Stoudemire’s Return To Present Real Challenge For Woodson

NEW YORK – Through 23 games, New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson is clearly the leading candidate for this season’s Coach of the Year award.

Well, it’s about to be time for Woodson to really earn that honor, because Amar’e Stoudemire has been cleared to practice for the first time since having knee surgery on Oct. 31. And though his teammates will be resting between games, Stoudemire is scheduled to get two practices in this week.

When it comes to designating their young players for assignment, the Knicks have not made much use of the D-League. But this week, they’ll take real advantage of their hybrid relationship with the Erie BayHawks.

Erie’s next game is in nearby Springfield on Friday. So the Knicks will have them practice at the MSG Training Center in Greenburgh this week. And that will allow Stoudemire to get in two full practices on Tuesday and Thursday while his NBA teammates rest. Playing every other day, the Knicks simply don’t have the opportunity to get in the practice time that Stoudemire needs to prepare for game action.

“He’s been cleared and we’re going to let him practice with the D-League team,” Woodson said. “And we’ll evaluate tomorrow after practice come Wednesday and see where he is and see how he feels.”

If practice goes well for Stoudemire, there’s a possibility that he could play Friday against Chicago or Sunday against Minnesota.

“The practices have got to go kind of in his favor,” Woodson said. “I don’t want him coming to me after tomorrow’s practice and saying, ‘Well coach, I’m hurt and sore.’ Then we’ve got to evaluate it and still take it a day at a time. I’m not going to rush him back. He’s got to be ready. And we’ll lean on him to tell me when he’s ready to go.”

The Knicks have been playing incredibly well without Stoudemire. Heading into Monday’s meeting with the Houston Rockets, they lead the Eastern Conference with an 18-5 record, a mark that includes two blowout wins over the second-place Miami Heat.

But if New York needs any help, it’s on the defensive end of the floor, where it currently ranks 16th and where Stoudemire is a liability. Only four teams have regressed more defensively this season than the Knicks, who are allowing about four points per 100 possessions more than they did last season.

The Knicks’ offense, meanwhile, is running like a well-oiled machine. It ranks second in the league behind Oklahoma City and is scoring nine points per 100 possessions better than the league average, which would make it the third-best offense — behind the 2003-04 Mavericks and this year’s Thunder — since the 1977-78 season, when the league started counting turnovers.

So it’s unclear how Stoudemire can help at this point. Last season, of course, he hurt the Knicks, who were much better, both offensively and defensively, when Stoudemire wasn’t playing. Since trading for Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks are 35-45 (including 1-7 in the postseason) in games in which Stoudemire has played. And New York has been outscored by 123 points in the 1,880 minutes that Anthony and Stoudemire have played together.

But things have clearly been different under Woodson than they were under Mike D’Antoni. The Knicks are 36-11 in the regular season under Woodson entering Tuesday’s action, 9-2 in games that Stoudemire played at the end of last season.

Anthony will miss his fourth game this season on Monday, still recovering from the sprained ankle he suffered in last Thursday’s win over the Lakers.

Assuming Anthony is healthy by the time Stoudemire returns, Woodson will have a serious rotation dilemma to deal with. With Anthony clearly more potent offensively playing the four in the Knicks’ offense, he must stagger his two stars’ minutes as much as possible. And whether or not Stoudemire eventually returns to the Knicks’ starting lineup, it will be a serious challenge for Woodson to keep his mojo going as he integrates Stoudemire into his rotation.

But hey, nobody said winning the Coach of the Year award was easy.

***

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

57 Comments

  1. huhay says:

    why does everyonbe thinks amare’s gonna ruined evrything? melo and amare fits, dey just have to adjust to the system.

  2. huhay says:

    you don’t need t trade amare its not like without amare they are a team to beat like der 20-5 or 21-4 like okc, they r 19-6, yes they play better without amare but not the best basketball.. they still gonna need his presence on the court. he could bring up 13 to 15 pts 7 rebs or better in a consistent basis than anybody in that roster remember he is a star. they gonna need him coz this is a old roster. ones they’ll gel in, now they gonna be a team to beat. and everybody thinks melo could bring it all remember this is not the 90s wer 1 player could bring u a ring. no trades are needed this is good in along run, coz when someones gonna get hurt on that OLD roster amare could fill in big time.

