By AL IANNAZZONE firstname.lastname@example.org
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Amar'e Stoudemire went through his first full practice with the Knicks since mid-October. But he isn't sure if he will be playing with them on New Year's Day.
Stoudemire said Sunday that his surgically repaired left knee is getting better, but he said he's not even 80 percent and would like to feel close to 100 percent before he plays.
"It would be great if I could go on Jan. 1," he said. "I can't determine how I feel tomorrow or the following day. If the next two days go well and I continue to improve, then that will be a great day to start playing."
The Knicks remain a banged-up team. They hoped Carmelo Anthony and Rasheed Wallace could practice Sunday, but Anthony (hyperextended left knee) only shot around and Wallace (left foot) didn't participate. Tyson Chandler also sat with a sprained right ankle and Jason Kidd was given a recovery day.
Mike Woodson said Chandler and Kidd will play against the Trail Blazers Tuesday night but called Anthony and Wallace "day-to-day."
Stoudemire said his teammates' injuries make him want to return now, but he doesn't want to risk further injury. He had a left knee debridement -- the removal of dead tissue -- on Halloween and said he still feels some restrictions in the knee.
"We're still not where I want to be as of right now," he said.
When asked to elaborate, he said, "At least 100 percent or at least 80 percent, just to the point where I can feel comfortable on the basketball court with no restrictions, no limitations. I want to get to that point. I'm not quite there yet. I want to feel comfortable with all the movements on the basketball court."
Getting to that point before playing, he said, "would eliminate a lot of overcompensation and would prevent other injuries. So I want to make sure my body is in alignment with everything so I cannot have another injury."
But he also feels a sense of responsibility because of the current state of the team.
"If it's needed for me to sacrifice my body for the betterment of the team, then I will," he said. "But hopefully I'll continue to improve the next two days where I can feel 100 percent before I get back out there."
The Knicks and Stoudemire will be careful because they don't want any setbacks. They have gone 21-9 without him, so if he has to miss another couple of games, it won't hurt them. After Tuesday, the Knicks play the Spurs Thursday and are at Orlando Saturday. "I know he's chomping at the bit to get back, but again, we've got to be cautious," Woodson said.
Stoudemire is optimistic because he said he knows the knee is getting stronger. He said he felt less soreness in his knee Sunday than after his two practices with the Knicks' D-League team Dec. 18 and 20. He also said he believes it's possible to jump pretty close to 20 percent in the next two days.
"Yeah, yeah, it can," he said. "After a hard day like today, when you can feel much better tomorrow, that'd be a great sign of knowing that everything is on the improvement level. If I feel great tomorrow, then that'll be a phenomenal sign for me."
Notes & quotes: Iman Shumpert went through non-contact drills for the first time since having knee surgery in early May. The next step for him is to be cleared for contact.
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