Commentary

Stoudemire could return before opener; Marion to bury trade thoughts for now

Updated: October 5, 2007, 11:30 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Flashbacks were naturally unavoidable Tuesday for the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns were together again at the University of Arizona for training camp and quickly forced to deal with an Amare Stoudemire knee injury. Again.

Yet there was a major difference on the same McKale Center floor compared to two years ago, when the Suns' 2005 camp was rocked by the stunning conclusion that Stoudemire's left knee would need the most feared surgery in the NBA -- microfracture -- mere weeks after he signed a $73-million contract extension.

On the opening day of this camp, there was little outward dread or panic to accompany the team's announcement that Stoudemire had undergone a successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

"He should be on the practice floor in 2 ½ to 3 weeks," Suns president Steve Kerr said. "We'll see what happens from there, but there's no real concern."

The team's soaring confidence in Stoudemire's recuperative powers would appear to be justified after he played all 82 games last season in his comeback from microfracture and played so well that he made the West All-Star team as well as the All-NBA first team.

The Suns maintain that Tuesday's procedure was necessary merely to remove a loose body from the right knee which was discovered when Stoudemire developed some swelling and soreness during the last week of pre-camp informal workouts in Phoenix. This is the second time Stoudemire's non-microfracture knee has required arthroscopy, after an April 2006 procedure to address wear and tear of the kneecap.

"It's something that probably would have hampered Amare all year," Kerr said, "so it's better to get it done now."

Said Suns coach Mike D'Antoni, "I told Amare, '[You] played all summer, so take these three weeks, rehab, get it better and [you'll] last all year.' Maybe his body told him he needed three weeks off, and that's fine."

Kerr and D'Antoni likewise insisted that Shawn Marion's recent trade demand wouldn't derail the Suns in their attempt to avenge their playoff disappointment of the past three seasons. Marion addressed the group in a team meeting Monday night after the Suns' arrival in Tucson and also met privately with Kerr.

Shawn Marion
AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinMarion's in Tucson, but not eager to discuss his recent trade demand.

"I'm here with this team and that's what it's all about," Marion said, vowing to put the demand "in the back of my mind and bury it for right now" after the Suns informed him that they don't plan to move him. "I said what I had to say and that's it."

As for the reaction from fellow players, Marion said: "We're fine, we're all good and we're all on the same page."

Said Suns guard Steve Nash: "Shawn's fine with us. I think he's going to make a commitment to us and to play for us and have a great season. He's going to put that behind him and work with us, so we're happy to have him back.

"He's already been great with us. It seems like he feels a little more comfortable after the first morning and we've just got to keep making him feel comfortable and keep supporting him and allow him to get back into the situation and feel like he always did.

"Shawn is a guy who gets along with everyone on the team, so I didn't expect him to be coming in with a militant frame of mind or anything. He's a lovable guy and when he's around his teammates, it's hard for him, I think, to stay angry amongst his teammates."

Stoudemire, meanwhile, is scheduled to arrive Thursday after spending some time on crutches.

"We've got to stop coming to Tucson, I guess," said Kerr, who did manage a smile in spite of the Suns' painful pattern at his alma mater.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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