Though training camp doesn’t officially begin until October 1, following Media Day on September 30, several New York Knicks players are already gathering in Greenburgh, NY for scrimmages and work-outs. ESPN’s Ian Begley caught up to Raymond Felton, who said that forward Amar’e Stoudemire hasn’t been participating in these early scrimmages. Felton told Begley:
“We don’t want to risk [injury]. Not in practice. We’d rather have them for the 82 [games] that we have coming up,”
While this is undoubtedly the safer move, it’s troubling news for fans hoping that Stoudemire could give the Knicks a productive, full season. Stoudemire is already expected to be on a minutes limit this season, and he likely won’t play in back-to-backs, which would already hold him out of at least 18 games this year. Throw in additional days of minor injuries, soreness, or sickness, and Stoudemire likely won’t even make it to 60 games this year.
In limited doses last season, Stoudemire found his niche with this current core of Knicks. He struggled early on to find his rhythm, but by late February and early March, Stoudemire was a valuable part of the Knicks bench, coming in and acting as an additional offensive threat. He began to utilize his post moves he worked on with Hakeem Olajuwon in the summer, he regained the stroke on his mid-range jumper, and he found a way to be efficient attacking the basket off cuts and finishing easy dunks. Then, of course, just 29 games into his already abbreviated season, “knee soreness” revealed itself to be a bigger problem that would require another knee debridement surgery.
Heading into this season, there have been cautionary signs that we won’t get to see a healthy Stoudemire patrolling the paint this year. He cancelled plans to work out with Olajuwon again and spent most of his time in Israel where he’s made business connections. To currently not participate in team-organized scrimmages is understandable; by all means, it would be better to save him for official training camp so he can get re-acclimated with the team and coaches. Perhaps precaution is just what Stoudemire needs — a limited role on a team he, quite frankly, doesn’t fit well with, might be better for him in the long-run.
However, when the players are being this cautious about Stoudemire’s body — on top of the team-designated limits that will be imposed during the regular season — it sure doesn’t sound like Stoudemire can be counted on this season.
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