CLEVELAND — Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire, in his most extensive interview in weeks at Friday morning’s shootaround at Quicken Loans Arena, confirmed his bulging disk has been around since he suffered a back injury in the playoff series against the Celtics last April.
Stoudemire said the bulging disk was discovered then but was not considered a big issue. Nevertheless, it became more noticeable after an MRI exam in late summer, and the setback in his rehab forced him to enter training camp not in proper condition.
“It wasn’t as herniated [last April],’’ Stoudemire said. “I don’t think they saw it until later on that summer. That’s why I came to training camp not really ready to go. It took a while to get to here I was 100 percent and in top shape and had explosiveness back.’’
Marc Berman goes on to say:
This issue won’t go away, and eventually he will need surgery. Stoudemire blames the lockout on not getting proper rehab for his disk when he was unable to use the Knicks medical staff that treated him last April. From July 1 on, he was on his own. But Stoudemire said the epidural took the pain away in two days.
Well this explains a lot. All season everyone has been wondering what was wrong with Amar’e, and everyone suspected the back was more of an issue than he was letting on.
Whenever asked about it before, Amar’e would respond with “I feel great” or “I feel better than ever” even though it wasn’t showing on the court.
Obviously, with 3 years and $65 million remaining on his contract this is a concern. Back injuries have slowly ruined many NBA players careers, and with Amar’e it is that much more important as his explosiveness to the rim is what made him a superstar.
As Tommy has talked about before, Amar’e is going to have to hit that mid-range jumper to have success with Carmelo Anthony. Melo needs to be getting into the low post while Amar’e is in the high post shooting the face up jumper. If Amar’e can’t hit that jumper, spacing will be difficult.
The Knicks will need to address depth at the 4-5 positions this offseason as it is difficult to predict when a bad back will flare up during the season. Also if Amar’e does indeed need offseason back surgery, there is no guarantee he would be ready to start the season.