Player profile: Knicks' Rasheed Wallace a veteran unknown

Elsa

What does Rasheed Wallace bring to the table after two years away from the NBA? No one really knows for sure.

Rasheed Wallace has never been one to shy away from attention. His big mouth and antics have often overshadowed his usefulness on the court during his 15-year career. So it's no wonder that after two years of retirement, the 38-year-old has decided to hit the court again under the Broadway lights.

This time, though, the power forward has no assurances of a roster spot or playing time. The New York Knicks signed Wallace on Oct. 3 to a $1.7 million contract with no guarantees until Jan. 5, according to the New York Post, thus the two sides could part ways and the team would not be on the hook for the rest of the money owed.

Wallace has played 1,088 game in his career, so he's another veteran the Knicks brought in this offseason -- names that include Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby -- who adds to the league's oldest roster. The power forward is a four-time All-Star and won one NBA championship, in 2004 with the Portland Trailblazers, the team he spent eight years
with. The 6-foot-11, 230-pound Wallace has career averages of 14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks and a career 33.7 percent mark from the 3-point line. Wallace has played for four other teams in his career, being drafted by the Washington Wizards (then Bullets), spending one game with the Atlanta Hawks, then being sent to the Detroit Pistons, where he spent just over five years. Even though he reached the NBA Finals with the Boston Celtics in 2010, age took its toll that year and he struggled, ultimately deciding to call it quits.

Wallace wasn't exactly the same dynamic player he's been during his career with the Celtics in his "final" year, and he reportedly wasn't in the best shape during his tryout with New York. There has been no reports of injuries thus far in the preseason, yet it took him three weeks to take part in his first practice as he wasn't even fit for that. Now that his conditioning has improved, the big man seems close to game action, but it still doesn't appear like he'll play Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets.

Speaking of which, what should the Knicks expect from Wallace once he steps on the court? It's reassuring (or maybe not) that coach Mike Woodson has set very low expectations since Day 1.

"It's not like we're looking at a player who's going to play a lot of minutes," Woodson said as reported by ESPNNY. "He's an insurance policy and (a) what-if. "If he gets in and plays 5-10 minutes, we've got to hope it's the best 5-10 minutes to help us win basketball games. We've got enough guys on this team that we don't have to play guys a lot of minutes."

In most situations, Wallace would've probably received his pink slip by now. One day of practice. No games played. Two years off. Those aren't the words you want to hear, even if it's about the last man on the roster. Wallace's "stay" may be prolonged because Woodson says Wallace is closer to making an impact than Camby, who has dealt with a calf injury all preseason. Amare Stoudemire also is battling a knee injury and the team is "cautiously optimistic" that he'll return in two-to-three weeks. The season starts Nov. 1 and because of these injuries, the power forward has time to prove that he can be effective in short spurts.

For a few minutes a night, Wallace may be an effective post defender as someone who can clog the lane, and he still has at least the threat of the long-range shot that has always made him very tough to guard. But does he have anything else to offer? Is he over-the-hill? The Knicks may not have any other choice but to find that out -- but luckily, they've got another few months to see what's left in the tank.

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