There will be more nights like these for A’mare Stoudemire — nights the 32-year-old, 14-year veteran is probably healthy enough to play but won’t so he can rest his aging knees.
“Opening night is just another game to me,” Stoudemire said Wednesday as he sat at his locker before the Heat opened its season at AmericanAirlines Arena against the Charlotte Hornets. “I’ve been in 13 other opening nights. This is all part of the plan of just being able to preserve myself the best way I can for games that are big games, and to get geared up to stay healthy up until the postseason. We go from there.”
Friday at Cleveland — apparently — counts as a big game. That’s when Stoudemire, whom the Heat signed to a one-year, $1.49 million deal this summer to provide scoring punch and depth in the front court, expects to be back on the active list. Wednesday, he and second-round draft pick Josh Richardson were the Heat’s two inactives.
Stoudemire is not sure how often he’ll sit out. He said he has no target for the number of games he would like to play in. After having double knee debridement surgery during the 2012-13 season, Stoudemire missed 19 games last season and 13 the season before that either because of injury or rest.
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“I think it’s planned pretty far advance,” Stoudemire said of when he will rest. “There’s a plan already put in place that the training staff has already somewhat organized and orchestrated. So it’s up to them to allow me to stick with it. If it was up to me, I’d be playing as much as I can. But they’re more concerned about making it for the playoffs and being there when there are big games.
“I should be ready to go for the Cleveland game. It’s a big game. Big games I should be there. But again, this is my 14th season. My body’s been through a lot throughout my career. I’ve been blessed to play up until this point. I’ve been through a lot of injuries in my career, so I’m able to still maintain health. So why not try to prolong it as best as I can and stick around this league for some extended time.”
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.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said when Stoudemire sits the Heat will likely turn to veterans Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem to eat up his minutes in the rotation.
“All those guys will be available and really depending on what the matchup is [how we’ll play it],” Spoelstra said. “But we intend to use this roster. It could be different from quarter to quarter or game to game.”
If they’re a very small with a shooting five we may go with UD. Both of them played in the same game with that same scenario and we leverage the strength that’s best for our team.”
▪ Those of us who didn’t get into Taylor Swift’s concert Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena didn’t get to see Dwyane Wade present pop music’s biggest star a personalized No. 13 Heat jersey. But that’s what Wade did — while also trying to deal with the screaming of thousands of teenage girls.
“It was loud man,” Wade said Wednesday after shootaround. “I’ve played and it’s been packed in here. But it’s a different kind of loud when you’ve got teenage girls screaming and older men and women screaming.”