- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
"All he cares about right now is helping the team and winning," said one source, who has been around Stoudemire regularly in recent weeks. "He'd be fine with coming off the bench if that's what they want."
Stoudemire hasn't spoken with reporters since suffering a left knee injury in the preseason. He's been rehabilitating his knee following arthroscopic surgery for the past four weeks and is expected to miss at least another two weeks.
There has been speculation about what role Stoudemire will play once he returns.
Many believe Stoudemire would be a better fit coming off the bench for coach Mike Woodson's team. Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony have had a tough time developing cohesion on offense -- the Knicks have a losing record while the two stars are in the same starting lineup.
Both Anthony and Stoudemire are effective operating in isolation around the elbow, which is just one reason why they haven't had success while sharing the floor together.
Additionally, Stoudemire and Knicks starting center Tyson Chandler are seen by some as a bad match when paired together.
Chandler is the Knicks' primary screener on the pick-and-roll, a role Stoudemire has thrived throughout his career.
Woodson has been evasive when asked about Stoudemire's role once he returns. Woodson has said in the past his players wouldn't lose their starting roles because of injury. But Woodson also hasn't committed to re-inserting Stoudemire into the starting lineup.
"I'm going to address that when we get to that point," Woodson said last week. "Right now, I'm just taking it a day at a time and work the guys we have in uniform."
A source close to Stoudemire who has visited with the veteran power forward recently said Stoudemire wants to help the Knicks, who were 9-4 entering play Wednesday, and doesn't want to affect any chemistry the team has established.
"He just wants to win," the source says. "He sees how well they're playing and just wants to help. He'll be fine with whatever they want to do."
Woodson may choose to bring Stoudemire off the bench initially to help him work his way back into game shape. One league source says the Knicks are hesitant to take Jason Kidd out of the starting lineup to make room for Stoudemire.
Stoudemire, a 10-year veteran, is coming off a down year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game -- the lowest full-season totals since his rookie season.
He worked diligently over the summer to regain his form, spending time with Hakeem Olajuwon to incorporate post moves into his offensive repertoire. Stoudemire was confident in the preseason he could bounce back this season. But he suffered a knee injury that originally was thought to be a bone bruise, but later diagnosed as a ruptured cyst in his left knee.
Stoudemire's left knee has been an issue in the past. He underwent microfracture surgery in October 2005, but bounced back well from the procedure.
One NBA team doctor told ESPNNewYork.com that Stoudemire was the best example of a player regaining his form after microfracture surgery.
Still, the procedure can be a red flag for teams. Stoudemire's contract with the Knicks -- five years, $100 million -- is uninsured because of his history of knee issues.
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
5dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann