GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Amar'e Stoudemire said he wants to help the East-leading Knicks, not disrupt them.
After scrimmaging for the first time in about two months, the six-time All-Star and $100-million man said he would be willing to come off the bench if that's what Mike Woodson wants.
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"Whatever it takes to win," Stoudemire said yesterday. "You guys know me. Ever since I've been here, I've been all about winning and been a total team player. So whatever it takes to win, that's the goal."
Woodson wouldn't address Stoudemire's role because he's still not ready to play.
Stoudemire scrimmaged with the Knicks' D-League team, the Erie BayHawks, yesterday, and felt soreness in the left knee that was surgically repaired on Halloween. He and Woodson said the soreness was to be expected.
Unless his knee bothers him, Stoudemire could practice again Thursday. Woodson didn't rule him out of making his season debut Friday or Sunday. But Stoudemire, who had to be assigned to the D-League to scrimmage with Erie, isn't ready to commit to anything.
"I'm not where I want to be at this point," he said. "I'm pretty sure I can get there soon. I don't have a date in my mind when I'm going to return. I just want to keep improving."
"I don't know where everyone got that assumption that I'd be back Christmas Day," said Stoudemire, who hadn't spoken to the media since Oct. 19. "I never made that statement at all. I'm not totally sure if I'll be back by then or not."
If he can go through some more practices this week, it's possible that Stoudemire could get into Sunday's game against Minnesota. But Stoudemire and the Knicks will keep taking it slowly.
The Knicks have compiled an 18-6 record. How well they have played without him and with Carmelo Anthony at power forward has led to speculation that Stoudemire would be the highest-paid sub in pro sports.
"Right now things are going very well for our ballclub," Woodson said. "Until Amar'e is in position to play again, we'll make decisions then. I'm comfortable in that area in terms of where we're going to go based on what we're doing and where we are at that particular time. So we'll see."
Stoudemire gave an indication, though, that he could become the Knicks' starting power forward again once he can play regular minutes.
"I don't think nothing's going to change much," he said.
Woodson has said he believes he can make the Anthony-Stoudemire tandem effective and has pointed to his 8-2 record with the two of them to back up his claim. The Knicks' regular-season mark is 30-33 overall with Anthony and Stoudemire together.
"I don't look at it with Amar'e and Melo's record," Woodson said. "I look at it as a team record. And our team was pretty good last season and we've been pretty good this season. So I don't see Amar'e being a problem and disrupting what we do. It's just getting him back into the thick of things. It just makes us a deeper team. That's kind of how I look at it."