GREENBURGH, New York — Amare Stoudemire will likely be limited to about 10 to 15 minutes per game if he is able to return during New York's playoff series against the Indiana Pacers.
With Stoudemire nearing a comeback from a two-month absence following right knee surgery, both he and the Knicks are keeping expectations low.
"To be honest with you, I don't think we or he is expecting to come out and play 20 or 30 minutes and to score 15, 20, 30 points," forward Carmelo Anthony said Thursday. "I think he's just trying to gradually get himself back going. He understands that, we understand that, so if he says he's ready to go, he's ready to go. I mean, he's one of our guys. If he can help us, which we know he can, he can do that."
Not for long, though.
Coach Mike Woodson said the Knicks need to be cautious with Stoudemire, who played in only 29 games after returning from left knee surgery before having to get the same procedure on the other knee.
"We've talked a little bit about that. We talked about it way back when he had the surgery, what we expected from him based on him coming back, because I thought maybe we might have pushed him too much early on," Woodson said.
"So we've got to be really cautious this time I think with him and just make sure we're doing the right things with him. Not that we didn't think that when he came back the first time, but this time we've really got to be cautious and he understands."
Stoudemire worked out again Thursday, playing in 4-on-4 scrimmages and saying he felt better than he did after playing 3-on-3 Monday. Though not in great condition, he said he is ready for a minor role.
"I'm not playing 40 minutes a night, so as far as my conditioning now, it's in great shape as far as the amount of time I'm going to play," Stoudemire said. "If I was playing 40 minutes a night, then I'd give myself more time to get in better shape, but for the most part I feel pretty good."
The Knicks will wait to see how the veteran forward feels Friday before determining whether he will be in uniform Saturday for Game 3 in Indianapolis.
Stoudemire missed the first 30 games after having preseason surgery to clean up and remove tissue from his left knee. He returned Jan. 1 and averaged 14.2 points off the bench before having the same surgery, called a debridement, on the other knee on March 11.
Though the Knicks have been at their best utilizing a smaller lineup, Stoudemire would give them another scoring option in the halfcourt against Pacers big men Roy Hibbert and David West, no matter the size of his role.
"It's a matter of will. I can play whatever the coaching staff wants me to play," he said. "I'm going to continue to get in shape throughout these playoffs."