The Knicks could find out the fate of star forward Amar'e Stoudemire on Tuesday after the team announced that he was out indefinitely with a bulging disk in his lower back.
CBS Sports' Ken Berger reported that the Knicks should find out soon whether Stoudemire will undergo season-ending back surgery or whether he could possibly return after a few cortisone shots in his back.
With only 16 games remaining in the shortened NBA season Stoudemire's injury comes at a critical time, but doesn't spell doom for the Knicks. For the majority of the season Stoudemire was unable to effectively coexist on the court with Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler. He had difficulties getting proper space under former coach Mike D'Antoni's offense and was often relegated to shooting 18-foot jumpers.
Stoudemire has stepped up his game a bit under new coach Mike Woodson, but still isn't the most integral part to the Knicks' potential success. He's averaged 16.8 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game since D'Antoni's dismissal, but those numbers should be able made up by the Knicks' deep bench.
You don't wish that on any player, especially Amar'e who's a big part of what we do, Woodson said. All we can do is hope it's not as serious as it may be and that he has a speedy recovery. If he has to have surgery, he's got to rehab and come back. He's still a young player. He's got a lot of games left in him.
Jared Jeffries, Josh Harrellson, and Steve Novak will all be expected to carry a bigger load, but the biggest load will be placed on Anthony's strong shoulders. Anthony, who went off for 28 points in an 89-80 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, will be expected to score at a high level for the Knicks to even make the playoffs. H
We all gotta step up, Chandler told reporters on Monday. I've been saying all year that our team is very deep, so it's an opportunity for somebody to step up and he has to take advantage of it.
The Knicks are currently in the eighth seed for the Eastern Conference, but have a brutal schedule ahead. In the team's next seven games, the Knicks play the Orlando Magic twice, the Chicago Bulls twice, the Atlanta Hawks, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Indiana Pacers. Out of those teams only the Cavaliers aren't a playoff team, but even they are still in the hunt.
It will take a serious effort from the Knicks to come out of that brutal stretch with a winning record, but it's imperative with the Bucks right on their tail for the last playoff spot. Anthony will need to put up some serious points, but his supporting cast -- Landry Fields, JR Smith, Iman Shumpert -- must also step up their play in a major way.
[Carmelo] is going to have to do his part, knowing that other teams will probably try to double and take the ball out of his hands, Woodson said. I feel comfortable with other guys making shots. Tonight we just didn't make them. He reached down and did what he had to do to get the job done.
The Knicks are a worse team without Stoudemire, but their dreams of competing in the playoffs aren't doomed even if he is out for the season. Since Anthony arrived in New York at mid-year last season, this team's potential was always dictated by how far he could take them and that hasn't changed today.