How Rasheed Wallace Signing Would Affect NY Knicks' Title Hopes

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2012

MILWAUKEE - FEBRUARY 07: Rasheed Wallace #30 of the Detroit Pistons reacts after being called for a technical foul against the Milwaukee Bucks on February 7, 2009 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Pistons defeated the Bucks 126-121 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agreees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It looks like the New York Knicks are actually serious about this whole Rasheed Wallace thing—go figure.

Whether it has to do with sound basketball rationale or it's just an opportunity for James Dolan to add another attention-grabber to the roster, ESPN's Jared Zwerling reports that NYC's front office appears to be set on adding the 38-year-old forward/center:

Source close to #Knicks: All the players expect a Rasheed Wallace signing to become official. He took his physical w/ the team yesterday.

— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) September 28, 2012

The New York Post's Marc Berman is hearing the same thing.

If there were no such a thing as context, there might be a sound argument for this move. And if there were no such thing as locker-room chemistry, that argument might even be a good one.

But alas, we're living in the real world, where such considerations aren't easily wished away.

You might like the idea of adding Wallace because it adds depth to the power forward and center positions, but the roster already has three good defenders at center (Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas) and two good scorers at power forward (Amar'e Stoudemire and Steve Novak).

That's not counting Carmelo Anthony, who perhaps stands the most to lose with another front-court body. Anthony was at his best playing power forward during stretches late in the season when Stoudemire was unavailable.

His range spread the floor, he used his quickness against bigger defenders and actually held his own on the defensive end.

Just as the Heat used LeBron James at the 4 during Chris Bosh's absence for nine games during the 2012 playoffs, 'Melo similarly proved that in today's NBA, there are at least a handful of sturdy small-forwards who do some of their best work without so many other big men clogging the paint.

Plus, the opportunity to surround Anthony or James with three players who can hit perimeter shots prevents defenders from collapsing to the paint and denying penetration or helping.

As the Knicks' starting 4 last season, Anthony scored 39 points against the Pacers, 43 in a classic one-point win against the Bulls, 32 against the Bucks, 42 against the Heat and 35 against the Celtics.

You shouldn't just be impressed by the productivity, but by the fact the Anthony was doing this against the league's best defensive teams. More importantly, New York won three of those games.

Adding bodies has a ripple effect on a rotation that should feature Carmelo far more frequently in and around the paint.

Wallace may not play the 22.5 minutes a game he averaged in his most recent action two years ago with the Boston Celtics, but signing him nevertheless complicates a front-court rotation that should be looking to use Anthony differently.

Aside from the on-court implications, you also have to wonder if Wallace is a good thing for the locker room. Don't confuse being liked by teammates with being a good locker room presence.

There's little doubt that Wallace would be popular with his cohorts and fans alike. The problem is that his record of serving as a destabilizing influence is impossible to ignore. Does he fire people up? Sure.

But that's not always what you want out of a veteran (something the Knicks already have plenty of).

If Amar'e Stoudemire already is punching things, what do the Knicks need with another hot-head?

No, none of these things likely will have a significant impact on New York's title hopes. But to the extent Wallace has any effect at all, there's just too much risk that it won't be a good one.

In a postseason where series will be won and lost by the narrowest of margins, Carmelo and Co. could use all the help they can get.

The right kind of help.


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