Knicks center Tyson Chandler watches from the bench during the...

Knicks center Tyson Chandler watches from the bench during the fourth quarter. (Feb. 20, 2013) Credit: AP

The Knicks continue to get weaker at a time when teams hope to get stronger.

All-Star center Tyson Chandler will miss about a week, the Knicks said, after an MRI on his cervical spine Tuesday revealed a small bulging disc. If that timetable is correct, Chandler could sit another three to five games. He's been sidelined the last three with a bruised left knee and neck strain.

The news is worse for Kurt Thomas, whose regular season likely is over after helping the short-handed Knicks win in Utah Monday night while playing with a broken right foot in the finale of their five-game trip.

An MRI showed Thomas has an acute stress reaction surrounding a chronic stress fracture. The Knicks said Thomas, 40, will be out about two to four weeks.

Thomas joins Amar'e Stoudemire (right knee surgery) and Rasheed Wallace (left foot surgery) as Knicks big men expected to miss at least the rest of the regular season. The Knicks have to consider adding someone, but they would need to cut a player to create a roster spot.

The injuries couldn't come at a worse time. Teams are making their push for the playoffs and postseason positioning and the Knicks are limping toward the finish line.

They hope Carmelo Anthony will return Wednesday night against the Magic. He has missed the last three games after having fluid drained from his right knee.

Jason Kidd suffered a bruised left wrist in the win over the Jazz and is expected to play, but he might be limited.

Chandler's health has become a concern now. He's had neck issues throughout the season. Before hurting his knee in Denver last Wednesday, Chandler was reaching for and holding his neck at different points of the game.

The Knicks' hopes for maintaining their spot atop the Atlantic Division and getting the East's No. 2 or No. 3 seed could take a hit if Chandler doesn't return quickly.

The Knicks' next three games are against lottery-bound teams: Orlando and a home-and-home with Toronto Friday and Saturday. After that, they go to Boston Tuesday and come home the next day to face the Grizzlies. They face the Wizards and Celtics at the Garden and then are at Miami and Atlanta.

It's a critical stretch for the Knicks, who despite winning only two of their last seven games, haven't lost much ground.

They're only 11/2 games behind Indiana for the East's second-best record and hold a one-game division lead on the Nets, who have seven games left on an eight-game road trip.

"We can't panic at this particular time," Mike Woodson said. "The bottom line is we still have a lot of basketball. Even though we seem to be teetering around, we're still hanging where we set out to be -- that's right at the top and that's where we want to stay."

The Knicks have become thin up front and consequently might have to make a move.

Until Chandler returns, Kenyon Martin, Chris Copeland and Marcus Camby are the power forwards and centers. Camby has been banged up most of the season with foot problems and Copeland isn't nearly the defender Thomas and Wallace are.

James White is seldom-used, but it might not make sense to waive a healthy body. But if the Knicks believe Wallace and Thomas can play in the postseason, they might not want to cut them, either.

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