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 PHOENIX (AP) -Amare Stoudemire said he will wear goggles when he returns to the NBA next season, and the All-Star forward doesn't expect his eye injury to affect the way he plays the game.
``As long as I've got eye protection, I should be OK,'' he said, ``still play aggressive, explosive and just active. That shouldn't change anything.''
Wearing sunglasses to shade his healing eye from the light, Stoudemire made his first appearance at a Suns game Saturday since he underwent surgery to repair a torn retina a month ago.
All he can do now, he said, is wait for the eye to heal.
``I can't do any activity, no head-jarring motion,'' he said, ``so my activity is very limited, but I finally get a chance to get out of the house here tonight.''
He said he hopes to be able to resume full activity ``in a month or two.''
poked in the eye by teammate Boris Diaw in training camp, causing a partially detached iris. He briefly wore goggles after that, but discarded them when he was assured that another eye injury was unlikely.
``Absolutely, it sealed the deal. I'm wearing goggles from here on out,'' Stoudemire said.
A starter for the West in the All-Star game, Stoudemire scored 42 points in his last game of the season, a 142-119 blowout of the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 18.
He had started all 53 games, leading the team with 21.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
``I was starting to really step into my own as far as playing the game of basketball,'' Stoudemire said. ``I was ready to really take that next step. Every season I've played in the NBA, I've always elevated my game for the second half of the season, and I was looking forward to it.''
Stoudemire had expected to thrive with the firing of coach Terry Porter and the promotion of Alvin Gentry, who returned the team to the high-speed style that suits the big, swift forward at his best. But he lasted only two games under Gentry before the injury.
``The only healing process is time. There's really no rehab,'' Stoudemire said. ``It's different from any other injuries to where you can rehab and know it's going to get back to 100 percent because you're working on it.''
emire is scheduled to earn $16 million next season. After that, he can opt out of the final year of the deal. The cost-conscious Suns might not be willing to pay what it would take to re-sign him, so a trade is a solid possibility.
``I'm planning on being here,'' Stoudemire said. ``That's the most important thing is my plan is to be here but you never know how it plays out.''
He said he's ``absolutely'' willing to talk about an extension, and said that would be up to Suns owner Robert Sarver and general manager Steve Kerr.
Stoudemire said he has to wear eye protection when he plays with his young children, but said that has been the positive side of his injury.
``That's probably been the most positive thing about this situation is I've spent a lot of time with my kids,'' he said, ``a lot of daddy day care.''
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