New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire, who practiced for the first time Tuesday since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Nov. 1, said he is open to coming off the bench once he returns.
“You guys know me, ever since I’ve been here I’ve been all about winning and been a total team player,” Stoudemire told reporters after practicing at the Knicks’ training center in Greenburgh, N.Y. “Whatever it takes to win, that’s the goal.”
Knicks coach Mike Woodson did not divulge how he planned to use Stoudemire once he is able to return to the team. He said that he wanted unveil how he planned to use Stoudemire once an imminent date for his return was in sight.
Neither Stoudemire nor Woodson would give a hint to a potential return date, but Woodson did not rule out the possibility that he could return Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Woodson said that he wants Stoudemire to be at 100 percent before he plays him.
“I don’t have a date in my mind when I’m going to return,” Stoudemire said. “I just want to keep improving.”
Stoudemire practiced for the first time on Tuesday with the Knicks’ NBA D-League team, the Erie BayHawks. He complained of soreness in his left knee after the practice and said that was not unusual. He is expected to practice with the team again on Thursday because Woodson in being conservative about holding full practices with the Knicks condensed schedule.
In Stoudemire’s absence, the Knicks are 18-6 and lead the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. But the topic of discussion for sports enthusiasts is where he would be more effective in the Knicks rotation.
There are some who feel that coming off the bench is better for the Knicks and Stoudemire because he and Carmelo have had a difficult time building chemistry when they start alongside each other. The Knicks are 30-33 in the regular season when they both are both in the starting lineup.
But Woodson points to an 8-2 record the two have attained since he became coach in March.
“Our team was pretty good last season and we’ve been pretty good this season so I don’t see Amar’e being a problem and disrupting what we do,” Woodson said. “… It just makes us a deeper team. That’s kind of how I look at it.”
Stoudemire reiterated that he has always been a team player since entering the NBA and feels that his role will not change that much once he makes his return to the court.
“I don’t think nothing’s going to change much Coach Woodson and the staff know my game and know what I’ve been working on this summer,” Stoudemire said. “They’ve been watching my progress since they’ve been on the coaching staff. It’s up to those guys to figure out the best fit.”
Stoudemire wants to get back to the hardwood to help is squad, but not until he is fully healthy.
“Of course I want to play,” Stoudemire said. “But if I’m not able to go out there and be the player I can be and help my team then I’m not going to step foot on the court.”
The 6-foot-10 Stoudemire averaged 17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in 47 games with the Knicks last season. In his first season with the Knicks he averaged 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds a game.