Knicks coach Mike Woodson doesn’t know how long Amar’e Stoudemire will be out of action, but he’s going ahead and planning for life without him.
“Well, Amare’s a big piece of the puzzle, guys,” Woodson told reporters after practice Saturday. “Make no mistake about that. He brings offense, he brings rebounding, he brings a number of things to our ball club, so we’re going to miss him. But until he gets back, it gives other guys an opportunity to step up and play, and that’s what I’m going to be pushing guys to do.”
The Knicks originally said Oct. 21 that Stoudemire would miss 2-3 weeks with a knee injury, but it has since been reported that Stoudemire sought a second opinion with the Phoenix Suns doctors and could be out 4-5 weeks.
“Don’t know,” Woodson said. “They told me 2-3 weeks, but I don’t know at this point. We’ve just got to take it a day at a time and see where he is with his therapy work.”
Stoudemire has been working out at the Knicks facility, but did not make himself available to reporters.
Woodson said he wasn’t aware that Stoudemire had gotten a second opinion from Phoenix.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” Woodson said. “I don’t know a whole lot about it. I got wind of it this morning, but I’ve got to go talk to our medical staff and see what’s going on. But I can’t comment on that.”
Meanwhile, Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, took to Twitter to help defend his star client.
“To all of the Knicks fans sending me messages… Stat will be fine. He’s working w/ team trainers – will b back ASAP,” Walters Tweeted.
He added: “No 1 wants to b out there after working all summer on his game more than Stat, himself.”
In the meantime, Rasheed Wallace continues to make progress and could play a larger role in Stoudemire’s absence.
“Rasheed being back on the floor playing a little bit, I thought in the scrimmage he looked good playing on both teams,” Woodson said. “I was just trying to look at some different combinations with him and his conditioning was in better shape than I thought.
“He got up and down the floor, made some shots and from a defensive standpoint, he’s great because he communicates, and that can become contagious if guys listen a little bit and try to learn from him. But he was pretty good today.”
Asked if Wallace could potentially be ready to contribute for the season opener Nov. 1 at Brooklyn, Woodson hedged his bets.
“Don’t know yet,” he said. “Tomorrow’s going to be interesting to see how he feels. That’s going to be a big key because we ended up going three sessions.”
Tyson Chandler hopes to return to practice Monday from a bruised knee, but Marcus Camby (calf) and Stoudemire remain out.
Can the Knicks come up with enough offense without Stoudemire to get by in the early portion of the season?
“I think our team is a little bit deeper than what we had last year, so when guys get hurt, that’s why you try to put a team together for those reasons alone,” Woodson said.
“When a key guy goes down, other guys gotta step up, and I feel pretty good about the guys that are in uniform until Amare gets back. So it’s going to be my job as the coach to push the guys that do play in practice to play at a high level once they step out on that floor.”
The Knicks officially cut Oscar Bellfield, John Shurna, Henry Sims and Mychel Thompson, bringing their roster to 15.