Chauncey Billups has resumed full basketball workouts, which gives him about seven weeks to prepare for training camp. Or, at least, to prepare for when training camp is tentatively scheduled to open.
According to Billups' agent, Andy Miller, the Knicks veteran guard last week had his left knee examined by a private orthopedist -- players aren't permitted to be treated by the team's medical staff during the lockout -- and he was cleared. Billups suffered a bruised knee in the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Chicago Bulls and then crumpled to the floor late in Game 1 of the first round series against the Boston Celtics. He did not play for the rest of the series, which ended in a four game sweep.
The Knicks had the option to waive Billups a week after the playoffs ended, which would have saved them $10 million in salary cap space. But Donnie Walsh decided to stick with Billups, who will be 35 next month. He battled through injuries after coming to the Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony trade, but when he was healthy, he was very effective.
Billups is scheduled to earn $14 million next season, the highest salary of his career, in the final year of his contract. A prolonged lockout, however, would result in losing that money.
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* - To clear up a misconception -- mistakenly perpetuated here -- Amar'e Stoudemire does not need to have his sore back muscle "cleared" by a doctor to resume workouts. Stoudemire was already cleared by the Knicks medical staff at the end of the season. According to a person close to Stoudemire, he was advised to "take it easy" if it feels tight. He said in recent interviews that his back was still sore and he decided to take two weeks off from working out to rest.
As we reported in yesterday's Fix, Stoudemire is scheduled to leave Aug. 17 for a Nike Basketball tour through China. He is attempting to put together a minicamp in early September for his fellow Knicks teammates at the IMG facility in Bradenton, Fla. It is still in the planning stages and, according to a few sources, I've talked to there has been no notification to other Knicks players about the workouts.