With the preseason now over and the Knicks preparing to start their regular season in less than a week, the team must now trim their roster down to 15 players.
New York has 13 players under guaranteed contracts, which means two spots are up for grabs. Though the Knicks were able to bring Rasheed Wallace out of retirement, fellow invitee Chris Copeland made sure he wasn’t overshadowed by the veteran’s presence this month. The forward who played overseas last season averaged 15.5 points per game on 52% from the field in six contests.
Emerging as one of the best players on the entire squad this preseason, Copeland has undoubtedly done enough to deserve a roster spot, and a guaranteed one at that. That would leave Wallace, who failed to appear in a game all month, fighting with a bevy of younger yet inexperienced fellow hopefuls for the fifteen and final spot.
But is Wallace’s veteran presence enough to warrant him such an opportunity? He reportedly emerged as a leader during training camp and preseason play, returning to his vocal ways as he began to mentor young guns like Copeland. In the Knicks’ matchup with the Nets on Wednesday, Wallace appeared on the bench and was clearly animated all game long.
With Tyson Chandler joining an already banged up Knickerbocker front court that includes Amar’e Stoudemire and Marcus Camby, the team’s need for depth up front is glaring. Copeland surely looks like he could help fill the void(s), but another big body to muscle and tussle his way inside would help bolster the team’s frontline depth.
In need of filling such a void, can the Knicks count on Wallace to be ready to go by next week? The forward was originally recruited to the Big Apple to be nothing more than pure insurance when it came playoff time. But to actually make the postseason, New York needs to put a competitive squad on the court from the word “go.”
To do so, the Knicks need contributors who are ready to hit the hardwood and make an impact right away. The array of injuries they are currently faced with make that a cold hard fact.
There are benefits to keeping Wallace in the fold, but if the Knicks are going to continue taking a chance on him, he’ll have to pull his weight. He needs to be able to log minutes and provide the team with something they are unable to get from anyone else.
Former Georgetown big man Henry Sims may have been considered an outsider looking in when training camp began, he may very well be in position to squeeze right in by opening night. Assuming Copeland gets the spot he oh so deserves, expect the team’s final spot to be reserved for Wallace or Sims.
Whereas Wallace brings championship winning experience, knowledge, and a loud bark feared by many around the league, Sims provides the Knicks with a ready and able body. He’s proven to be a capable defender as someone who likes to crash the boards. As he fought for a spot over the last month, Sims further proved his hustle is tough to match.
If Wallace asserts he’s ready to go by opening night, perhaps the Knicks will take one more chance on him. That said, should there be any doubts, the team is otherwise in quite the vulnerable position. With their top three big men potentially sidelined on opening night, any big body able to eat up some minutes is necessary. Skilled enough as it is, Sims may find himself making the cut with New York, simply because of the fact that he’s healthy, more than anything else.