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amare stoudamire

The Knicks Will Open the Season Without Amar’e Stoudemire

Amare Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks looks on after the Knicks won 89-87 against the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Let us start by noting that Amar'e Stoudemire's most recent injury doesn't seem to be a major one, at least not right now. Stoudemire's knees have gone through a lot, and the ruptured popliteal cyst he suffered over the weekend — gross as it sounds — appears to be the kind of thing that happens to weathered knees. The man leg's are, as we suspected, past peak physical condition and in need of extra care, but this acute issue shouldn't keep him off the court for too long. Of course, Knicks fans have learned to be suspicious of prognoses offered by the team, so everything I just said could be false. Based on the available information, though, it sounds like Amar'e will miss a half-dozen games at most.

Interestingly enough, Stoudemire's absence forces Mike Woodson into experimenting with lineups some Knicks fans wish he'd favor even with Amar'e healthy. Against teams with traditional, bruising big men at the four and five, the Knicks will just start Kurt Thomas in Stoudemire's stead and call it a gameplan. Nothing interesting. However, against smaller, more versatile frontcourts (which are common these days), Woodson will tickle everyone's fancy and shift Carmelo Anthony up to power forward. Melo's ability to guard most fours and create from the post allows for a lineup with two point guards and Ronnie Brewer (who's finally ready to play) up at the three, or perhaps one with Steve Novak around to create space from the perimeter. With Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace still shelved indefinitely, some creative frontcourts must be in the offing.

Basically, the Knicks are relatively well equipped to adapt to Stoudemire's absence, however long that may be. Of course, that's easy to say now when they've yet to play a meaningful game without him. On the other hand, the Knicks might roll over their tough season-opening schedule, again raising questions of whether Stoudemire should start once he returns. In the meantime, we'll just dream of a day when the Knicks are fully healthy and can work with the same lineups from one game to the next. Someday.

Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images