Thursday, March 29, 2012

Amare Stoudemire out 2-4 weeks


source: Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire will undergo non-surgical treatment and rehabilitation for the bulging disk in his lower back and is expected to be out approximately two to four weeks, the team said Wednesday.

The Knicks also will be without point guard Jeremy Lin for Wednesday night's game against the Orlando Magic. Lin has missed two games because of a sore left knee. Interim coach Mike Woodson is not sure if Lin will return for Friday's game against Atlanta.

"He's just going through the treatment process and he could be day to day. How long that is I have no idea," Woodson said after Wednesday morning's shootaround.

Woodson hopes to get Stoudemire back as soon as possible.

"He's a big piece of this puzzle," the coach said. "But I want him to be healthy when he comes back and not [to] come back trying to play hurt. That's the most important thing."

Stoudemire's treatment will include an epidural, an attempt to lessen the pain associated with the bulging disk. For now, he will eschew surgery, which would have sidelined him for the rest of the season.

If he returns in two weeks, Stoudemire will be back for the final nine games of the regular season. If his rehab lasts four weeks, he will return for Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs, should the Knicks get there.


The Knicks currently are two games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Both Stoudemire and Lin originally suffered injuries in the second half of Saturday's win over the Detroit Pistons.

Forward Carmelo Anthony (strained right groin) is questionable for Wednesday's game, though he has said he will play.

"I still feel it a little bit [but] I'll be out there tonight," Anthony said.

Anthony tweaked his groin in the third quarter on Monday night.

He also suffered a strained right groin Feb. 6 and missed seven games but noted his current injury is less severe than his previous groin ailment. Though Anthony said that if Wednesday's game were in January instead of April, he'd "probably" sit out.

Guard J.R. Smith is probable despite an illness.

Baron Davis will replace Lin at point guard against the Magic. Davis had an uneven performance in place of Lin during Monday's win over Milwaukee, scoring 13 points on 3-of-12 shooting with seven assists and nine turnovers in 34 minutes.

Davis missed two games earlier this month with a strained right hamstring and sat out the first seven weeks of the season with a herniated disk in his back.

Because of the missed time due to injuries, Woodson said Davis is not ready to play more than 30 minutes on Wednesday. He expects to use backup guards Mike Bibby and Toney Douglas to spell Davis against Orlando.

"It's hard to try to play three point guards but I've got to try to figure that out as a coach as we go along," Woodson said.

Woodson will use Steve Novak and Josh Harrellson more with Stoudemire out. Jared Jeffries, a reserve forward, would be another candidate to replace Stoudmemire, but he is out for at least another week with a knee ailment.

Stoudemire has had back issues in the past.

The 29-year-old pulled a muscle in his back during the 2011 playoffs. He needed most of the NBA's five-month lockout to rehab the injury, playing in a 5-on-5 game just once during the lockout. He struggled early in the shortened 66-game season, but Stoudemire appeared to be getting his rhythm back recently, averaging 18 points per game on 57 percent shooting in his past five games.

ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell said that back disk injuries such as Stoudemire's can lead to numbness and weakness in the lower body, if the disk compromises a nerve. It is unclear if Stoudemire is experiencing such numbness.

Bell, a licensed physical therapist, said that generally, a disk injury can be treated non-surgically with ice, rest and anti-inflammation medications.

Wellington Hsu, a spine specialist and assistant professor at Northwestern, said surgery would be a "last-resort" option if non-surgical rehabilitation was ineffective.

If Stoudemire underwent surgery, Hsu said he may have to wait 10 to 12 weeks before he started training.

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.