Suns All-Star forward Amaré Stoudemire will be out a minimum four months after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee Tuesday morning. The target date for Stoudemire's return is the All-Star Break (Feb 17-19), but that is only if each step of his recovery meets all of its target dates.
Stoudemire will be on crutches and unable to bear any weight on the knee for 4-6 weeks before rehabilitation can begin.
Several Suns, including guard Steve Nash and forward Shawn Marion, said the team can't count on Stoudemire returning this season and have to press on without him.
“It's not the best news I've had all year, but it's out of our control so we have to go out and make the most of what we have,'' said Nash, noting the addition of veteran big men Kurt Thomas, Brian Grant and Pat Burke will help the team weather the storm. Swingmen Raja Bell, James Jones, Boris Diaw and Eddie House are also new this season. “Everyone will take a few more shots and hopefully our offensive cohesion will open up our offense for everyone.''
The Suns had hoped that Stoudemire, whose knee had been bothering him off-and-on all summer, would require only arthroscopic surgery and be out four to six weeks.
But Suns team physician Dr. Tom Carter said the surgery revealed further damage. “The surgery went well and other than the defect that we treated today, Amaré's knee is remarkably and structurally healthy,” Carter said in a statement released by the team. “Given Amaré's age (22), and the nominal size and location of the defect, I am confident the microfracture procedure performed will allow a healthy and normal return to action.”
The Suns continued training camp back at America West Arena Tuesday and held a meeting before practice to talk about the extent of Stoudemire's injury — and how the team will overcome it.
The team has 14 players on its current roster, with rookies Dijon Thompson and Lucas Tischer likely headed to the league developmental league. That means the Suns can add to their roster by signing a free agent to the veteran minimum, or via a trade — the Suns are over the salary cap, but have a $3.6 million cap exception via this summer's Joe Johnson trade with Atlanta.
Suns general manager Bryan Colangelo said he will use the eight exhibition games the team has, beginning Friday night in Seattle, to gauge the progress of the team and whether any immediate changes would be made.
“The people we brought in certainly helps us weather the storm,'' Colangelo said. “(Coach) Mike (D'Antoni) is confident we have enough players and skill level to not necessarily compensate for Amaré's loss , but with depth that will benefit us.''
The microfracture procedure had had mixed results. New Jersey Nets point guard Jason Kidd made a successful return last season, as has Carolina Panthers running back Stephen Davis. But others, including former Sun Penny Hardaway and ex-Cardinal defensive linemen Andre Wadsworth and Eric Swann, were never the same after the surgery.