  3. Dr. Dan Drungus says:

    I totally understand the panic. The knicks look better than they have since WIllis Reed was running back onto the floor from the locker room, and there’s always that fear with a hot team that the bottom will fall out. Add in a player of Stats…um…stature, I get the fretting. You just gotta remember that this is what’s been the plan since day 1. Not to forget the veteran leadership of players like Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace will keep everyone’s heads cool. These are championship winning players, trust in them.

    Just remember back when they signed Mello. Everyone saying “the things this team will be able to do in the future are scary”…now’s the future. Don’t fret, represent.

    I’m a Celtics fan, and I’m telling you, you guys have nothing to worry about.

  4. Jon says:

    Chemistry, chemistry, chemistry. Problem is, it will never work. Whether we like it or not, Amare will ruin the potentially great season for the Knicks. Poor Melo.

  5. eastcoast says:

    let amare come off the bench with him,smith, novak, prigioni, brewer (when shumpert comes back) or vice-versa even if shumpert comes off the bench it is still going to be intimated bench not only will opponents have to worry about the starters they will have to worry about the bench. Listen we all know amare aint the same player but he did bring NY back to life, and he is still a intimidating player i;ll keep him, everyone talking about last yr that was last yr leave it in the past, dont forget the new change takes time to adjust and Amare had lost his brother last yr mentally he was not there this year i think he knows what has to be done…WELCOME BACK AMAREEEE! …PS f Gasol that dude has no heart i rather not trade Amare for a guy who shows up when he wants to

  6. SJW says:

    I can tell either a lot of you have not played competitive basketball or just do not understand the chemistry of the game. The starting five should be your best 5 with the highest basketball IQ! So, lets look at the best starting five, Felton, Kidd, Melo, Stat, and Chandler. They all have high IQs and are the most talented on the Knicks with maybe one exception, Shump. Now, In order for this to work everyone must play to their strenghts, Melo excellent on strong side off the dribble, outside jump or even post up. Kidd play maker and 3 pointer as of late, Felton is an excellent pick and role with penetration. Stat great pick roll, post up on weak side, mid range jumper and Chandler, excellent defender, decent rebounder and can clean up on boards as Melo Stat will require double team. If they can get this system to work for them, there is not a team in the leauge can compete.

    The bench is now crazy with JR, Shump, Novack, Wallace etc.. If the Knicks are going to win Championship they must get chemistry from there stars and support from bench. Anyone who plays the game knows it takes time to develop chemistry and I bet if given time for first unit to gel, the knicks will be a force for many seasons to come provided they stay healthy.

  7. SAM says:

    um. so from your logic, you are saying “dawg. we got an allstar on the bench, but you know what we dont need him, melo is gonna carry us 82 games a season, lets randomly get rid of him” Melo has sat out twice this season, he is a well deserved allstar, but judging from experience, this 30+ streak he has and his feel for his shots will not last all season. What happens if melo goes down? the team may win a few games, but i don’t think the rest of the knicks is able to carry far. So, i don’t think this idea of let’s trade amare is a good idea, besides, he is a WAY better pick n roll player and offensive player than tyson. tyson carries out de, amare carries O. it’s perfect.

  8. mhmmmm says:

    it’s a waste reminding anyone that bashes Stat what he did before for the team. They probably just bandwagoned when Melo came.

  9. WarriorsFan5 says:

    Not too fast on ‘Woodson clearly the leading candidate for Coach of the Year’. I’d say right behind Mark Jackson with the Warriors. Last road trip record 6 of 7…included trips to BKN, MIA and ATL.

