minutes typical of NBA stars.
"The more you play, the more chance of you being more efficient, that's the way I look at it," he said. "There's a lot more that I can do that I haven't really showed. There's pick-and-rolls, there's pick-and-pops, there's post-ups, there's jump shots. There's a lot of moves that I have that I haven't quite showed yet, so it's hard for teams to adjust. I mean, the inside game has just evolved this year, but the outside game is still there."
Still, "as long as we're winning," he said, "I'm fine with it."
Woodson reminded that having Stoudemire come off the bench "doesn't mean he's not going to be in there at the end of the game, when it really counts and he's got to make a difference. I think he's accepted his role and he's been pretty good at it, in terms of his play. We've just got to stay the course with him and help him as much as we can."