« Wade, Bosh happy to see Dolphins turning it around under Dan Campbell | Main | What do you think of the Heat's new 'Home Strong' and 'Legacy' uniforms? »

Heat taking 'big picture' approach when it comes to Amar'e Stoudemire's knees, playing time

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra hesitated for second Monday when he was asked if 14-year-veteran Amar'e Stoudemire was expected to play in Wednesday night's season opener against the Charlotte Hornets.

Odds are there's going to be a lot of that this season when it comes to Stoudemire.

"Yeah," Spoelstra responded when asked if Stoudemire's would play Wednesday. "But we're looking at this big picture also. We want to continue to build his leg strength, condition him and get him back at a healthy rate. Basically him and Josh [McRoberts] are going through the same thing. We just want to make sure they're strong and healthy all season."

Since having knee debridement surgery in both of his knees during the 2012-13 season, Stoudemire missed 19 games last season and 13 the year before that either due to injury or rest. The Knicks and Mavericks essentially had Stoudemire and his aging knees on maintenance programs.

The Heat plan to do the same. That's why Stoudemire has missed practiced the last couple days and why he figures to sit out from time-to-time.

"For the most part I'm just trying to stay on this recovery plan, make sure I'm healthy and ready to go at the start of the season," Stoudemire said last week before the Heat's final preseason home game against the Wizards.

"I can't restrain myself at all. It's the trainer's job to do that. I want to play and get out there as much as I possibly can. Those guys got more understanding on when not to get out there."

Whether or not Stoudemire plays in back-to-backs or during long stretches of the season he says will "all depend on [the opponent], minutes played the night before, and how I feel."

"There's so many intangibles that go with that," Stoudemire said. "We want guys healthy for that playoff push, for that postseason. That's when we want guys to be at their best and as strong as possible. We see the long haul. We see the longevity and we want to make sure we stay healthy for that.

"As long as [these breaks are] providing health [I'm fine with it]. That's the main key. That's the main thing for all these guys in their career. When you get to 30 and up it's all about maintenance. That's what we're trying to do."

Stoudemire proved last season he can still be an effective force on the offense end in the frontcourt when he's in there. He scored in double figures in 37 of the 59 games he played in including scoring 20 points or more three times.

"I feel solid," Stoudemire said. "Obviously at this point you're never 100 percent. But I feel good enough to play and that I can still be dominant in the time that I'm out there. It's a matter of trying to maintain that."

The Heat's second unit, led by the scoring of Gerald Green, looked pretty good most of the preseason. With Stoudemire's presence there are two solid scoring options.

"I think the most important factor is intelligence, not turning the ball over, playing good basketball, team basketball is always another important factor, being able to move the ball and get guys involved," Stoudemire said of what makes a good second unit. "Defensively, being able to contain the lead the first unit has built or regain the lead with the second unit. It's a lot to go into it with the second unit and it's important for us to play well."

> On the other side of the coin, McRoberts, coming off missing 65 games with a torn meniscus, said Monday he feels like his situation is different than Stoudemire's.

"I'm not really comparing myself to STAT," he said. "For me, I think it's just a day-by-day thing. Not to be a cliche answer. I think it truly is each day we kind of see where its at, see what the training staff has for me. But my plan is to be a part of everything.

"I think I turned the corner already. I think we're being cautious and trying to prepare for a long season. But I think I'm ready to go."




Powered by TypePad