Amar'e Stoudemire will practice this week with the Knicks' D-League team, Woodson says.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) December 17, 2012
With the Knicks' limited practice time, Woodson says Stoudemire's best chance of getting reps is with the D-League squad.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) December 17, 2012
|Greatest player in D-League history. (Getty Images)|
It's not a demotion of any sorts. With the Knicks not having a lot of chances to practice this week (over the next 10 days, they play five games, including a west coast trip starting on Christmas day) and Stoudemire not really being close enough to returning to game action, the Knicks are taking advantage of the D-League opportunity to get some regular work for Amar'e.
And this is really how you want a team to utilize the D-League going forward. If a player is just a little banged up and needs to get a practice or two before they're ready to return to the team, it makes sense to keep them with the NBA squad to find those moments. But if a player is coming off of a major injury that has kept them out for an extended period of time (especially a knee injury that greatly hinders endurance), then it makes sense to send them to a basketball environment to get some special attention and real basketball drills to work their way back to playing shape. Factor in that the Knicks don't have a lot of practice time because of their current schedule, as some teams often face, and the D-League could end up being the perfect injury rehab center for NBA teams.
There have been a few examples of this happening in the past. The Minnesota Timberwolves sent Jonny Flynn to the D-League in 2010 to rehab from his hip injury was arguably the most notable because it was the sixth pick of the 2009 draft getting sent down to rehab. Ultimately, this turned out to not be so newsworthy because Flynn quickly played his way out of the NBA.
However, with an established veteran like Stoudemire, this practice could become the norm as the D-League continues to become a more regular option for NBA teams.