GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Rasheed Wallace could scrimmage with the Knicks for the first time on Friday, but definitely won’t play in the team’s last preseason game Wednesday against the Nets at Nassau Coliseum.
“Probably in a couple more days,” said Knicks coach Mike Woodson, whose team went 0-3 on its recent exhibition swing that concluded with a 98-90 loss to the 76ers in Syracuse.
“We’re going to get [Wednesday's] game out of the way and give them all the day off Thursday probably and then we’re going to come back and start to work.”
The 6-foot-11 Wallace participated in conditioning drills with the team for the first time Tuesday, but did not play five-on-five in the halfcourt sets.
“I’m good,” said Wallace, whose contract does not become guaranteed until January. “I mean, it wasn’t nothing but conditioning, the same thing I’ve been doing for the last month and a half so I’m good money.”
Wallace is part of a group of walking wounded who won’t play against the Nets.
Amar’e Stoudemire (ruptured left popliteal cyst), Marcus Camby (left calf) and J.R. Smith (Achilles) all remain unable to play.
“J.R. was back today,” Woodson said in reference to Smith’s Achilles’ injury. “He did all the conditioning work and we’re just holding him out of contact right now. As we near these scrimmages that I’m talking about having before the Brooklyn game, he’ll be a part of that as well.”
Stoudemire missed the 76ers game and is expected to miss the season opener Nov. 1 at Brooklyn as well.
“He’s still day-to-day,” Woodson said. “It’s still 2-3 weeks. It’s kind of where we are with him. If anything happens any sooner, they’ll let me know. But right now it’s 2-3 weeks.”
Woodson could opt to go with Kurt Thomas as the starting power forward against bigger teams like the Nets, and play Carmelo Anthony there against smaller lineups like the Heat.
Wallace said he actually felt some bit of pressure to get playing because of Stoudemire’s injury. Wallace is not expected to play heavy minutes, but could help out at power forward while Stoudemire is out.
“A little bit, a little bit I do,” Wallace said. “I feel that desire like my timetable got moved up. But there again it’s up to coach Woodson. I’m there when he needs me, pretty much.”
Wallace said even after he begins scrimmaging this week, it will take some time to get used to playing fullcourt basketball again.
“I could go out there and run a couple miles but now getting in basketball shape it’s more sprint and stop, sprint and stop,” he said. “Almost like a car, city driving, stop and go, stop and go. So that’s what I just have to do, that’s all.”
When he does return, his teammates expect someone who can both shoot it from outside and add to the defensive mix with Tyson Chandler and Camby.
“He’s a great defensive player that talks out there,” Chandler said. “As well as he brings that outside threat. He can stretch the floor as a big man and knock down 3′s. He’s very vocal out there.”
BREWER GETTING BACK INTO THE SWING
While many Knicks are still injured, Ronnie Brewer is on the mend from offseason knee surgery.
In his first game as a Knick, Brewer started at small forward against the 76ers, going 0-for-2 with four rebounds and three assists in 15:39.
“It felt good,” Brewer said. “I was joking with the guys [Monday], it felt like I hadn’t played in a year. That’s what preseason is about. Getting your rhythm. Trying to get in the flow of a game. Get your conditioning down. It felt good to play, come back today and practice hard and kind of get after it. I’m looking forward to [Wednesday] and getting back with the team.”
Woodson said he didn’t know if he would start Brewer (and will base his lineup on what the Nets do) but he planned to give Brewer about 20-22 minutes Wednesday.
“It’s a day-to-day thing with him,” the coach said. “There’s no sense in trying to play him 30-35-40 minutes tomorrow. That’s not good for him. We’ll increase his minutes…and see how he feels.”
Brewer said it’s been tough not being able to practice and play with the team during the early portion of camp and that he hopes to get in the best shape possible before opening night next week.
“I’ve been trying to get extra work, get extra shots up, conditioning before practice, after practice,” he said. “Get some work in the exhibition game against Brooklyn. and a couple days prior to [the game], I’m going to try to get some work in.”
CHANDLER ON DWIGHT
Tyson Chandler didn’t take the bait when told that Dwight Howard said he felt he should’ve been the league’s Defensive Player of the Year last year instead of Chandler.
“No, not at all,” Chandler, who earned 45 first-place votes and 311 total points to take the trophy, said when asked if he had a reaction.
“I thought I should have won it last year, to be honest with you,” Howard told reporters after practice Monday. “I was a little bit upset about that.”
**For more on Chandler going up against Nets center Brook Lopez in tonight’s exhibition game, read Josh Newman’s story here.