Tuesday 22nd May 2018,
The Hoop Doctors

When Should Knicks Bring Amar’e Stoudemire Back?

The New York Knicks received some very good news on Monday night. Or bad news, depending upon which side of Carmelo Anthony’s fence you stand on.

According to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, Amar’e Stoudemire has been cleared for full-contact practice and could return for the Knicks as soon as Friday when they take on the Chicago Bulls:

Mike Woodson revealed on Monday that there is a possibility that Amar’e Stoudemire could be cleared to practice on Tuesday.

Stoudemire, who had knee surgery in October and has yet to make his regular season debut, could play as early as Friday against the Chicago Bulls if he resumes practicing with the team. Stoudemire has been working out on his own for weeks and appears to be fit.

On Monday, Woodson also said that Carmelo Anthony, who missed Saturday’s win over Cleveland with a sprained left ankle and sore left knee, is a game time decision for tonight’s game against the Houston Rockets. Also, Rasheed Wallace will miss his second straight game with a sore left foot.

Understandably, most remain concerned about how Stoudemire’s return will impact the Knicks superior chemistry. That said, if we’re completely honest here, his return would be nothing short of a blessing at this point.

As Isola reports, Anthony is still banged up. If New York’s beat down at the hands of the Houston Rockets taught us anything, it’s that the Knicks could use a consistent scorer behind ‘Melo to pick up the slack when he’s injured or on the pine. Whether this dictates Stoudemire come off the bench or be inserted back into the starting lineup is irrelevant. The fact is the Knicks need his offense.

Also, when you’re heavily depending upon the likes of an aging Kurt Thomas, inexperienced Chris Copeland and battered Rasheed Wallace, an extra scorer down low isn’t going to hurt.

But when should he come back? Obviously, the Knicks aren’t about to rush his return. Not only would they then risk losing him again, but they’re 18-6 without him right now. Yet let’s assume that his Christmas Day timetable holds accurate. Should New York really bring him back then?

Um, no.

If Stoudemire is ready, you don’t want to continue to sit him out, but you also don’t want to have him make his debut on the road, let alone on the other side of the country. You want to bring him back in an environment that will be welcoming, which in this case is Madison Square Garden.

Should the star forward be good to go for Friday’s game against the Bulls or even Sunday’s against the Minnesota Timberwolves, then the Knicks should certainly get him some burn. Otherwise, they’re best waiting until New Year’s Day to bring him back, when they return home from their three-game road trip.

Yes, I’m an advocate of bringing Stoudemire back as soon as physically possible. I actually believe he can help this team. But this decision can’t be about where to put him in the lineup or how much he stands to produce. It has to be about giving him the best possible opportunity to succeed and stay healthy. Bringing him back on the road isn’t the way to do that. Not the best way anyway.

And with Stoudemire as fragile as he is and the Knicks’ season outlook as promising as can be, every possible precaution must be taken to ensure the team doesn’t risk relinquishing its status as a powerhouse.

Even if it means holding Stoudemire out longer than advertised.

Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.

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