  10. smh says:

    Cant W8 to see felton throw a lob to stat AGAIN,.,., b4 melo came

  11. Geiler says:

    In the past Amar’e seems to have been most effective (at least offensively) when playing the 5, so there’s a potential for it to work with Carmelo. The problem may be more down to how he fits in with Chandler’s minutes, though with a deep rotation of experienced bigs, there’re all sorts of potential combinations that may or may not be successful.

    I don’t see what the big deal is with being a ‘Starter’ – it seems the only difference is that you get your name announced before the game. Surely it should be about getting minutes. Kurt Thomas ‘started’ when Carmelo was out and played 5 minutes, so the starter thing to me seems meaningless. I hope Woodson looks at this problem progressively and gets Amar’e meaningful minutes, regardless of whether he starts games sitting on the bench or not. Ginobilli rarely starts and yet, when healthy, he’s one of the most important parts of the Spurs’ rotation.

  12. Stat and Melo says:

    Wasn’t Melo playing number 3 when kidd was hurt. Didn’t he kill the opposing team anyway? So what changes if amare starts? He’s much better than kurt thomas for sure. He doesn’t need to take the spotlight away from melo but Stat will for sure benefit in the pick and roll. Now comes another post player instead of only having melo. Stop all this non sense and wait and see. I guess they just have no more topic to write about.

  13. Brandon says:

    I don’t think the franchise is going to be happy bringing a max-contract player off the bench as a long-term option.

    • Martin says:

      if they want to win the ring they would.. Melo, Chandler and Amare playing at the same time doesn’t work. Isn’t that why they brought him here? to win? who cares who comes off the bench as long as the team plays well. I been waiting for this teams for years, From a laughingstock to a contender. Knicks are great once again

  14. IdealTheReal says:

    I have absolute confidence in Mike Woodson’s ability to get the best out of his players. Adding a six time all star and one of the best finishers in the game at the rim is a GIFT, not a PROBLEM. STAT will replace a limited offensive player in Chandler in the pick and roll and open up the floor due to the fact that he can shoot as well. I understand that many fans criticize STAT for his defense, but wait. During the 10-11 season he averaged 1.9 blocks per game, and avgs 1.4 his entire career! That’s just as much as current reigning DPOY Chandler ( though Tysson is more of a shot alterer and help defender ). Not only that, he added a post game as well. Look out for this team when STAT and Shumpert come back. KNICKS TAPE ALL DAY!

  15. […] Earlier this week New York Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire was cleared to begin practice, but his practice squad wont be the one you would typically think. The Knicks are sending Stoudemire to the D-League to allow him to get in more work than he would with the NBA squad. Here are details: […]

  16. KOJ says:

    I’m a CELTIC fan.
    First off, the KNICKS are what they are now because of Amare. Camelo can on board after this man pushed the KNICKS to limelight again. Loyalty demands he be treated good.
    I guess the C’s could use him if its affordable.

  17. D-ROc says:

    We still have time before the whispers around the league starts regarding the trade of Stoudemire. But if this past offseason taught us anything (JOE JOHNSON) is that any player with any contract can be moved if a team shows interest in him. Now it is obvious that there is a problem, seeing as melo and stat play at the same position. However, it is still too early to deem a failure because there has not been enough time under mike woodson to determine if this union will work. Maybe he could be reignited as a sixth man and thrive in that role, as he is a guy who has averaged 20 ppg in the past. But trade him? Not a chance that it happens, at least not for right now.

  18. stoudemire is the beast

  19. No coach can do what Doc did with Celts, made history; “06-“07 last place worst reg season record, “07-“08 first place best reg season record, playoffs “08 couple of 7 game series (a little drama on the way so the competition felt better playing against true Champions) to make BANNER 17. forget about coach of the year, Doc’s 2nd all time after Red. Why’s everybody trying to duplicate what Celts been doing for decades-style of play-take a guess???????

  20. Jem says:

    All of you should not worry. It’s not your job, anyways. It’s Mike Woodson’s job. Just watch and enjoy the game. Cheers for Stoud.

  21. charlie says:

    felton, kidd, melo, amare, chandler.. the starting lineup in 2-3 weeks. The true test of allcoated minutes will come with Shumpert’s return.

