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Amar'e Stoudemire #1 of the New York Knicks warms up prior to the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden on December 13, 2012 in New York City. Amar'e Stoudemire.

Amar’e Stoudemire’s Return Is Near, Yet Still Uncertain

In a way, yesterday was big for the Knicks. They held their first full practice in almost a month and got Amar'e Stoudemire out there for all activities, including full-contact, full-speed scrimmages. In another way, yesterday was a letdown: Only nine Knicks were available to scrimmage as Iman Shumpert only participated in non-contact activities, Carmelo Anthony stayed resting his hyperextended knee, Tyson Chandler nursed a recently sprained ankle, Jason Kidd just needed rest, and Raymond Felton and Rasheed Wallace are just out. But let's focus on Amar'e, because yesterday was mostly about him.

Though he didn't get to do so with his most important teammates, Stoudemire played real full-court basketball against NBA players yesterday. It was the first time he'd done that since having surgery to clean up a ruptured popliteal cyst in late October. The participation alone is good news, but what did Amar'e have to say afterward?

“I felt better today than I did yesterday. Hopefully I’ll get a good reaction out of it tonight and tomorrow, see how it feels tomorrow,” Stoudemire said after his scrimmage that saw nine Knicks and a coaches’ assistant. “But it’s all predicated on how I feel the following day after a long hard day like today when I felt practice was really good. I was able to move how I wanted to with little restriction but not much. It’s definitely improving.”

But enough to allow him to play Tuesday? Stay tuned.

“It would be great if I could go on Jan. 1. I can’t determine how I feel tomorrow or the following day. If the next two days go well and I continue to improve then that will be a great day to start playing,” Stoudemire said.

Pretty much what you'd expect. The man's legs will never be free of pain, but there will hopefully be a point at which he doesn't feel too uncomfortable or fearful of re-injury. That's the point at which Amar'e can return, and we seem to be nearing that point. If that means he can play New Year's Day against the Blazers (after practicing again today), excellent. If not, the Knicks can keep waiting. No need to rush after all the time and work that went into getting healthy.

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Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images