GREENBURGH, N.Y. — After missing the first two preseason games of the season with a bruised left knee, Amar’e Stoudemire returned to practice Monday and said he’ll be ready to go for Friday’s exhibition against Toronto in Montreal.
“I’ve been out of practice for the past four or five days,” he said Monday at the Knicks Westchester campus. “It takes a few days to get back in top shape but I’ll be ready to go.”
Stoudemire banged knees with Chris Copeland last Wednesday and missed games Thursday in Washington and Saturday against the Celtics in Hartford. Both were wins.
Shooting guard J.R. Smith also returned to practice after missing the team’s 98-95 OT win over the Celtics with a sore ankle.
“It’s good to have both of those guys back,” head coach Mike Woodson said. “I thought they looked OK. A little rusty in terms of their wind, running up and down, but that will come.”
Woodson said he expects to have Stoudemire back for Friday’s game.
“It’s very important, not just [for] the offense,” he said. “It’s important defensively, too, in terms of knowing rotations and knowing where to be. It’s both sides of the ball.”
Stoudemire said he incorporated some of the offensive moves he learned this summer while working with Hakeem Olajuwon.
“I was able to work on a few move down there just to kind of get a feel back,” he said.
“My legs are a littel bit heavy today. I was trying to find my wind today but it was great to be back out there.”
Stoudemire reiterated that getting acclimated defensively was also key.
“Being back out there with the guys and being able to go with certain coverages feel great,” he said. “And the more I do it, the more comfortable we’ll be at it.”
Steve Novak took a recovery day after playing nearly 38 minutes in the Celtics game.
“He deserved a day off,” Woodson said.
Rasheed Wallace continued to do his own workouts on the side and did not practice fullcourt with the team.
“Rasheed’s doing fine,” Woodson said. “He’s starting to pick it up a little bit more in terms of getting up and down the floor with his conditioning work and it’s just a matter of time before we get him back.”
Celtics coach Doc Rivers told the New York Post Saturday he isn’t shocked Wallace has dealt with conditioning issues.
“I thought his issue wasn’t that he should retire,’’ Rivers said. “His issue was that he needed to get in better condition. Even with us, he needed to get in better condition. He’s too skilled. I don’t know now he’s been out two years, but I thought he was too skilled to retire at the point he retired.”
Woodson said there was no update on Marcus Camby (left calf) and Ronnie Brewer (left meniscus). “I think Ronnie’s getting close, that’s all I can tell you,” Woodson said.…Patrick Ewing was on hand being interviewed by NBA.com…Knicks GM Glen Grunwald also spoke to NBA.com.