Penny Hardaway: Rasheed Wallace No Longer Serving as In-Person Memphis Assistant

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 19, 2022

MEMPHIS, TN - NOVEMBER 19: Rasheed Wallace and Larry Brown, assistant coaches of the Memphis Tigers look on from the bench against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers during a game on November 19, 2021 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis defeated Western Kentucky 74-62. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

The Memphis men's basketball team has minimized Rasheed Wallace's role with the team and removed him from in-person duties.

Head coach Penny Hardaway told reporters Wednesday that Wallace will serve as a consultant for the time being.

Jason Munz @munzly

Penny didn’t close the door on Rasheed possibly returning in-person down the road. <br><br>Says Rasheed is “still a coach.” But said his in-person absence is a mutual decision based on “health and safety” concerns.

Wallace, a four-time All-Star in the NBA, joined the Tigers in August as an assistant coach.

The exact reason for the move is unclear, though Hardaway confirmed on Jan. 12 that Wallace was in the COVID-19 protocols, thus taking him away from the team. He continued to work remotely with players through Zoom calls.

Star center Jalen Duren praised his contributions from afar.

Jason Munz @munzly

More Jalen Duren on Rasheed Wallace: “Definitely a guy with a lot of energy and was a great mentor for the bigs when he was here and I definitely learned a lot from him.”

The logic behind bringing Wallace onto the staff was obvious.

In discussing the hire, Hardaway highlighted the insight the 6'10" former forward might be able to impart upon the likes of Duren, Emoni Bates and DeAndre Williams.

In addition to helping the Detroit Pistons win an NBA title in 2003-04 and return to the 2005 NBA Finals, Wallace was a bit ahead of his time. He shot 33.6 percent from three-point range and averaged one made three-pointer per game. The 47-year-old would've been a perfect fit in today's game, which places a high emphasis on spacing the floor.

For Wallace, this was an opportunity to take the next step in his coaching career, but the partnership only made it a few months before hitting a roadblock.

This adds to an already disjointed season for the Tigers, one interrupted by a COVID-19 outbreak. Heading into Thursday's game against SMU, Hardaway's squad is 9-7 and tied for sixth in the AAC.