WALTHAM, Mass. — Rasheed Wallace is back in the NBA, if not
quite back on the court. After spending two years away from the game, Wallace
signed with the New York Knicks during the offseason and could team with Marcus
Camby this season to form one of the NBA's oldest front lines once he is cleared
The Knicks can count on Camby, 38, to provide a still-strong
defensive presence and some veteran experience. What they can count on from Wallace,
also 38, is unknown.
"He's going to be Rasheed, we know that," Celtics
coach Doc Rivers said Friday as his team prepared to take on the Knicks in
Saturday's preseason game in Hartford, Conn. "I've got a feeling the
Knicks will have a spike in technicals this year."
Wallace reportedly intended to unretire last year but was
never able to get in shape in time after the lockout was lifted. He has not
been on the court in an NBA game since Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals with the
Celtics, who never inquired about his services last season despite their needs
in the frontcourt, because he simply was not in playing condition.
It remains to be seen whether he has worked his way back
into basketball shape. The Knicks left him in New York for their preseason game
in Washington on Thursday, and the given reason was "conditioning." Normally,
there would not be any shame in a 38-year-old needing a day off, but
40-year-old Kurt Thomas did not have any trouble starting that game.
"I thought his issue was, he needed to get in better
condition," Rivers said. "Even with us, he needed to get in better
condition. I don't know, now that he's been out two years, but I thought he was
too skilled to retire at the point he retired."
During Wallace's sabbatical, Kevin Garnett said his former
teammate peppered him with text messages. Since Wallace's comeback, Garnett's
phone has been less active, not that the Celtics' big man does not relish
getting in a few shots.
"I heard he didn't make the trip to Washington, so I
hope everything's good with him in New York," Garnett said. "I
haven't spoken to him. He usually has all the time in the world to text me and
get on my damn nerves. Now it's my turn to get on his ass about getting in
shape and all this other stuff I've been reading about. It'll be good to see
him back on the floor."
If the new 'Sheed is anything like the old 'Sheed, Garnett
and the Celtics may hear him before they see him.
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