For just the second time this season, the Knicks entered a weekend without games, which put a smile on Mike Woodson’s face for a variety of reasons. The head coach has been desperately searching for quality practice time and his squad needed rest and recovery considering the significant amount of injuries to key players on the roster.
On Sunday afternoon, Carmelo Anthony did not participate in the practice session due to a hyper extended knee that has kept him sidelined for two consecutive games.
“He didn’t have any contact or conditioning work up and down yet, so again, he’s day-to-day and we’ll take it a day at a time,” Woodson confirmed.
Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd were also absent from Sunday’s practice. Chandler is out with a sprained ankle but is expected to play on Tuesday night against the Blazers. Kidd received a recovery day after he played substantial minutes on the road trip while the team shuffled the roster due to Raymond Felton’s fractured pinky finger that will keep him out for 4-6 weeks.
Iman Shumpert started conditioning work with the team and his workout was limited, meaning no contact during the drills. Woodson was pleased to view his second-year guard back in action and said, “He had a nice pop to his step, which was nice to see.”
Sunday's main storyline was the return of Amar’e Stoudemire to an official practice. Stoudemire has not practiced with New York after undergoing a surgery to repair a popliteal cyst in his knee prior to the start of the 2012-13 season.
“I felt better today than I did yesterday,” Stoudemire explained. “So, hopefully I get a good reaction out of it tonight and tomorrow, see how it feels tomorrow. It’s all predicated on how I feel the following day after a long, hard day as today went.”
The Knicks big man told reporters this specific practice was the most work he has seen since participating in a scrimmage with the D-League affiliate, Erie Bayhawks over a week ago. The question most fans want answered is the availability of Stoudemire for Tuesday’s contest at Madison Square Garden.
“It would be great if I could go January 1st but again, I can’t determine how I feel tomorrow or the following day. If the next two days go well and I can continue to improve then that will be a great day to start back playing,” Stoudemire stated.
The biggest challenge for the former All-Star is conditioning at this point and Monday’s practice might reveal his immediate future.
Right now, it’s just getting my legs back under me, wanting to have my explosiveness back and I’m not quite there yet,” Stoudemire added. “But again, we are pretty banged up as a team, so we need bodies on the court, so if I have to sacrifice my health a little bit for the betterment of the team I will.”
New York will practice again on Monday afternoon in preparation for a New Year ’s Day game against Portland at 7:30 PM.