Amar'e Stoudemire will continue to come off the bench
PHILADELPHIA -- Amar'e Stoudemire has shown signs of returning to the explosive player he was two years ago, but Mike Woodson doesn't plan to start him in the foreseeable future.
"It makes sense now, but things can change," Woodson said after the team practiced at Temple University on Friday. "You just never know."
Stoudemire, who has averaged 15.7 points and 22.3 minutes the last three games, seems to have the most bounce he's had in his legs since returning Jan. 1 from left knee surgery. He had a big dunk and a huge tip-in in Thursday night's 89-86 win in Boston.
Woodson has been playing Stoudemire with Anthony and Tyson Chandler more, and he plans to continue that. But even though Raymond Felton likely will return from a hand injury Saturday night against the 76ers and Stoudemire had success playing with him two seasons ago, Woodson sees Stoudemire as a weapon with the second unit.
"I think when you got two threats like Amar'e and J.R. [Smith] coming off with [Steve] Novak being able to make shots and now with Raymond being back, it will open things for Novak a little more," Woodson said. "But to have all three of those guys coming off the bench scoring points, that helps us, I think. We can play through [Stoudemire] on the block as well as pick-and-rolls."
A six-time All-Star, Stoudemire continues to handle this new role professionally. He started all but 17 games the previous 10 seasons and will come off the bench Saturday night for the 11th time this season. He hasn't complained, though, and has gained Anthony's admiration.
"Just the fact that he did it," he said. "Before that thought even came up, we sat down and talked about that option. He said, 'Whatever at this point is going to help this team, I'm with it.' For a guy like that who's been through so much, who's been an All-Star in this league . . . who kind of turned the Knicks' organization back around, for him to accept that role, that's a big acceptance he had."
Anthony says the team needs Stoudemire to go far in the playoffs. "The guy's 30 years old," he said. "He still can go out there and be productive. He's still a go-to guy on this team. So for me to say I want to take that spot, no, I want Amar'e out on the court with us . . . Each game that goes on, he's getting better and better. With him coming off the bench, it's really going to help us."
Woodson said it will be up to him to figure out how to make Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler effective together and create spacing. But for starters, Woodson thinks Anthony's best position is power forward.
"For us right now it's been," Woodson said. "Statistics show that. But Melo is just a player. You can play him at three and go big and I'll still feel good about it. That's going to happen more often than not."
Notes & quotes: Rasheed Wallace (stress reaction, left foot) hasn't played or run since Dec. 13, but Woodson said, "If we had to play a playoff game today, he'll play." He said he hopes Wallace starts running "in the next week or so." . . . Woodson said Chris Copeland didn't play Thursday "because he's not practicing hard enough and not trying to make the commitment on the defensive end. If he does that, he's got a chance to play."