This weekend, the Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire was cleared for contact drills. Perhaps full-court scrimmaging will be next, as the big man's hope is be ready to go by the team's season opener.
Such a progression is positive, regardless of how close or how far Stoudemire truly is to returning. The fact that he's moving forward without a setback is a positive.
That said, it appears as though fans and the media alike are making a much bigger deal out of it than it truly is. At this point, why worry about what Stoudemire can or will bring to the table at all?
The fact of the matter is, he'll be limited like never before. He said as much when faced with such questions at media day, and has continued to assert more of the same as training camp has continued. Ultimately, it's up to the doctors and the Knicks' training staff.
Anything New York receives from Stoudemire will be a (very largely welcomed) bonus. Everyone else simply needs to start believing that, by not expecting too much instead.
Coach Mike Woodson has said all the right things and is handling the STAT situation perfectly, however. While the big man's contract may weigh heavily on the Knicks' payroll, that same pressure doesn't appear to be on the coaching staff to force things, rush Stoudemire, and milk him for everything he's got, simply so they're able to point towards immediate "success."
If New York plans ahead as though they don't expect much out of Stoudemire, anything he does in fact go on to provide will be a tremendous pro. If they were to put more pressure on him early on, his impact will be considered a con, should he fall short of any set mark.
The Knicks have a very nice looking roster, even excluding Stoudemire. Things are a bit different now, but last season, the team proved they could play well without him. Hopefully they'll continue to focus on doing so this year as well. If they're able to do that, STAT's eventual positive contributions will hit opposing teams that much harder, when and if it finally arrives.
In the meantime, New York has much more to worry about than seeing the big man hit the hardwood sooner than later. Taking care of the business at hand, figuring out the proper lineups, etc. should weigh heavier on everyone's minds.