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.
NEW YORK — The Knicks’ prospects of making the playoffs, let alone making any kind of postseason run, became a whole lot cloudier Monday with the news that Amar’e Stoudemire is out “indefinitely” after an MRI revealed a a bulging disk in his lower back.
Point guard Jeremy Lin will also sit for tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks — who trail the Knicks by 1 1/2 games for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference — and is day-to-day with a sore left knee.
Stoudemire is in Miami seeking a second opinion on his back and may still opt to have surgery.
“If he has to have surgery, he’s gotta rehab and come back,” interim coach Mike Woodson said. “He’s still a young player.”
Stoudemire has an uninsured contract because of his history of knee problems.
He is averaging 17.6 points and 8.0 rebounds on the season, but had been playing well of late. In his last five games, he’s averaging 18.6 points and 8.6 boards.
Stoudemire sat out the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against the Detroit Pistons and then was not at shootaround Monday.
Without Stoudemire and Lin, Woodson planned to start Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler.
The loss of Stoudemire means the Knicks might have to play some more “small ball,” Woodson said.
With Jared Jeffries (knee) and Billy Walker (elbow) also out, Stoudemire’s absence also means more playing time for Josh Harrellson and Steve Novak.
“The guys that do play tonight, we expect them to step up and play,” Woodson said.
The Stoudemire development came as news to teammates like, Lin, Carmelo Anthony and Mike Bibby.
Asked if the team could still make the playoffs, Lin said: “I haven’t heard anything about how long [he’s out] so I’m not even going to go there in terms of talking about him not being with us.”
Bibby said other players would have to fill in.
“Somebody’s gotta step up,” Bibby said. “He’s down, we can’t bring him back right now and somebody has to step up.”
Lin said his sore knee felt better than it did Saturday when he also sat out the fourth quarter, but did not rule out missing Wednesday’s game, too.
“We came to the decision afterwards [shootaround] to rest it,” Lin said, calling himself “day-to-day.”
Davis, Lin’s main backup, is coming back from a herniated disk and has been bothered by a right hamstring injury.
“If I see that he’s not doing some things that we need him to do, then I gotta pull him and go with either Bibby or Toney [Douglas],” Woodson said.
“I don’t think we can sit here and say we can play Baron 30 minutes. Not right now. I don’t think I can do that.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.