Culture of Hoops

New York Knicks test Rasheed Wallace, lack youth

The New York Knicks kicked the tires on Rasheed Wallace recently, and presumably they’re still flat and tattered—the Knicks, that is. And maybe Wallace’s tires, too.

While we’re making assumptions, though, I will say Rasheed could probably help a few teams in the NBA out (superb defensive instincts and 82 inches of height don’t belong to just anybody). The Knicks just aren’t one of those teams.

What would help the Knicks? Youth. Athleticism. Speed. The drug of which nearly every contending NBA team gets high for good chunks of every game. The only squad that comes to mind that lacks that handful of young legs in rotation is the Miami Heat. But who’s stronger and faster than LeBron James and Dwyane Wade? And don’t say Carmelo Anthony.

It’s been the Knicks’ well-documented unofficial mantra this offseason: “Experience matters most.” And there’s not a lot to argue with there. Except for one minor tweak. Maybe, “Experience matters most, as long as you’ve got enough guys that can beat dudes like Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, and LeBron to the defensive end of the floor and then continue to try and stop those guys from scoring.” Now that’s a mantra.

The Knicks already have their Rasheed Wallace—a defensive positioning specialist whose lone remaining offensive weapon is a jumper—in Kurt Thomas. Neither of those guys are winning any wind sprints in practice these days. Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd, and Pablo Prigioni aren’t either. And while I’m resisting the nearly irresistible temptation to throw Amar’e Stoudemire in with this group of once-hads, he wasn’t exactly exploding off the hardwood last season like the STAT of old, but he’s still relatively young.

The true man for the power forward spot in New York has a very similar career rebounding average (6.3 to 6.7) to that of Wallace. And he just won an Olympic gold medal playing that very position. In the NBA, however, he plays small forward and to limited success… for the Knicks, actually.

It seems that the ouster of ex-GM Donnie Walsh has meant the worst of Knicks fans’ fears: final personnel decisions continue to be made by owner James Dolan—the same man with an admittedly limited knowledge of basketball—since his noted influence over the Anthony trade. One thing Dolan does possess the knowledge to accomplish, though, is making wads and wads of cash. He’s certainly done that and continues to do so, in fact.

The NBA season is long, and will seem even longer after last year’s 66er. There will be opportunities for the Knicks owner to land that much-needed youth over the course. Although, I’m afraid those opportunities might be hard for Dolan to see over all that green.

You can e-mail me at [email protected].


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