The Knicks couldn't escape the final preseason game without another injury to a significant player. This time it's Tyson Chandler's health that has Mike Woodson's stomach in knots.
Chandler left the Knicks' locker room on crutches Wednesday night and will have an MRI on his left knee Thursday. Trying to set a pick, Chandler collided with the Nets' Gerald Wallace, ending his night 44 seconds into the Knicks' 97-95 overtime win at Nassau Coliseum.
Chandler appeared to be in serious pain after Wallace ran into him. He immediately fell to the floor and was clutching his left leg. After being down for several moments, he banged the hardwood with his fist, then hopped up and walked off. The Knicks called it a sore left knee, but Chandler said he thinks it's a sprain. More will be known after the MRI.
"It stretched my knee out a little bit," Chandler said. "It was awkward. My foot was planted when he fell into me. It just torqued my knee outside a little bit. I kind of didn't feel it until I started laying there."
Chandler didn't sound too concerned, though. He said the Knicks want him to not put any pressure on his knee until they get the results of the MRI.
"I just feel like I have a sprain or something like that," Chandler said. "I'm sure I'll stay off it the next couple of days and then pick up work with my teammates leading into the first game of the season."
The Knicks open the season a week from Thursday in Brooklyn. They can't afford an injury to Chandler, their anchor in the middle and last season's NBA Defensive Player of the Year, especially because they're already hobbled in the frontcourt.
Amar'e Stoudemire could miss at least the first five regular-season games with a ruptured cyst in his left knee. Marcus Camby remains out with a strained left calf and his status for opening night is unclear.
Rasheed Wallace was in uniform Wednesday night and went through warm ups, but didn't play. Wallace, who hasn't played the past two seasons, is expected to scrimmage Friday and could play next week in Brooklyn. But Woodson's immediate concern was with Chandler.
"We don't know the extent of it," he said. "He'll be evaluated [Thursday] along with James [White]. We'll go from there. At this point I don't know."
White left Wednesday night's game with a sore left foot and didn't return. The Knicks also are without J.R. Smith, who missed the last four preseason games with a left Achilles injury.
If Chandler misses time, 40-year-old Kurt Thomas, who has been one of the Knicks' healthiest players, could start at center opening night. Camp invite Chris Copeland also should make the roster because of the injuries and his impressive play the last three preseason games.
Other veteran big men are available, including Kenyon Martin. But the Knicks haven't shown much interest in him to this point. "I'm not one who's going to sit here and panic and complain," Woodson said. "It's what it is right now. It's a long season. Whoever's in uniform, that's who I'm going to go out and win with."
Notes & quotes: Knicks players aren't the only ones beat up. Woodson had a Band-Aid covering a cut over his right eye. "You should see the other guy," Woodson said. "I'm not going to tell you about it, but he's pretty messed up, too.". . . Knicks point guard Jason Kidd acknowledged he was interested in rejoining the Nets this summer as a free agent. "We tried," he said. "It just didn't work out."