GREENBURGH, NY -- Mike Woodson hasn't announced whether Amar'e Stoudemire will start or come off the bench when he returns to the Knicks lineup.
But Woodson's confident that Stoudemire will have no problem adjusting to whichever role he's used in once he's back on the floor.
"Amare's a player and he's been a player for many many years, and a damn good player, in this league. So however I decide to do it, he'll adjust because of the fact that he is a talented player," Woodson said in an interview Friday on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco." "It's my job to put him in the position to be successful."
Stoudemire underwent a debridement on his left knee on Oct. 31 and has not played with the Knicks this season. He returned to practice earlier this week and, provided there are no set-backs with his rehabilitation, he's expected return shortly, possibly at some point during the Knicks' three-game road trip from December 25-28.
The Knicks (19-6) have established tremendous chemistry in Stoudemire's absence so some have expressed concern that Stoudemire's return will have a negative impact on the team.
One oft-cited reason is the struggles of Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony to develop cohesion on offense. The Knicks are 30-33 in the regular season when both are in the starting lineup.
That's why some believe Stoudemire would be best suited to come off of the bench for the Knicks. A bench role would allow Anthony to remain at power forward and give Stoudemire the opportunity to be the primary screener on the pick and roll, a role occupied among the starting group by Tyson Chandler.
Stoudemire has said that he'd accept any role Woodson asks of him. "Whatever it takes to win," he said on Tuesday.
Woodson says he won't talk about Stoudemire's role with the team -- whether he starts or comes off of the bench -- until Stoudemire confirms that he is ready to return to the floor.
But the coach is confident that he can put Stoudemire in a position to succeed.
"I know a lot of you guys are concerned about when Amar'e [comes back]," Woodson told Smith. "I'm not because he's a ball player that's been very productive in this league for many years. He's an all star. And he's done it at a high level. He's played in big games. Regardless of how I set the table in terms of where he goes when he steps back out on the floor, it's going to be in a good position for Amar'e. I promise you that."
Stoudemire, coming off one of the poorest seasons of his career (17.5 ppg, 48% shooting), went through shoot around with his teammates on Friday morning but was not available to reporters. He said, after practicing with the Knicks' D League team on Thursday, he's not quite 100% and still feels lingering discomfort in his knee.
According to a report in the New York Times on Friday, the Knicks tried unsuccessfully to trade Stoudemire over the summer and at several points during the 2011-12 season.
Woodson referred to the report as media speculation and reiterated that he's confident that Stoudemire can fit in with what the Knicks have established through the season's first 25 games.
"Amar'e is a big piece of the New York Knicks and that's why he's still here," the coach said. "We're just trying to figure out after he's healthy [how] to get him back in the flow and swing of things. That's all I'm concerned about."
ALL-STAR WISHES: Woodson clearly wants Tyson Chandler to make the All-Star team this season. "When that thing comes out, I'll be very dissapointed if he's not on that all star team."
NOVAK BACK: Steve Novak will play on Friday against the Chicago Bulls after missing Wednesday's game due to flu-like symptoms. Marcus Camby (plantar fascia) shot with his teammates for the first time since going out with the injury on Dec. 2. He will not play against Chicago. He has missed 11 straight games. Rasheed Wallace will miss his fourth straight game due to a left foot injury.