GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Marcus Camby didn't make it through the first week of Knicks training camp.
The backup center suffered a strained left calf and will miss seven to 10 days. An MRI revealed the injury, which the Knicks don't believe is significant. But Camby is 38 and has a history of missing games, and the Knicks are coming off a season in which they were beset by injuries. "Injuries creep in," coach Mike Woodson said Saturday. "It's not a career-threatening injury. He'll be back."
Amar'e Stoudemire also missed practice Saturday with a sore left ankle. Woodson said Stoudemire tweaked it in practice Friday.
Another big man, newly signed Rasheed Wallace, hasn't taken part in scrimmages yet. Woodson said he is "not ready yet" from a conditioning standpoint. Wallace is trying to come back to the NBA after retiring two years ago for personal reasons. "He's just not there where we want him to be in terms of getting on the floor," Woodson said. "But he'll get there."
The regular season doesn't start for another 31/2 weeks, so the Knicks have time for their health and conditioning to improve. What's most important to this team with championship aspirations is that it's healthy in the late spring. "It's training camp," Tyson Chandler said. "No need to force things now. We got a long season ahead of us. We'd rather have guys healthy than a little banged up that can turn into a bigger issue."
Camby, who will miss at least two preseason games, was signed to back up Chandler and make sure the Knicks' defense doesn't suffer the way it did when Chandler went to the bench last season.
Camby has always been among the league leaders in rebounding and blocked shots, especially when computed over 48 minutes. He averaged 9.0 boards and 1.8 blocks in 22.9 minutes for Portland and Houston last season. But the Knicks need him on the floor. Camby missed 99 games in his four seasons with the Knicks from 1998-2002. He has never played more than 79 games and has surpassed 70 three times in 16 seasons.
But Woodson isn't concerned about his past. "Years ago Marcus was playing 30 minutes a game," he said. "I'm not going to get the Marcus that played 30 minutes a game anymore. If we could just keep him healthy enough to give us productive minutes, if it's two, three or four minutes, that's going to be a plus for our ballclub."
More than that is expected from Camby, who signed a three-year, $13-million contract. But the Knicks have insurance in Kurt Thomas and Wallace. They'll probably need that depth, given their ages. Thomas just turned 40 and Wallace is 38.
"Guys like Camby and Kurt and if Rasheed is a part of it, they're not big-minute players anymore," Woodson said. "You get a good 10 or 15 minutes out of those guys, that's a plus, and it's a plus because you got guys who know how to play and are battle- tested.
"Only time will tell. We just got to make sure that their bodies are ready to run up and down and play and the core guys are carrying the load."