NEW YORK — The Knicks chances for a deep run in the Eastern Conference playoffs appear to have just taken a major hit.
The Knicks announced Saturday that Amar’e Stoudemire will undergo right knee debridement this week and is expected to miss six weeks.
The NBA playoffs begin exactly six weeks from today (Saturday), April 20.
The Knicks (37-22) are currently the No. 3 seed in the East but are in danger of falling below that without Stoudemire for the rest of the regular season.
Their schedule is already tough, with 13 of the final 23 games on the road, including an upcoming brutal five-game road swing beginning Monday night at Golden State.
Stoudemire, whom the Knicks signed to a five-year, $100-million deal in the summer of 2010, recently played a stretch of four games in five nights and was on a minutes-limit of 30 per game.
He already missed the first 30 games of this season after undergoing offseason surgery on his left knee and then returned to the court Jan. 1, averaging 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds as a strong presence off the bench.
“I feel for Amar’e because he’s put a lot of work in this summer to get back out on the court and what he went through at the beginning of camp and now he’s gotta go back in again,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said before the Knicks-Jazz game at MSG.
“I feel for the young man because he’s put so much time and hard work in. But we gotta go on.”
Added Woodson: “It’s a major loss to what we’re trying to do, but we’re going to have to wait on him and continue our climb. We can’t sit and sulk and feel upset about it. Guys have gotta step up play.”
Without Stoudemire, the Knicks will have to rely more on Kurt Thomas (40), Marcus Camby (38) and Kenyon Martin (35) to play more frontcourt minutes. The Knicks are already without Rasheed Wallace (fractured foot), and he is a longshot to return healthy for the postseason.
“We gotta mix and match from a lineup standpoint and see what happens,” Woodson said
Carmelo Anthony will also miss his third straight game with a stiff/sore knee and Woodson called him “day-to-day” going forward. The Knicks are 4-5 without Anthony this season.
“You play basketball,” Chandler said before the Stoudemire news was announced. “This is the New York Knicks. It ain’t about Melo, it’s not about Amar’e, it’s not about Tyson Chandler. It ain’t about any other individual. It’s a team. It’s not tennis or golf or anything else that’s an individual sport.”