Jason Kidd returned to the Knicks' practice facility Friday and said he hopes to play next week when the team hits the road.

Kidd (back spasms) missed his third straight game Friday night and likely is a no-go for Sunday's game against Phoenix.

The Knicks begin a three-game road trip Wednesday in Charlotte that also takes them to Miami and Chicago in a four-day span. Kidd hopes to play on the trip. "Hopefully, that's the plan, to get me back out there sometime next week," he said.

Kidd, 39, shot jumpers at the end of practice. " a lot better as the week's gone on," said Kidd, who said he had an MRI earlier in the week. "Just take it day-by-day. The goal is to be 100 percent when you come back. There's no need to rush."

 

Popping off

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Kidd was asked what he thought about Spurs coach Gregg Popovich resting three of his aging stars (and a fourth player) instead of playing them against Miami, an act that drew a $250,000 fine from NBA commissioner David Stern on Friday.

"I thought it was great," Kidd said. "That's his team. He's the coach of that team. He has every right to do what's right for the team. It's an older team. I did the same thing in Dallas."

 

Amar'e sighting

Amar'e Stoudemire (knee surgery) ran and went through agility and shooting drills at practice. The original timetable had him playing by late December.

"We're going to accept Amar'e back when he's ready to go, and when that is, I don't know," coach Mike Woodson said. "I really don't. That's a great sign he's out running and he's shooting a little bit."