Al Iannazzone joined Newsday in January 2012 as the Knicks’ beat writer, after covering the NBA for 11
When Rasheed Wallace signed a non-guaranteed deal, there was little doubt he would make the Knicks.
Mike Woodson, an assistant on the 2004 Pistons team that Wallace helped win the NBA title, would not have talked 'Sheed into returning to the NBA if he didn't plan on keeping him and using him. Besides, Wallace remains a crafty, intelligent, physical player who has helped his teams win throughout his career and can still do that.
Yet no one really knew what to expect from Wallace, 38, after his two-year layoff for personal reasons. No one but Wallace, who stayed in relatively good game condition by playing pick-up games at North Carolina.
"I took two years off from the NBA," Wallace said. "I didn't take two years off period. That's what a lot of people think but I didn't."
Wallace will get minutes throughout the season, and his voice will be among the strongest whether he's on the bench or on the court. He's always talking, encouraging his teammates, as well as jawing with the opponents and the officials.
"He's been big for us, in practice and in the locker room, on the plane and the bus, him just being very vocal, him knowing what it takes to win basketball games," Carmelo Anthony said. "He's always in the gym helping the bigs out. We're trying to form that tight bond. Rasheed is one of the guys spearheading it."
Wallace will be of most help for the Knicks in the playoffs. That's when you expect his minutes to increase, and his experience to really come to the forefront. Few active players outside of Kobe Bryant and the Big Three in San Antonio have enjoyed as much playoff success as Wallace.
He ranks third among active players in postseason games with 177, behind Bryant and Tim Duncan. Wallace has won a ring, been to three NBA Finals and his teams have made the conference finals six of the last seven years his teams have reached the playoffs.
That's not by coincidence and it's a good sign for the Knicks, who haven't won a playoff series since 2000.
Blast from the post
Although Wallace is a good three-point shooter, he takes pride in scoring in the post. He has shown he can still post up and hit a turnaround jumper. It's a lost art to Wallace. "There's no more posting up in this league," said Wallace, who added that he spoke with coach Mike Woodson about the subject in the offseason. "That's one thing Woody and I were talking about before, when I was thinking about coming up -- 'Hey, beat them up in the post.'"
Raising Kidd's jersey
If Jason Kidd finished his career in Dallas, his number would be retired. Now it's up for debate, and not just because a scorned Mark Cuban said he wouldn't raise Kidd's number after he joined the Knicks.
Kidd helped Dallas win its only NBA title, but his best years were as a Net.
"I don't play for the jersey," Kidd said. "I play for my teammates."
Kidd's split from the then-New Jersey Nets was much messier than his last-minute decision to leave Dallas for the Knicks. Kidd forced his way out of Jersey. Still, the Nets HAVE TO retire Kidd's jersey in Brooklyn some day.
The Nets reached two NBA Finals, won four Atlantic Division titles and made the playoffs in each of Kidd's six full seasons. They haven't sniffed the playoffs since.
Kidd led them to 43 playoff wins and nine series victories. The Nets won nine playoff games and just one series their other 30 years in the NBA.
Whatever happens in Dallas happens, but No. 5 should hang in Brooklyn.
Amar'e Stoudemire isn't the only current or former All-Star who has had a rough start to the season. Dirk Nowitzki had knee surgery. Steve Nash has a small leg fracture. Kevin Love broke a hand. Andrew Bynum has been sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury and Danny Granger is out at least three months with a knee issue.
That means the Knicks won't face Nowitzki this season. (They beat Dallas without him Friday.) The Knicks also won't see Granger in at least two of their four meetings. They might miss Love once, and Nash is unknown at this point. The Knicks already have played the 76ers twice without Bynum.
A couple of players from the area were mentioned in the annual NBA GM Survey.
North Babylon native Danny Green of the Spurs received votes for "Which player makes the most of limited natural ability?" Kevin Love and Shane Battier were the top two vote getters.
Under "Which active player will make the best head coach someday?" Brooklyn-born Hofstra product Charles Jenkins of the Warriors was mentioned. The top two finishers in that category were Chauncey Billups and Battier.