Knicks president Donnie Walsh said there is a feeling of...

Knicks president Donnie Walsh said there is a feeling of "elation" about making the playoffs in his third year in the job. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr., 2008

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Donnie Walsh was in his usual spot next to the practice court at MSG Training Center Friday. Walsh didn't arrive in April 2008 with any "Knicks are back" proclamations, as Amar'e Stoudemire did last summer, but as Walsh watched his team practice, the satisfied look suggested the plan he put in place back then has gone according to schedule.

"I think, just watching today, that we'll be ready," Walsh said of the first-round playoff series against the Celtics, which opens Sunday.

So will Walsh, who will travel with the team to Boston for the first two games of the series. It'll be the second time this season, not counting games against the Nets in Newark, that Walsh has joined the team on the road.

He had hip replacement surgery in November -- his third medical procedure in a little more than two years -- and it has taken time for him to regain the ability to climb the stairs to the team plane without assistance. But you get the sense that, after enduring two losing seasons while dumping salaries to clear cap space, nothing is going to keep Walsh from seeing his team's first playoff game in person.

Perhaps a bigger thrill will come next Friday for Game 3, when the Knicks host a playoff game for the first time in seven years. "I'm sure my mood will be tempered by how we play in the first two games," he said.

Walsh can distract himself with the playoffs while his future with the franchise remains unsettled. There is a team option for next season that comes with an April 30 deadline. But even if April 30 passes without a decision, he can be signed to a contract extension before June 30.

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Stoudemire declared his left ankle 100 percent healthy. Before returning for the final regular-season game, he missed three straight games with a sprain . . . Chauncey Billups said he aggravated his left knee problem, which was a residual injury of the deep thigh bruise he suffered March 1, on Tuesday against the Bulls. But he quickly added, "I'm good. Ain't no issues."