Los Angeles Superior Court Ronald S. Coen said Knight told deputies he was too ill to leave his downtown LA jail cell. Coen said he did not order deputies to forcibly remove Knight because the Death Row Records co-founder has a hearing in his murder case Friday.
Instead, the judge delayed Wednesday's proceedings to coincide with that hearing.
But Coen said he would take a harder line with Knight, who is charged along with comedian Katt Williams with stealing a celebrity photographer's camera. In the separate case, Knight is accused of running over two men with his pickup truck, killing one and seriously injuring the other.
"No one refuses to come to my court," Coen told a prosecutor and an attorney for Williams.
Knight's court appearances have been marked by frequent medical episodes, occasional outbursts and shake-ups to his legal team.
On Wednesday, Coen apologized to Williams' lawyer Shawn Holley for making her return to court Friday for a scheduling hearing.
"I can't afford to play any games" with Knight, Coen said.
Knight fired his lawyer in the robbery case at a previous hearing, and has not yet hired a new one. Coen said he would appoint an attorney for Knight if he didn't have one by Friday.
Knight and Williams have pleaded not guilty to taking the photographer's camera in Beverly Hills in September, just days after Knight was wounded in a nightclub shooting.
Knight also has pleaded not guilty in the murder case, which was filed after he ran over two men outside a Compton burger stand in January. His attorney has said he was fleeing an ambush. Coen has determined there is enough evidence for Knight to stand trial in the case, but Knight's attorney Matt Fletcher is scheduled to argue it should be dismissed at Friday's hearing.
Knight, 50, was a key player in the gangster rap scene that flourished in the 1990s, and his label once listed Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg among its artists.
Knight lost control of the company after it was forced into bankruptcy. He has prior felony convictions for armed robbery and assault with a gun. He pleaded no contest in 1995 and was sentenced to five years' probation for assaulting two rap entertainers at a Hollywood recording studio in 1992.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP