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Amar'e Stoudemire says he's back to being a dominant player

Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire practices during training camp

Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire practices during training camp at the Madison Square Garden training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y., on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Amar'e Stoudemire's goal other than staying healthy is showing people he can still be an All-Star caliber player.

"I think the previous years of battling injuries people have forgot," Stoudemire said after practice Tuesday. "But it's my job to remind them.

"The game will speak for itself. You go out and play within the system, play team basketball -- the game will speak for itself."

Never short on confidence, Stoudemire has been beaming throughout training camp because he returned to the Knicks healthy.

"It has been a long time since I have been this excited to start the year off," Stoudemire said.

The past two offseasons and preseasons, Stoudemire spent more time rehabbing than playing basketball.

The Knicks, who open the preseason Wednesday night against the Celtics in Hartford, are still limiting Stoudemire in practice, hoping it means he can play more in the regular season.

Stoudemire, a six-time All-Star, was a bright spot for the Knicks last season. He scored 11.9 points in 65 games -- his most since 2010-11. Over the last six weeks, Stoudemire averaged 16.0 points, which confirmed to him that he could be in store for a solid season.

"Obviously to reach back to my dominant self, I feel like I'm there now," he said. "I feel like my body is feeling so much stronger so I feel dominant."

Stoudemire has said this before, many times. His health is the only thing that has slowed him.

After signing a five-year, $100-million deal in 2010, Stoudemire was an MVP candidate for the first 31/2 months of that season. But his body broke down as back and knee injuries and surgeries have made it seem like a bad investment for the Knicks.

Now, in the last year of that deal, Stoudemire, who will make $23.4 million, said he wants to keep playing beyond this season, and making sure he gets a big contract isn't driving him.

"Whether it is my last year or not, my children are excited to watch me play, my family still loves watching basketball and seeing me out there so I do it for them," said Stoudemire, who will be 32 next month. "I continue to work hard to try to improve every single season, I battled through injuries. I persevered, stayed strong and stayed positive to be successful. With all the hard work, I am sure it will pay off this season.

"This is definitely not the last year for myself, I feel like the work I put in this offseason and the way I feel now is great motivation for me to continuing playing."

The Knicks have several players vying for minutes at power forward and center. But first-year coach Derek Fisher said Stoudemire fits well in the Knicks' new triangle offense. Stoudemire excelled playing in a movement-oriented system coached by Mike D'Antoni with the Suns and Knicks.

"He's invaluable to what we're trying to do right now," Fisher said. "His versatility, his ability to shoot the basketball, to stretch the floor, his presence, his voice. I think he fits well into what we're doing defensively, understanding things and being very clear for him what we expect. I think guys enjoy being on the team with him. There are leadership qualities with Amar'e that you can't replace necessarily."

Notes & quotes: Fisher wouldn't reveal his starting five, but Carmelo Anthony, Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert are safe bets to be with the first team tonight . . . Iman Shumpert (hamstring) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (hip inflammation) went through all of practice. Fisher hopes they can play against the Celtics . . . Fisher said he hasn't decided whether J.R. Smith will be a starter or sixth man yet. "J.R.'s been great in camp," Fisher said. "He hasn't done himself any disservice in terms of proving that he's ready to take on whatever role we all ultimately decide on."

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