NEW ORLEANS -- Mike Woodson was asked the $100-million question about whether he's committed to starting Amar'e Stoudemire when he returns from knee surgery.
Woodson was non-committal about that. But Woodson said he's still committed to making it work with Carmelo Anthony and Stoudemire, and is confident he can.
The Knicks' regular-season record when Anthony and Stoudemire play together is 30-33 -- 8-2 under Woodson. That gives him the belief he can make Anthony and Stoudemire click better than they did under old Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni.
"Is it an overall losing record with me as the coach?" Woodson asked before the Knicks opened this three-game trip against the Hornets. "I can't think about what happened before I took over. As a coach, I feel good about both of them playing together on the floor at the same time. That's not going to change."
That might be an indication that Stoudemire will start after he comes back from an Oct. 31 left-knee debridement, a procedure to remove unhealthy tissue. He was expected to miss 6-8 weeks, so a late December return is possible for Stoudemire, who didn't make this trip.
After Tuesday night's win, the Knicks are 21-7 overall without Stoudemire. Toward the end of last season and from the start of this one, they have been playing so well with Anthony at power forward that there has been a clamoring to bring Stoudemire, whom the Knicks signed to a five-year, $100-million contract in 2010, off the bench.
"I'm going to address that when I get to that point," Woodson said. "Right now, I'm just taking it a day at a time and working the guys we have in uniform as we speak."
The Knicks cause mismatch problems with Anthony playing power forward because he's quicker and can get his shot off easier against bigger players.
Stoudemire is better in pick-and-roll action, although Woodson had him work with Hakeem Olajuwon over the summer on developing his post game.
The Knicks have been running plenty of pick-and-rolls and the point guards are directing the offense. The ball is not always in Anthony's hands in post-ups and isolations. So Woodson believes he will find ways to make Anthony and Stoudemire effective together.
Either way, Woodson likely will have to go conventional and put Anthony back at his more natural position. When the Knicks play bigger teams, it takes its toll on Anthony.
On the Knicks' last trip, Anthony either guarded or was guarded by Glen "Big Baby" Davis, DeJuan Blair, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Respectively, they weigh 59, 40, 35, and 30 pounds more than Anthony. It will be difficult for Anthony to continue to do that without it affecting him.
"I've been thrust into this arena because of the injuries that we've had," Woodson said. "It started back last season. I feel like as a coach with the surrounding players that we have, we can make an adjustment if we need to. If we need to go big, I feel good about that because eventually you'll get back to playing Melo at some [power forward] if he starts at [small forward].
"The bottom line is if Melo is out there, he causes problems for any team, at the three or the four. I just think that's the luxury we have this season based on what we had last year. We just didn't have enough bigs to support what we were trying to do."