At Some Point, Camby Situation Needs an Answer

Friday night, Mike Woodson again opted to leave Marcus Camby on the bench, this time in a blowout of the Washington Wizards in which pretty much everyone else played. The result was the awkward and somewhat regrettable situation of the Garden faithful chanting for Marcus over the final few minutes, with the next step being him dressed as a Knickerbocker and dancing the Knickerbocker two-step at halftime, something no one wants to see.

Woodson explained the situation thusly:

“I decided tonight to go with the young guys,” Woodson said. “Marcus is a pro, he understands. He’s here for the long haul and he’s here to help us win. I decided to go with (James) White and (Chris) Copeland tonight, and I thought they played well for the minutes they received.”

Brian DiMenna

For now, no one appears eager to push Woodson too hard for answers as to why Camby has seen so little playing time over the first fifteen games, and rightfully so. At 11-4, there’s not much point in making much hay out of an issue that’s been such a non-factor to date.

But given that one of the team’s few areas of weakness (rebounding) happens to be Camby’s particular area of expertise, the expectation is that at some point Camby is going to get some run, and his early season spot in the doghouse is mostly related to the setback he suffered during the preseason thanks to a calf injury.

Woodson has consistently blamed conditioning for the lack of playing time, but eventually that rationale is likely to wear thin. I mean, how bad of shape is this guy in? Camby’s calf strain kept him out about a week, did he spend that whole time smoking cigarettes and funneling cookie dough? What exactly is the conditioning problem?

And yet, the conventional wisdom continues to be that Camby — in the first of a three-year deal — will eventually be a contributor, but the question is when? For now, Woodson’s evasions are serving their purpose, relegating Camby’s status to non-issue as the team continues to roll, but that situation is unlikely to last. If rebounding continues as a problem, Camby’s absence will become impossible to ignore, and Woodson will be forced to answer the most basic question there is: Can this guy still play?

Update: And there you go, Camby’s out for Sunday’s game with a foot injury.

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