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STOUDEMIRE HAS TO PROVE HE’S HEALTHY FOR NEXT SEASON
Fri, 24 May 2013 02:30 AM EDT

Amare Stoudemire will go into next season with $45 million left on his contract and no guarantee of a starting job.

He also could remain a reserve who plays restricted minutes.

Searching for ways to improve next season, the NY Knicks could use a reliable second scorer and dependable low-post option. They have no way of knowing if Stoudemire can provide either due to his knees.

”He’s a heck of a player and I think we all know that. The question is his health and how much he will be able to play,” GM Glen Grunwald said. ”So we’ve got our medical team and coaching staff working with him to design an offseason program which will make him full health, and we are hoping he’ll be able to play significant minutes for us next year. How much that’ll be, we don’t know at this time.”

Stoudemire was limited to just 29 games in the regular season and 4 brief appearances in the postseason due to a pair of knee surgeries.

Following a 54-28 finish and their first playoff series victory since 2000, improvement won’t be simple for the Knicks. Their options will be limited by salary cap rules, and it’s uncertain if they even want to make many changes. Grunwald agreed with players the best strategy might be giving this season’s roster more time together.

”Our focus is to continue to build this core team,” Grunwald said in a rare meeting with reporters. ”I think some continuity, some familiarization, further growth as individual and as a team; I suspect that’s what we have to do.”

That could mean re-signing sixth man J.R. Smith if he becomes a free agent, though Grunwald wouldn’t comment on specific plans. He also said 40-year-old Jason Kidd, who has two years left on his deal, gave no indication during his exit meeting that he planned to retire after a dismal postseason.

Grunwald declared the Knicks will not be allowed to get players in sign-and-trade deals and have only the exception for taxpaying teams, starting at about $3.2 million next season. They won’t get much top talent for that, but they would if Stoudemire could come back and play at anywhere near his former All-Star level. NFL lines

He should show the Knicks he will be healthy before showing them he merits to start again.

”I haven’t made that decision. I should have the summer to kind of evaluate where I go with that, but I think most important things first, he has got to come back healthy,” Coach Mike Woodson said. ”I mean, that’s the most significant part of this. Our struggles in terms of where we wanted to go this season was the fact that we had the injury with STAT. STAT was ready I thought when he came in, but he was injured.

”A lot is going to depend on where he’s after he steps foot in vet camp in terms of where he is health-wise and minute limitations, that may be the case. All of that is going to play a big part in STAT in terms of where we go with our ballclub and him playing, because I just don’t know at this point.”


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