STAT to start? Don't hold your breath

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Don't expect to see Amar'e Stoudemire in the starting lineup anytime soon.

Mike Woodson made it clear in two separate interviews on Monday that he expects Stoudemire's role to remain the same, which means Stoudemire will continue to come off the bench.

The "Start STAT!" issue has come up in recent days because the Knicks' starting five has struggled for the past few weeks. So some media and fans have suggested that Woodson insert Stoudemire into the lineup.

Woodson recognizes that his starting lineup could use a spark. But he doesn't see Stoudemire as a solution to the problem.

"It's nice to start a game and jump on teams (early) ... but that hasn't been our M-O for the last month or so. Starting STAT, I'm not sure that is the answer," Woodson said Monday in an interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "The Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco Show." "I think he's very comfortable with where he is right now, I'm comfortable where he is in terms of coming off (the bench)."

Stoudemire has been coming off of the Knicks' bench since returning from offseason knee surgery on January 1.

And he's thrived in the role.

Stoudemire scored 22 points in 22 minutes in the Knicks' win over Philly on Sunday.

On the season, he's averaging 13.7 points and five rebounds in 22.8 minutes. He's also shooting 57 percent from the floor.

That he's done so while coming off of the bench has been a big storyline surrounding the team for several reasons. Here are two: Stoudemire had been a starter for his first ten years in the NBA and he's in the third year of a $100 million contract.

To his credit, Stoudemire has willingly accepted his role. He's said again and again that he's willing to do whatever it takes to help the Knicks win. And he's fine with coming off the bench and even sitting at the end of games -- as long as the Knicks win.

"(If) we keep winning then we're good. When we start losing a little bit then you start thinking about it," Stoudemire said on Sunday night when asked about sitting for the final 8:36 of the Knicks' win over Philadelphia. "But we won the game and we played well down the stretch."

Woodson said on Monday that he would have played Stoudemire late in the fourth quarter against Philly, but he was concerned that Stoudemire would foul out of the game. Stoudemire had five fouls and Woodson said he was worried that the Knicks would need him if the game went into overtime.

He is also playing on a limit of 30 minutes per game, something Woodson said would continue for the foreseeable future, possibly even for the rest of the season.

When it was brought to Woodson's attention that Stoudemire suggested he'd "think about" how he was being used if the Knicks were losing games, Woodson said with a grin, "He's got to come talk to me about that. At the end of the day, we are winning, we're still sitting at the top of our division where we want to be."

Asked if he considered inserting Stoudemire into the starting five during the Knicks' losing streak, Woodson said, "No, that was not a concern. Again, that's (the media's) concern. I've had the same starting lineup the last, I think, 13, 14, 15 games. And it's probably going to continue to stay that way unless I go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow and change it."

KENYON MAY PLAY: Kenyon Martin went through some half-court sets with his teammates and Woodson said the 35-year-old forward may make his Knicks debut on Wednesday against Golden State. ... Woodson said Rasheed Wallace "didn't do a whole lot" in practice on Monday. He is listed as day-to-day and has been out since Dec. 13 with a stress reaction in his left foot. ... Woodson credited Carmelo Anthony for being aggressive and attacking the rim on Sunday. Anthony shot 18 free throws against Philly. ... Woodson also wants Jason Kidd, mired in a 4-for-21 shooting slump, to keep shooting the ball.

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