The New York Knicks have brought in more than their fair share of veterans over the course of the offseason, and the latest has been a hot topic of discussion so far in training camp.
Two years into his retirement, Rasheed Wallace was convinced by the Knicks to return to basketball, signing a non-guaranteed contract, and being given a chance to ultimately make the opening day roster.
At 38, Wallace is the player that puts the Knicks over the top in terms of age, making them the oldest team in NBA history if he eventually makes the roster.
Opinions are divided on whether or not facilitating Sheed's comeback was a good move for the Knicks, but for a team starved of cap space, he can definitely be a contributor.
Wallace has not been the ideal role model over the course of his career—he's the league's all-time leader in technical fouls—but one thing we do know is that he can be a big presence in the locker room.
Sheed is loud, and he's not afraid to say what's on his mind. This has its downfalls in the media, but if certain players on the team aren't doing their job, he won't shy away from letting them know.
More to the point, he's a winner. The Knicks are a team looking to make the jump to becoming a title-contender, and having proven winners like Wallace—a former NBA champion and a finalist the last time we saw him—can only help.
It's come very late in his career, but based on some of his early interviews as a Knick, Wallace has finally matured. It's clear that he understands his role, and what he was brought here to do. By the sounds of it, he's focused on making sure he gets back in NBA shape.
Coming out of retirement is a huge commitment for a former player, and there's no way Wallace would risk wasting all the work he's put in with some regrettable antics in the media.
On the court, Wallace has the chance to make the cut as the Knicks' back-up power forward, with minutes possibly coming at the five as well.
The Knicks are pretty thin behind Stoudemire with only Kurt Thomas and Chris Copeland, but once in shape, Wallace will add some much-needed depth.
With a 34 percent career clip, Wallace also brings an outside shooting threat, something that could be deadly on a bench unit that already features Jason Kidd, Steve Novak and J.R. Smith.
On the boards and on defense, Wallace can be a big help, too. His body obviously won't be the same as it was in his prime, but you can guarantee that he'll play physically, and make good on his reputation as a defensive-minded player.
Ultimately, he's the type of player that fits in with what the Knicks are trying to do. They want to play physically with defense as the priority—an old-school style of basketball if you will. Based on his reasoning for coming out of retirement, it sounds like Wallace is committed to that same cause:
“It’s the passion to come back and show y’all how post players really need to play—old-school basketball. Y’all are used to all this new, young stuff, high-flying and dunking. That’s not basketball. Terrible footwork by a lot of young guys out here. Let’s go back to old-school basics.’’ (via The New York Post)
Wallace's thoughts echo what Mike Woodson is trying to preach to his team, as the Knicks look to go in a completely opposite direction than Mike D'Antoni had them going.
It's been two years since Sheed's retirement now, so there is naturally going to be some concern about whether or not he can still play at a high level. His former head coach Doc Rivers has offered some hope, though, indicating that Wallace's retirement may have come a little too early.
Right now, we are almost a week away from the start of the regular season, and Wallace could have a big role to play in the short-term.
The Knicks have struggled with injuries so far in camp with Stoudemire out for a few weeks and Marcus Camby looking unlikely to be ready for opening day. This leaves room for some serious minutes for Rasheed Wallace if he can get in shape in time.
Wallace has yet to have a full practice with the Knicks yet, but Woodson said he could see his first scrimmage action on Friday.
By the time opening day rolls around, Wallace will not have played a single minute of preseason action, but he insists that he'll be ready as soon as Coach Woodson needs him.
Time is running out for Wallace to make the roster, but he sounds motivated, and he's the type of player that Woodson wants on the team.
If and when he does make it back to the floor, we know Wallace won't play a huge role, but there are definitely some positive things he brings to the table for the Knicks.