  22. Nore says:

    DONT YOU REMEMBER??!!?!?!?!

    You want someone like him to leave? And play against you??

    Nah!!! You want him to be the 6th Man and get multiple rings with him!!

  23. rick says:

    STAT was Blake Griffin before Griffin; an absolute beast in his prime. He’s lost a step now in the latter part of his career but far from a washout. If he buys into Woodson’s defense-minded system (and now with Kidd, Chandler to keep him in check, it should be easier) the Knicks will be more potent than ever with him back on active roster. Besides no trade would be possible anyway, given the unknowns of his rehab/overall health and bloated contract.

  24. #WolvesNation says:

    He should be a Solid 6th man for this team and possibly 6th Man of the Year.

  25. jason tan says:

    IF THE KNICKS WILL TRADE STAT GO TO PISTONS AND BRING WITH YOU SMITH,KIDD,CAMBY,THOMAS, BARON DAVIS,SHUMPERT,CHANDLER. HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA

  26. jason tan says:

    GO AMARE YOU ARE A TRUE KNICKERBOCKER. TRADE ANTHONY!

  27. jason tan says:

    trade anthony! I LIKE KNICKS VETERANS PLAY NOT MELO.

  28. Knicks Fan says:

    Keep Amare!! play him as the 6th man!! and then the Knicks will be the ones to take out miami.

  29. Richard says:

    NYK don’t have to worry like LAL. Coach Woodson got better defensive schemes and the teams got the best role players, elder statesmen like JKidd, Camby and Sheed to help everyone commit into the system coach wants ‘em to do. Just see how Melo’s been performing defensively recently. I believe STAT could commit to that also. He’s a winner, he wants to win and I think he will understand how to get there, of course with the help of those elders. It’s JKidd’s magic to a team really, remake of that Dallas championship team a few years back.

  30. Joel Fraser says:

    STAT will be great this season how can a true Knicks fan turn their back on the man that started it all ?? Smh

  31. jonP says:

    NYK can make him 6th man if amare he wants to contribute, he should accept his role

  32. Knicks ftw says:

    Amare is a great pick-n-roll guy. He will be a great fit in the offense with felton just like before melo came to nyk. Hope he will adjust to the role coach woodson will give him. Nyk ftw!!

  33. luckyboy_9 says:

    I dont think there would be teams willing to gamble on Amare’s big contract. Carmelo Anthony seems to be a perfect fit at the power forward position. But putting him on the bench not as a starter would also be a blunder being the franchise player of the knicks, it would just be like the old knicks with their best player Stephon Marbury not playing. Pride and ego would kick in really bad. This is a great problem for Woodson.

  34. jonas says:

    If he plays as the 6th Man, knicks should be scary now. they can beat miami anytime they want, they have as much firepower with their first 5, and their bench with stoudemire and jr smith would be nasty. time to unleash the knicks baby!!

  35. Nore says:

    Again i cant understand all of you!

    STAT is still a Beast! And remember with Felton he had one of the most teriffic pick and roll games i ever saw – still a very good choice when it comes to offence and defence … well ok you got a point there BUT he defends better at the 5 spot so i would say bring him of the Bench for Melo or Chandler – do it both!

    But never try out to play BIG with Melo, STAT and Chandler – we saw last Year that this Lineup couldn’t hack it with each other – maybe under Woodson but you still have a Beast of the Bench who can play the 4 or the 5

    Bring him for Melo and he delivers on offence – bring him for CHandler and he will defend the bigger guys well – his blocking ability aint that bad!!

    ANd remember HE who brought the City of New York back into the Spotlight Basketballwise said that it would be okay for him to come of the Bench!

    Man a former All Star of the Bench? AGainst other Bench Players?! Awsomness!!!

    Give that Man a chance – he deserved it!

    ANd Amare – dont listen to the haters man – you will do great – i know!

    Greetings from Germany!

    GO KNICKS!!!

