Iman Shumpert cleared for debut

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert could make his season debut on Thursday against the Detroit Pistons in London.

"He's been cleared," coach Mike Woodson said after Saturday's practice at the team's training facility. "He'll practice on Monday and if we get the two practices in -- for sure one in London and there's no setback -- he'll be cleared probably to play in the Detroit game."

Shumpert is returning from a left ACL and meniscus tear suffered last April in the playoffs. Initially, the Knicks were looking to have the sophomore practice with the Knicks' D-League team, the Erie BayHawks, but Woodson said the schedule won't permit that. Instead, Shumpert will practice with the Knicks and "have to learn on the fly," as the coach said.

When Shumpert does play, Woodson said he will be capped to "limited minutes medical-wise."

Shumpert just can't wait to get back on the court.

"I'm excited," he said. "(Woodson) is being optimistic. I've just got to make sure that I go through practice hard and make sure that I'm comfortable with all the coverages, and make sure I got the plays down and everything. That's the biggest part with me being comfortable and me being in rhythm."

As for how he was feeling after practice today, Shumpert said, "Physically, I feel great."

Shumpert's return marks the first big step in the Knicks' backcourt recovery, especially to pick up their slipping perimeter defense, and lack of penetration and ball movement offensively in recent games. Starting point guard Raymond Felton, who's been out with a fractured right pinkie, is targeting Jan. 24 against the Boston Celtics or Jan. 26 against the Philadelphia 76ers to resume play.

"We've been looking forward to getting our whole team back for a while now, so we're starting to see light at the end of the tunnel," Carmelo Anthony said. "With Shump coming back, Raymond maybe a week and a half, two weeks away or something like that. So we're looking forward to those guys coming back. We need bodies at this point."