Updated: Amar'e cleared to practice

Amar'e Stoudemire is inching closer to a return to the Knicks' lineup.

Stoudemire has been cleared to return to practice, Mike Woodson said on Monday.

The Knicks will not practice Tuesday, so the plan is for Stoudemire to practice at the team facility against the Erie BayHawks, the Knicks' D-League affiliate that's in town between games. Stoudemire, who hasn't played yet this season following surgery following a ruptured cyst in his left knee, is expected to practice again against the BayHawks on Thursday as well.

Woodson said he wants to see how Stoudemire feels the day after his first practice before he determines when Stoudemire will play in his first game, but the coach did not rule out the possibility that Stoudemire would return this weekend.

The Knicks play the Bulls at home on Friday and the Timberwolves at the Garden on Sunday.

"The practices have to go in his favor," Woodson said. "I don’t want (him) coming to me after tomorrow’s practice and him say, 'Coach I’m hurt and I’m sore.' Then we’ve got to evaluate it and still take it a day at a time.

"I’m not going to rush him back. He’s got to be ready. I’m waiting on him to tell me he’s ready to go."

The original timetable called for Stoudemire to miss 6-8 weeks following his Nov. 1 surgery.

He has gone through several strenuous workouts before recent Knicks games. The forward worked for about 45 minutes with Knicks assistant coach LaSalle Thompson on drills in the post before the Knicks-Cavs game on Saturday and worked out again before Monday's Rockets game.

Stoudemire's movements look fluid. It seems like he's gaining explosiveness in his surgically repaired left knee.

"I think he's moving in a positive way," Woodson said earlier Tuesday. "Everything is going according to plan."

Woodson has not addressed whether Stoudemire will start or come off the bench once he returns.