BY Frank Isola
Amar'e Stoudemire is seeking a second opinion to determine the severity of the left knee injury that could keep the Knicks power forward sidelined for the first month of the NBA regular season.
Stoudemire is consulting with Phoenix Suns orthopedic surgeon Dr. Thomas Carter, according to a Suns source. Dr. Carter performed microfracture surgery on Stoudemire's left knee in 2005. It is customary, and in some cases encouraged by teams, that players get a second opinion from an independent physician.
The Knicks team doctors discovered that Stoudemire suffered a ruptured cyst on his left knee during last week's exhibition game against the Toronto Raptors. The timetable given by the Knicks for Stoudemire's return is two to four weeks but the same source says a more plausible timetable is four to five weeks.
Under that scenario, the Knicks will be without their second leading scorer for most of November when they'll play 15 games in the month, including nine on the road.
It is unclear if head coach Mike Woodson will start Carmelo Anthony at power forward or go with a more traditional lineup by starting Kurt Thomas. Of course, Woodson isn't absolutely certain that veteran center Tyson Chandler will be available for Thursday's season opener against the Nets in Brooklyn.
Chandler told reporters on Friday that he "absolutely” plans to play after an MRI of his injured left knee showed only a bone bruise. Chandler originally feared that he suffered ligament damage after bumping knees with the Nets Gerald Wallace in Wednesday's preseason finale on Long Island.
"I never had anything like that before, didn't know what to expect, didn't know what it felt like," Chandler said. "It's a weird, awkward feeling, the night before not sleeping until you get the MRI. That was the best thing I could've heard that everything was intact."
Chandler left the arena on Wednesday on crutches but stop using them after complaining that they were causing him back pain.
"I'm doing good, good news all the way around, looking forward to being back on the floor with my teammates," said Chandler, who was held out of Friday's practice in Greenburgh, N.Y. "I'm hoping I can get back on the floor Monday. I just got to take it easy the next couple of days, let it come down a little bit.”
Chandler's back-up, Marcus Camby, also missed another practice as he recovers from a calf injury and his status for next week is uncertain. Injuries, or the threat of injuries, were a risk the Knicks were taking when they decided to upgrade their roster with older players. The team's two oldest players, 40-year-old Thomas and 39-year-old Jason Kidd, have both held up during the preseason but neither is expected to play major minutes. Rasheed Wallace, 37, who is attempting to make a comeback after sitting out two years, is practicing he did not play in any of the exhibition games.
Stoudemire turns 30 on Nov. 16 and although he has a chiseled physique and his fitness is exemplary he continues to break down. Prior to last season, Stoudemire did play in 82 games with the Suns and 78 in his first year with the Knicks. Last year, he missed 19 of the Knicks 66 games, including 15 due to injury.
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