The Knicks seem to have escaped what could have been a devastating injury to Tyson Chandler's left knee. An MRI done Thursday revealed a bone bruise, and the team has listed Chandler as day-to-day.
It's too soon to know if he will be able to play in the Knicks' regular-season opener next Thursday in Brooklyn. But it was a good sign that no structural damage was found in his knee after he collided with Nets forward Gerald Wallace in the first minute of Wednesday's preseason finale and left Nassau Coliseum on crutches.
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They sound optimistic that he will play, but the Knicks usually are cautious with injuries. With someone as critical as Chandler, there's certainly no reason to rush his recovery, even with several Knicks already banged up.
"I just didn't want it to be anything," he said after the game. "We've got bodies down. I felt great before the start of the game and I wanted to set a tone leading to the first game of the season."
Chandler said he thought it was a sprain and that his knee felt as if it got "stretched out" when he and Wallace banged bodies. It looked serious, as Chandler clutched his knee and slammed the floor with his hand before getting up and heading to the locker room.
The Knicks have less than a week for Chandler to rest and get ready for the opener. They aren't expected to have Amar'e Stoudemire for at least the first weekend of the season because of a ruptured popliteal cyst in his left knee. Marcus Camby's status for opening night also is unclear. He hasn't practiced since Oct. 4 because of a strained left calf.
"The only injury we are concerned about right now is Amar'e's," Carmelo Anthony said. "We know Tyson's is not that bad. We have a week to get him back."
If Stoudemire doesn't play, there's a good chance Kurt Thomas will start at power forward. If Chandler can't go, Thomas could start at center and Anthony at power forward.
Thomas, 40, is the NBA's oldest player. Yet he's durable and has been one of the healthiest Knicks in an injury-plagued preseason (J.R. Smith also missed the final five games with a sore left Achilles).
"I'm an old-school player," Thomas said. "I think everyone knows I'm a competitor, a fighter. I do whatever is asked. I'm going to come out and play, make my teammates better and definitely make my opponents work as hard as possible."
The Knicks had Thursday off. They'll practice Friday, when Rasheed Wallace is expected to scrimmage for the first time. Barring any physical issues, Wallace, who sat out two seasons for personal reasons, should be available for the opener.
"We'll evaluate him after Friday and see how he feels," Mike Woodson said. "Hopefully, he'll continue to climb and be where we need him to be."