Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. — If Amar’e Stoudemire is cleared by the Knicks’ medical staff, Mike Woodson plans to play him for limited minutes in Game 3.
Woodson’s not suiting Stoudemire up to leave him on the bench, but the $100 million power forward will be capped at 10-15 minutes.
“I’m not going to risk what we’ve been doing but I am going to play him just to see where he is,” Woodson said Friday before the Knicks flew to Indiana for Game 3.
“I think if he’s where he needs to be, he didn’t play big minutes the first go around before he got hurt. His minutes will definitely be limited this go around. And he was pretty good in short minutes. So if he could just give us anything in the short time that he’s in there I think it will be very effective for our team.”
Friday was a recovery day for Stoudemire, who played four-on-four on Thursday as he continues his comeback from a right knee debridement in March. He did not address the media Friday after speaking Thursday. He will participate in shootaround Saturday and then the Knicks will decide if he is good to go.
Because Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony both play the same position — power forward — Stoudemire will likely only play when Anthony is not on the floor. Anthony is averaging 40 minutes in the postseason.
“It all depends,” Woodson said. “Right now [Stoudemire] is in that second rotation and that second rotation, when he was plying early on, was when Melo was on the bench. We’ve just got to weigh that out as we go along too to see where we are. I still like Kenyon [Martin] and Tyson [Chandler] and what they’ve given us and that’s not going to stop. They’ll continue to play minutes and do what they’ve been doing to help us win.”
Woodson has praised Martin’s contributions, and the power forward has averaged 6.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 20 minutes per game off the bench in the postseason.
Chandler, who has struggled in this series, starts and is averaging 5.4 points and 7.4 rebounds in 29 minutes per game in the postseason.
Chris Copeland also played 10 minutes off the bench in Game 2.
Stoudemire’s minutes must come from somewhere.
“I think when you have Amar’e coming back he gives us some depth on the inside, getting the ball inside and also another big body that can rebound,” Jason Kidd said. “He definitely helps us.”
Asked how Stoudemire has looked, Kidd said: “He looks good, from what I’ve seen. But he’s been out for a while so it’s going to take him some time to get in the rhythm.”
Stoudemire said Thursday he can still play “at a high level,” but also understands he must manage his expectations.
“It’s whatever. It’s a matter of will,” Stoudemire said. “I can play whatever the coaching staff wants me to play. … Any time you get on the court, you have a chance to make an impact on the game. So if I’m able to play for Game 3, however [much] time coach Woodson puts me in for, I’m going to definitely contribute.”
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.