- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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What should you expect from Rasheed Wallace?
Well, in the best-case scenario, Wallace will give the Knicks consistent minutes off of the bench, backing up Amare Stoudemire at power forward.
If everything falls into place for New York, Wallace will provide the Knicks with another strong low-post defender off the bench. Also, in a perfect world, Wallace will give New York another reserve capable of knocking down a 3-pointer, along with Steve Novak and J.R. Smith.
Stoudemire, naturally, is hoping for the best from Wallace.
"He provides more depth from a low-post position," Stoudemire said shortly after Wallace signed on Wednesday. "He's also going to space the floor. Having a guy of his magnitude to be able to shoot the three as well as he does, it's going to help us tremendously."
That's assuming, of course, that Wallace will be healthy enough to play. And, at this point, that's a big assumption.
Wallace hasn't set foot on an NBA floor since the last game of the 2009-10 season.
From there he says he's been in North Carolina, playing Pro-Am, watching college hoops and generally "taking it easy."
As he should. After all, that's what you do when you retire.
But it's not what you do when you're an active NBA player, which is what Wallace became when he put pen to paper on Wednesday.
So his conditioning is now an issue for the Knicks. Wallace is confident that he can get in shape by the season-opener on Nov. 1. But that's not when the Knicks will really need him. Wallace will have more value to the team late in the regular season and in the playoffs.
So maybe that's what Stoudemire was hinting at when he said Wallace will be "ready to go when it's time."
"We're not looking to have Rasheed play 40 minutes a night. ... He's a veteran player who knows what it takes to get himself in game-ready shape and we have high confidence that he'll be ready to go when it's time," Stoudemire said.
Mike Woodson called Wallace an 'insurance policy' on Wednesday and didn't give a definitive answer when asked if Wallace will be able to contribute to the team.
If it doesn't work out, however, it's not the end of the world for the Knicks. According to a league source, Wallace has signed a non-guaranteed deal for $1.7 million, the veteran's minimum.
So the Knicks view the move as a low-risk, high-reward situation. If Wallace is healthy, he can give the team more depth in a front court that seems deep as it is, which is important in the postseason.
If not, they can cut him and move on.
But given how much coaxing Woodson had to do to get him out of retirement, it's hard to see that happening. So you can expect to see Wallace woofing on the Garden floor this season.
When will that happen?
"Only time will tell," Woodson said.
QUESTION: What do you think Wallace's role will be with the Knicks this season? Can the move work? Why or why not?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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