    • Stat and Melo says:

      Amen to this. I don’t understand how they say melo is better at number 4. He is just better period. It might not worked before because they don’t have a point guard like they have now with felton and kidd. no offense to jeremy lin but this time they have a point guard that will kill opponents with their pick and roll. let melo play his game and ask amare to be a role player. If he is willing to come off the bench then he should be fine with being a role player with melo. makes it easier for melo as he have another scorer on the floor. defense will not only focuse on melo. Also Stat will defend the opponent’s PF so melo doesn’t have to get in foul trouble early say as when he was defending Z-Bo or other big PF. Melo is good if you put him at 345. He doesn’t hug the ball like LBJ in which i don’t think the heat actually needs a PG because LBJ is a ball hug. again you have 3 very good point guards in the knicks so I don’t know what the problem will be. they will only get better. you all are just scared with the knicks when they get in full force.

  36. Celtics4Life says:

    stoud for barg?

  37. solohista says:

    trade amare to gasol

  38. I hate Stoudemire HATERS says:

    Just to let all you haters know, Stoudemire was in the MVP race in 2010, he had 10 consecutive games of 30+ points. LET THE MAN PLAY! So what if he comes off the bench? That just makes the Knicks’ second unit 10x better! Without Amare the knicks wont win a ring, come playoff time Amare will step it up like he always has.

  39. Real basketball mind says:

    you only lose a gamble when he does not help the team. in his first full season on the knicks he lead them to the playoffs even though they lost to boston.

  40. scorchin says:

    Amare is certainly a valued player on the this team. Both he and Shumpert (what’s his return timeline?) should be able to grab some serious minutes off the bench to start. Curious to see Amare play as a 5 against teams going small. That might be good for when Chandler is out or off the bench.

  41. Darek says:

    no one will take his contract and his injury prone self. Knicks gambled when they got him and lost.

  42. Babao says:

    Trade him to the Celtics…

  43. Willy says:

    Bob, you are on drugs. Imagine your team, with you as point guard. Amare is on the bench, he is hurt, but then he gets better, you don’t want him to play? Are you high? Ok, limit his minutes, work him into a rotation, but man this guy is incredible he will help the Knicks win a RING this year, without him no chance! Sorry Bob get a grip!

  44. Real basketball mind says:

    Stoudemire did not do anything? Are you serious he carried the team before carmelo anthony and chauncey billups came to the knicks if you do not recall

  45. AAPL made me rich! says:

    TRADE HIM, damaged goods

  46. Bob says:

    Why mess up a good thing. Time to trade Stoudemire. That’s the way things go–and he really hasn’t done much since he was there to warrant staying.

    • SdotCeltics says:

      I dont think there is a team that would take a risk on him with the knees and his big contract

    • dmm200 says:

      One problem with that. Who wants him?

      • emedr05 says:

        D’antoni could use him in LA. Pau for Stoudemire? Not ideal…but it would solve a lot of problems on both ends

    • yeaaaah says:

      before they got carmelo, stoudemire helped revive the knicks. so i wouldnt say he hasnt done much, hes a great player. if woodson can get them all to gel the knicks could become an even better team to reckon with

    • Eli Odell J. says:

      whaaaattt?? “time to trade him”….. Lord have mercy…… amare’s one of the best PF’s there is, regardless of all that nonsense what came before he can only be an improvement, over time, man trade y’self to the dumpster, its you peoples answer to everything, well guess what? that dont fix nothin

      • Berdugo says:

        He WAS one of the best PF’s.
        Now to mention, his performance was highlighted when he was with Nash.

      • slider821 says:

        Also, he spent a lot of time with Hakeem this offseason and hasn’t had the opportunity to show what he’s learned/improved on since he was sidelined with an injury. He could have gained some valuable skills and may come back even better than before.

        Give him a chance. Knicks fans are always ready to throw someone under the bus but Amare’s time for that is not now, not yet at least.

        I think Prigioni’s game will complement Amare well and with them both on the second unit, that team could be powerful. Once Shump is back the defense will improve and this team has a chance in the playoffs. Exciting stuff.