New York Knicks big man Amar'e Stoudemire took the next step towards returning to the court Saturday after being cleared for contact by team doctors, Newsday's Al Iannazzone reports. His status for the opening of the regular season remains uncertain with just a couple weeks to go.
Still recovering from the knee issues that plagued him throughout the past two seasons, Stoudemire will likely be limited for much of the season. That doesn't mean he's no longer useful, but his ongoing battle against that balky knee leaves New York with an extremely expensive question mark entering the season.
As Posting and Toasting notes, Stoudemire was seen doing halfcourt drills after receiving his medical clearance. How far along his progress is remains uncertain, but the lack of setbacks seems positive at this juncture.
When able to play last season, Stoudemire actually showed some pretty useful traits, particularly as he's stopped straying so far from the basket. In his last healthy season, STAT took just 33 percent of his shots at the rim, but that number was up to a staggering 61 percent in 2012-13.
For someone so efficient near the basket, that new approach made him highly efficient offensively in his limited minutes. Should he be able to replicate that over a bit more than 29 games, the Knicks could have a pretty potent scorer off the bench even if Amar'e can no longer handle the big minutes.