STAT's status in Knicks' rotation

If Amar'e Stoudemire returns to the Knicks in the playoffs, he will be a part of the team's regular rotation, Mike Woodson said on Sunday.

"If he’s able to make it back he will be back in the rotation, ready to play," Woodson said on a conference call with reporters. "I’m expecting him to do what he was doing before he left because he played some pretty good, positive minutes for our ball club before he got hurt."

Woodson expects Stoudemire to return at some point during the postseason but said last week that his "gut" feeling is that Stoudemire will miss the Knicks' first-round series with the Celtics.

The veteran power forward underwent surgery March 11 to clean up debris in his right knee. He last played on March 7.

At the time of his surgery, the Knicks said Stoudemire was expected to miss four to six weeks.

Last week, Stoudemire stopped short of ruling himself out of the Knicks-Celtics series but did not put a specific timetable on his return.

"I'm doing everything I can to get back out there and be extremely strong and healthy so, hopefully, I'll be out there soon," Stoudemire said on Thursday at the premier of his documentary, "Amar'e Stoudemire: In The Moment."

The Knicks have thrived with Stoudemire out, finishing the regular season 17-6 in their last 23 games and winning the Atlantic Division title for the first time in 19 years. So there is a concern among some that Stoudemire's return could impact the team's chemistry.

Kenyon Martin has emerged as a key contributor in Stoudemire's absence. It's unclear if Stoudemire's return would impact Martin's minutes.

It's likely that Stoudemire would usurp minutes given to Chris Copeland and, possibly, Steve Novak.

"Amar'e is going to always be a big piece of our team, that's without a doubt," Woodson said. "He’s progressing right along. When he’s going to play, I don’t know at this point.

"(A healthy Stoudemire) just adds one more good piece, great piece, to the puzzle back out on the floor as we continue this journey," Woodson added.

Stoudemire missed the first two months of the season after undergoing surgery to clean debris from his left knee.

In 29 games, Stoudemire averaged 14.2 points and five rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game. He made 57 percent of his field goals.

QUESTION: How should Woodson use Stoudemire if/when he returns to the floor? Are you concerned that the Knicks' chemistry will be impacted by Stoudemire?

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