Los Angeles Lakers and Rasheed Wallace: What Signing Him Could Signal

Ben Shapiro@benshapironyc1 Analyst IIIMarch 7, 2012

Signing Wallace could make Gasol his teammate, but for how long?
Signing Wallace could make Gasol his teammate, but for how long?Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

A few days before the All-Star break, there was a flurry of stories that made mention of Rasheed Wallace coming out of his brief retirement and returning to the hardwood as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now while it appears that Wallace may come out of retirement and end up wearing purple and gold,  nothing is set in stone.

What exactly would a Wallace signing mean for the Lakers?

One would have to assume they'd use part of the salary cap exception they have as a result of the Lamar Odom trade to sign Wallace. It's also a safe bet that they'd only sign Wallace through the end of the season.

What else would it mean?

A Wallace signing could be a precursor to a much larger deal. It could signal the departure of Pau Gasol in a trade that would in all likelihood bring back players who did not play power forward or center.

It could even signal the eventual trade of Bynum is what one would assume would be a massive deal. Bynum is a player that nearly every team in the entire league would covet. He's the best big man in the NBA not named Dwight Howard

What might deals like that yield for the Lakers? Well a Bynum trade could bring back Howard in return, but if the Lakers declined to make a deal for Howard they still have other soft spots that require attention. 

The Lakers as currently constructed have two glaring holes. One is the lack of a point guard and the other is the lack of another scoring threat from beyond the paint. A small forward with the ability to dribble, penetrate or hit jump shots off the dribble would not only mean more offense for the Lakers, but it would mean less defensive focus on Kobe Bryant.

There's another possible reason to sign Wallace though. Maybe the Lakers aren't going to make a mega deal? Maybe the Lakers feel that adding Wallace to the team will allow them to rest both Gasol and Bynum down the stretch in the regular season in an effort to conserve them for a deep playoff run.

While adding Wallace to the existing Lakers would make them a better team, it's tough to see the addition as one that would put them over the proverbial top in the race to an NBA Title.

First of all, Wallace is not just coming out of a brief retirement, he's coming off a season before his retirement which he spent the better part of injured and ineffective. 

Even if he were to come back in better shape than he departed in, it's still a curious move for the Lakers. If you don't believe that adding Wallace makes them eventual champs, then the signing becomes a way to just push the inevitable restructuring of the team on the back burner.

Adding Wallace doesn't make the Lakers younger and it's not going to change the trajectory of the team dramatically. Unless of course, it's just the beginning of a series of moves to restructure the team. Then adding Wallace could be very interesting.