Chandler expects to start in season opener

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Tyson Chandler took contact for the first time in seven days on Wednesday and said afterward that he's ready to take the court for the Knicks.

Both Chandler and Mike Woodson expect the center to start for New York opening night, whenever that is.

The Knicks' Thursday night opener against Brooklyn was postponed Wednesday in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The Knicks are now expected to open their season Friday at home against the Miami Heat. Chandler, who suffered a bone bruise in his left knee last Wednesday against the Nets, expects to be in the starting lineup.

"I think I'm going to be fine," Chandler said. "Played with contact today. (I'm) not as explosive as I normally am out there ... but (I'm) good enough to give my team something and I feel good enough to protect myself."

Woodson was relieved to have his big man healthy on the eve of the regular season.

"He's a major piece of what we do, playing the center spot and plugging up some of the holes for us from a defensive standpoint," the coach said. "You like to start with him when you start the season."

Chandler's backup, Marcus Camby, practiced in full on Wednesday for the first time since suffering a calf injury in the first week of the preseason. The Knicks originally thought Camby would be out 7-10 days, but it has been 25 days since he suffered the ailment.

The 38-year-old veteran was optimistic about playing in the opener, if they had played the Nets. Woodson, however, wasn't so sure.

"He's got to go home and sleep on this practice and see how he feels when he gets up in the morning," Woodson said, before the NBA announced that Thursday's game was postponed. "And then we'll make a decision."

Now that the Knicks have an extra day to practice before Friday's opener, you'd think the likelihood that Camby suits up only increases.

BREWER MAKING PROGRESS: Ronnie Brewer has made consistent strides in his conditioning since his preseason debut 10 days ago.

But he's still not in optimum shape. Woodson's OK with that, though. The coach said that he's comfortable with Brewer working on his conditioning during the season because the Knicks are deep in the back court and at small forward. Therefore, they don't have to play Brewer for major minutes early on.

The former Bull, who is coming back from knee surgery, is expected to start at shooting guard in the Knicks' opener.

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