Amar’e Stoudemire. Marcus Camby. J.R. Smith. James White. Henry Sims.
These are just a few of the names of Knicks players who have experienced injuries over the duration of training camp this month. As the official start to the NBA regular season nears, there is more talk about the age of the Knickerbockers than the talent they are set to display on the hardwood.
Prepared to boast the oldest roster in NBA history, the team’s age is something difficult to ignore. Having said that, should the Knicks be able to back up their reasoning (with wins) for going with such an elder roster, all will be forgotten. A successful team trumps everything else.
But with so many NBA miles already on their bodies, it may prove difficult for some of New York’s players to hold up throughout the season. The absences of key players in the Knicks’ lineup may indeed prevent the team’s ability to win games.
And that’s exactly where the type of depth the team has assembled for the upcoming season will come in handy. Not simply depending on one sole player or even just their starters, the Knicks have solid contributors all throughout the rotation.
Rasheed Wallace has come to the Big Apple hoping to fill such a role for New York, though he too has his own agenda. Now two years removed from the league, the intimidating forward is returning to the NBA and aiming to prove he can still compete at the same level.
Having one of the most physical, animated, and gritty big men the NBA has seen in years at the end of your bench certainly can’t hurt. Even so, Wallace’s path to returning to full strength has already been a lengthy one. Limited in practice and scrimmages, the veteran has instead been using the last couple of weeks to work diligently on his conditioning, even going as far as using boxing to do so.
Wallace has come to New York on nothing more than a non-guaranteed contract. Hoping to find out he’s got some NBA fuel left in his tank, the Knicks’ early mentality around the forward is that if he’s able to be efficient enough in limited minutes, Wallace is still worth it.
But just how much will the team be able to limit the big man’s playing time? Wallace has been brought in merely as an insurance policy of sorts, but the early injuries members of the Knicks are already facing suggest ongoing injuries may ultimately end up becoming a continuous issue throughout the year.
If that turns out to be the case, where does Wallace’s situation stand? His past skill set and veteran experience would undoubtedly be major positive factors for the Knicks to keep him on board. That said, he needs to be able to carry his weight for solid enough rotation minutes. As it stands, should players like Stoudemire and Camby experience any lingering injuries in the near future, the team will need a quality player to step in.
Everything Wallace displayed and stood for in the past suggests he’s exactly the type of quality player the Knicks may be in need of. Whether or not he still has it, or rather, if he’ll be able to maintain it, remains to be seen.
Should Wallace be able to rise to the challenge, his signing will end up paying dividends for his new team. If he in fact falters, however, Wallace will not only fail to fill a potential void, but will also occupy a roster spot that could have instead gone to a ready and able body.
Basketball fans in the Big Apple fans are certainly rooting for Wallace, but if he truly wants to don and orange blue this season, he’ll have to be prepared to be more than just an insurance policy. The Knicks may end up needing his help more than anyone thinks.