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amar'e stoudemire's left knee

Amar’e Stoudemire Will Be Gone Until the Holidays

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 29:  Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on December 29, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

As a general rule, it's good to treat initial reports of New York Knicks injuries the way you treat the ages of cats relative to humans. It's not the same as dog years — they're never off by a factor of seven — but it's handy for thumbnail math. Here's a helpful chart!

Anyway, suffice it to say, the early reports that said Amar'e Stoudemire would be out for two to three weeks after a cyst ruptured on his left knee were wrong: Now it's going to be six. At least. That's actually a six-to-eight-week projection, which is why it's sort of funny that everyone keeps saying it'll be six weeks: Never, ever assume it's going to be on the short end when you're talking about the Knicks.

Either projection keeps Stoudemire out until at least mid-December, and potentially as late as the Christmas game against the Lakers. Or even later than that. At this point, would it be the least bit surprising to see Amar'e not return until January? We're telling you: cat years.

Perhaps most concerning about Stoudemire's injury is the fact that a 40-year-old man will take his place in the starting lineup is the least worrisome aspect of it. Kurt Thomas will take Stoudemire's starting spot, and all told, he likely won't be too bad as a spot starter. The real benefit of having Thomas start (and having some variation of the big old dudes behind him) is that it might force, in crunch time, Carmelo Anthony to play the 4, a position he might not like but tends to play better at. Right now, you can absolutely see the Knicks going Kidd/Felton/Smith-Novak/Carmelo/Chandler down the stretch, and as unconventional as that setup might seem, we bet it wins some games.

The real issue is that Stoudemire being out this long once again delays the quixotic Carmelo-and-Amar'e-learn-to-play-together project that the Knicks have needed to figure out for a year and a half now. When (if?) Amar'e returns, the Knicks will have to go through yet another transition period, when everyone works on playing together and where everybody is on the floor. That'll take a month, at least, and then someone else will get hurt, and next thing you know, it's April and the Knicks are a seven seed. This Amar'e-Carmelo thing is a hamster wheel. Take your time, Amar'e. Take as much as you need.

Photo: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images