SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Nets finally have their veteran swingman back.
Gerald Wallace will officially make his return to the lineup Sunday when the Nets square off against the Kings here in Northern California at Sleep Train Arena. The small forward has missed the past six games as he recovered from a sprained left ankle suffered in the Nov. 3 season opener versus the Raptors.
Wallace will start, but coach Avery Johnson said he’ll be on minutes restriction.
“He’s very important to our whole program,” Johnson said. “It’s good to have him back in the lineup tonight. Just defensively, he helps us in transition, halfcourt defense, pick-and-roll defense. Offensively, he helps us in a variety of ways. He can post up, he can make a perimeter shot.
“He can quarterback our team when we want to get some of our other guys off the ball. He’s a good screener. He’s very important to our team.”
There was a thought last week that Wallace was going to go in Thursday’s game versus the Celtics. But Johnson said they didn’t feel comfortable trotting Wallace out there at that point.
“He wasn’t ready to play on Thursday,” Johnson said. “So, we gave him a chance to get treated on Friday. He practiced yesterday and recovered pretty Ok. Right now, it’s just going to be a day-to-day deal with him and we’ll see how he recovers in practice tomorrow.”
So what did Johnson learn most about his team while Wallace was out?
“That we really need him,“ he said with a hearty laugh. “There were times man, when I just wanted to call his name and he just wasn’t available. But again, he gives us an opportunity to give defenses and offenses different looks.
“He’s not going to be a perfect player tonight. But hopefully, he’ll get through this game and we won’t have any setbacks and then we’ll see where he is tomorrow or the next day.”