By Ben Golliver
The trickle of pessimistic news regarding Amar'e Stoudemire's health continues.
Last week, reports indicated that the New York Knicks forward would get a second opinion on his surgically-repaired knee, and could miss up to the first month of the season due to a Baker's cyst. The Knicks originally stated the week before that Stoudemire would be sidelined for two-to-three weeks.
On Monday, ESPN.com reported Monday that Stoudemire could actually miss the first six weeks of the season, placing his tentative return date in mid-December, causing him to potentially miss New York's first 21 games.
An ESPNNY.com report Monday pushed that to "six-to-eight weeks." An eight-week absence would cause Stoudemire to miss 27 games.
Coach Mike Woodson’s options for replacing Stoudemire are limited. He can shift Carmelo Anthony from his preferred starting small forward position into the power forward role, clearing minutes for Steve Novak at the three, or he can use 40-year-old reserve power forward Kurt Thomas a starter. In light of Stoudemire’s absence and New York’s age and injury concerns, the Knicks opted to keep 6-foot-8 reserve forward Chris Copeland on their 15-man roster.
According to the Mayo Clinic, popliteal cysts, also known as Baker’s cysts, are marked by an excess of fluid build-up in the back of the knee which can cause pain, swelling or tightness. They can be caused by arthritis or cartilage damage, among other knee joint problems.
Stoudemire underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee in October 2005, a procedure that forced him to miss virtually all of the 2005-06 season. Nevertheless, he came back to play all 82 games in 2006-07 and eventually played well enough for the Phoenix Suns that the Knicks gave him a five-year, $100 million contract during the summer of 2010. Stoudemire is on the books this season for $19.9 million and will be paid $22.4 million in 2013-14 and $24.4 million in 2014-15. Stoudemire, 29, appeared in just one preseason game, scoring 18 points and grabbing five rebounds in 27 minutes against the Toronto Raptors on Friday. The Knicks have cited his left knee in explaining his preseason absences. He averaged 17.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists last season.