Wallace, Camby return to practice

Rasheed Wallace has been sidelined since Dec. 15 due to a stress reaction in his foot. Jim Davis/Getty Images

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Veteran forwards Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby practiced for the first time in more than a month on Tuesday, but there is still no timetable for either player's return.

Camby has been sidelined since Jan. 11 due to a strained left plantar fascia.

Wallace has been out since Dec. 15 with a stress reaction in his left foot.

Both Wallace and Camby were active in conditioning drills in the Knicks' first practice after the All-Star break. Neither, however, took part in contact drills, and it is unclear if or when either Wallace or Camby will return to the floor.

The Knicks have listed Wallace as day-to-day since he went down with the injury. Originally, it was called a "sore left foot." But the Knicks updated Wallace's status to a stress reaction after a published report stated he had a stress fracture.

According to two league sources, there was a faction of the organization that believed the 38-year-old Wallace would be out for an extended period, possibly the entire season, so they wanted to pursue a free agent last month to replace him.

Another faction, led by Mike Woodson, wanted to give Wallace time to heal. The Knicks have clearly opted with the latter.

But the health of Wallace and Camby could force general manager Glen Grunwald to make a move for a veteran big man in advance of Thursday's trade deadline. The team could also pursue a veteran free agent, such as Kenyon Martin or Louis Amundson, if they don't believe Camby and/or Wallace can be effective anytime soon.

After watching both forwards work out on Tuesday, Woodson was optimistic that Camby and Wallace would eventually return to the court. But he could not offer a specific date for either to return.

"Today was a step for both of them in terms of conditioning. Like I mentioned a week or so ago, I'm not going to just throw them in a uniform," Woodson said. "They're going to have to run up and down and participate a little bit in practice and then we'll consider putting them in the ball game. They're not going to ever play big minutes. I just want them to be safe and somewhat physically ready to play when I put them in there."

Camby, who signed a three-year contract with the Knicks in the offseason and was obtained via a sign-and-trade, has been a non-factor thus far.

In 14 games, the 16-year vet has averaged 2.1 points and 3.7 rebounds in 10.4 minutes.

Wallace, on the other hand, was a significant contributor during the Knicks' 17-4 start. The 15-year veteran averaged 7.2 points per game and 4.2 rebounds in 14.6 minutes.

With Wallace out, the Knicks have gone 15-13. They have allowed 103.8 points per 100 possessions with Wallace on the bench. With Wallace on the floor, they give up 97 points per 100 possessions.

Woodson hopes Wallace, whom he coaxed out of retirement to sign a veteran's minimum contract in training camp, can fill a defensive void for the Knicks.

Wallace was moving gingerly in an individual drill late in practice on Tuesday.

"That's why we've been very cautious up to this point," Woodson said.

Referring to both Camby and Wallace, the coach added: "We're just trying to stay the course in terms of both of them getting back to where they can run up and down and cut a little bit and hopefully give us some positive minutes."

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