The Knicks took the court at Madison Square Garden on Sunday for the first time this preseason, and Marcus Camby was able to join the team after missing the past three weeks with a left calf strain.
However, it wasn't a contact practice. Mike Woodson focused on shooting and a walk-through of offensive and defensive sets. The coach said Camby could scrimmage as early as Tuesday, and the backup center is hopeful about playing Thursday in the Knicks' season opener against the Nets.
"I want to play if possible," Camby said after practice. "I know I'm not going to get extended minutes because I haven't really been out there, but I'm shooting to get out there on Thursday."
Starting center Tyson Chandler, who suffered a left knee bone bruise against the Nets last Wednesday, is also optimistic he'll be back by then, too.
"I'm feeling all right," he said. "My knee feels fine and I'm ready to get out there."
Chandler said there was no swelling and he spent Saturday doing some pool exercises, which help strengthen the knee. He's glad to be almost 100 percent healthy again.
"I'm very relieved because, like I said, it wasn't something that I'd ever dealt with," he said. "So, you know, obviously it was a little stress on my mind, but now I'm at ease and just trying to get back on the court."
THE SCOOP ON SHEED: Rasheed Wallace could be another addition to the Knicks' frontline on Nov. 1. He said if need be, he's prepared to play 30 minutes that night.
"Really to me, honestly, it doesn't matter," he said, "no matter if I'm two minutes, no matter if I'm 30 minutes, whatever. I just gotta do what I can do out there for the team."
Wallace showed off his defensive and shooting strengths during practice at the Garden. Guarding the ball, he was the loudest one, letting his teammates in front of him know what to watch out for. Wallace has always believed in the importance of communication in his career, and he sees the same mentality in his seasoned frontcourt buddies.
"It's easy being out there with Kurt and Marcus or TC," he said, "because, for one, I know they're defensive-minded guys, so it's not really too much I have to say to them as far as, 'Okay, you gotta be here, you gotta be there.' They already know it and it's just a matter of us out there talking from all five spots really."
Then, in some of Woodson's halfcourt sets, which had the power forward popping out after setting some down and on-the-block screens, Wallace didn't miss off the bank. Almost every make prompted him to show off his humorous side, jokingly saying, "Chase Manhattan!"
"That's what the guys probably want me to call it, instead of bank," he said. "Just call it 'Chase Manhattan' because it's always open."
Many of the Knicks are veterans, so they're more than familiar with the 15-year veteran's famously loud personality. That includes Carmelo Anthony.
"Sheed's just funny without even being funny, man," Melo said. "He's our vocalist right now on the court. You saw it during the preseason game against Brooklyn. He was the loudest thing on the bench, in the locker room. He's constantly getting people up, getting people going, writing positive messages on the board. He's definitely one of our big, vocal leaders."
THE RETURN TO THE GARDEN: Anthony: "About time. We were kind of mad that we didn’t have any preseason games here, but the overall big picture with them redoing the whole new arena for us, on (Nov. 2 against the Heat), this thing will be rocking.”
Woodson: "It's always good to be able to practice on our own floor. I mean, this is going to be where we gain ground this year. We've got to win at home. That's what it's all about and our fans are going to expect that, and we should want to feel good about entertaining our fans when we step out on that floor."
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