This has been reported in a few places though Mark Hale of the Post was the first I spotted it, but Mike Woodson said today that he would be limiting Amar’e Stoudemire’s minutes going forward after stretching him to 28 minutes — including serious time down the stretch — in the loss to the Celtics.
“I just got word that I needed to back off because I shouldn’t have done that,” Woodson said. “His minutes will still be on a restriction. Probably around the 20 mark range. Somewhere in that area there. No more than 22-23 minutes.”
Woodson added, “No setback but he was probably a little sore. That’s the reason for it.”
I don’t think it’s fair to say Stoudemire’s return has been a negative, but it definitely is a bit tricky for Woodson. He’s got to not only juggle his minutes in a way that allows him to slowly work his way back to full strength, but also find out which lineups work best with Amar’e in them, while ensuring he’s not doing anything that keeps the team from, you know, winning.
It’s been noted several places that it seemed a little odd that Amar’e saw so much crunch-time run against Boston, but I suspect Woody thought he was playing reasonably well and wanted to see how he held up during some high intensity minutes against a good team.
The answer, unfortunately, was not that great.
Stoudemire’s had his moments, and it’s only fair to show the poor guy some modicum of patience — right, I mean, at least a little — as he works his way back into the mix, but he’s still looked a step slow and unsure the bulk of the time. The hope is he keeps progressing, looking a little more explosive each time out, but more and more it is hard not to worry that this is a player headed for a steep, injury-aided decline and it’s getting harder to remember that elite player that had us all so excited only a year and some change ago.