After dealing with lower back issues on and off since 2011, the focus has turned to his left knee, which underwent microfracture surgery in October 2005. He suffered a bone bruise on that same knee during practice on Oct. 10, and then an MRI revealed the ruptured popliteal cyst in its joint area.
After consulting with ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell for more insights, here's what the injury means to STAT's health, as well as the team:
1. A popliteal cyst, or Baker's cyst, is not uncommon and not a serious injury. It's usually the result of irritation in the knee joint, which produces fluid that collects in the back of the knee. If the cyst ruptures, there is pain and inflammation into the calf muscles, which is what happened with Stoudemire. It's possible for these cysts to recur, especially if the joint continues to be irritated. What's more important is the long-term durability of his left knee because of his previous microfracture procedure.
2. Rest and Stoudemire's conditioning level will help. Because he was dealing with a recent bone bruise, the rest from the cyst recovery will help his knee -- and the timing of it is still early enough for additional precautionary measures to be taken. In addition, Stoudemire is in great shape, and the more fit an athlete is, the better he is in terms of healing, maintenance and staving off the recurrence of any new symptoms.
1. Kurt Thomas will likely start at power forward. Thomas can knock down the 15-foot-jumper, and even at 40 years old, he has the size and smarts to defend post-up players. But he will have a harder time guarding quicker stretch fours, like the Andrea Bargnanis of the NBA. That's why those assignments could likely go to Carmelo Anthony or Tyson Chandler to allow Thomas to stay on the opposing team's traditional big man.
2. Anthony will play more at the four position. This has been the most talked about item since the news of Stoudemire's injury, and here's why: When STAT was out with a bulging disc in his lower back from March 26 to April 18 last season, Melo was arguably the best stretch four in the league. He averaged 30.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals per game, while shooting 50.5 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from downtown. And during that span, the Knicks went 9-4.
3. Expect Chris Copeland to make the team, and possibly be part of the rotation. Before Stoudemire's injury, the 28-year-old rookie was nearing a guaranteed roster spot, punctuated by his 34-point performance Saturday night against the Celtics. Now that STAT's out, the power forward position is wide open. Mike Woodson could go with Thomas, Marcus Camby for defense or even Steve Novak for offense to help spread the floor. It would depend on the opponent, but Copeland can play. As for Rasheed Wallace, he's still a question mark.
Fortunately for the Knicks, Stoudemire's injury only keeps him sidelined through the first week of the season. That could actually be a good measuring stick for the team to see what they're working with, and where Stoudemire could best fill in the cracks.
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