**The Knicks-Nets game was postponed to Nov. 26 at the Barclays Center. Read about it here.
Marcus Camby very nearly joined the Miami Heat as a free agent this past July after talking extensively to team president Pat Riley.
How close did he come to becoming part of the Miami Dream Team?
“Honestly, I was going on the plane to Miami when Allan [Houston] and Glen [Grunwald] and Woody [Mike Woodson] came down to Houston,” Camby, 38, told reporters after practice Thursday. “So that’s how close I was.”
Camby, who helped the Knicks reach the NBA Finals in 1999, added, “In hindsight I felt that I’m always a Knick at heart.”
Now he and his teammates will face LeBron James and the defending NBA champion Heat in a rematch of their first-round playoff series won by the Heat, 4-1, in the season-opener Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
“When I put on that uniform it’s going to bring back all the good memories, all the great times I’ve had here as a player,” Camby said. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about that run that we had in ’99. But that’s in the past. Right now I feel we have a team that’s assembled to play late in June.”
Camby considered the Knicks and Heat in July, but ultimately chose New York for the $1.4 million veteran’s minimum not only because of his relationship with Grunwald, whom he knew from his time in Toronto, and Houston, with whom he played in New York, but because of his friendship with Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, too.
“Being reunited with Carmelo and J.R. was icing on the cake,” Camby said. “Those guys are my brothers. I played five years with those guys in Denver and I wanted to come here and help Melo get a championship.”
Anthony was part of the same 2003 NBA Draft class that included James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, all of whom have NBA rings now.
“I know him seeing all those guys in that draft class, he might not say it but those guys getting a ring I know he wants one,” Camby said. “He got one in college and he deserves one in the NBA so that was added motivation to come here to New York.”
Asked how Miami President Pat Riley felt about Camby’s decision, he joked: “He was fine, he ended up signing Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.”
Camby missed three weeks of the preseason with a left calf ailment, but after practicing a few days this week he feels he can help out for 5-10 minutes against LeBron and company.
“I’ll be available some,” Camby said. “It’ll be up to coach to see how he uses me.”
Said Woodson: “We’ll see. He hasn’t really had any court time so we’ll just have to gauge and and see how things go throughout the course of the game.”
Miami uses a smaller lineup than the Nets would have used had the Knicks played at Brooklyn Thursday night. That means that Anthony could start at the four.
Still, Camby and Tyson Chandler, who is still recovering from a bone bruise in his knee, can help defend the basket against James and Wade and Miami’s attacking players.
“Hopefully, the guys at he perimeter can keep those guys from getting in the paint,” Camby said. “But those guys have trust in us as teammates that we’re going to have their back to protect the basket.”
Though the Knicks are battling injuries and are without Amar’e Stoudemire for up to two months, Camby believes the Knicks can contend for an NBA title as the season progresses.
Now he and the Knicks can test themselves right off the bat against the defending champs.
“It’s early, it’s real early in the season,” he said. “We both have dreams and aspirations of being there at the end so more than likely we’re going to see this team in June.”
Photo: NY Post