Amare Stoudemire will return to the New York Knicks on Friday night after a nearly month-long absence due to a back injury. Stoudemire will start against the Cleveland Cavaliers, interim coach Mike Woodson said.
"Don't know how many minutes I'll play him, just kind of gauge it as we go along. It's good to have him back," Woodson said after Friday's shootaround.
Stoudemire has missed 13 games due to a bulging lower disk in his back.
The Knicks are 9-4 in Stoudemire's absence and clinched a playoff berth for the second straight season when the Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Indiana Pacers on Thursday.
"We just thought about when would be a good time to get a few games under my belt and we figured tonight would be a good start," Stoudemire said, adding that he doesn't feel any pain in his back. "We did a great job of just attacking the injury and making sure everything around the injury is secure."
Carmelo Anthony had been starting at power forward in place of Stoudemire and will move back to small forward. Shooting guard Landry Fields, who has been struggling of late, will come off the bench while rookie guard Iman Shumpert remains in the starting lineup.
The Knicks hope that Stoudemire can provide a consistent second scoring option that they've lacked at times in his absence.
Stoudemire was shooting around 40 percent from the field and averaging 17 points -- well below his career averages. Before he went down with the back ailment, Stoudemire was averaging 18 points on 57 percent shooting in the five games before his injury.
In other developments, the Knicks are expected to add big man Dan Gadzuric to the roster. Gadzuric traveled with the team to Cleveland. With Jared Jeffries out with a sore right knee, the Knicks need depth in the second unit. Jeffries is expected to rest until the start of the playoffs to try to heal his right knee, which has been bothering him for the past two months.
Small forward Bill Walker will be waived to make room on the roster for Gadzuric. The 34-year-old, nine-year veteran is expected to be eligible for the playoffs.
Information from ESPNNewYork's Ian Begley was used in this report.