The strange story of the New York Knicks and Rasheed Wallace seems to be taking its first positive turn since it was announced that the team had signed Wallace to a non-guaranteed contract 22 days ago.
Wallace hasn’t played in any of the Knicks five preseason games due to still working on his conditioning, but Wallace participated in all team drills and a few individual drills on Tuesday, doing his most extensive work since joining the Knicks.
There’s still no telling when “Sheed will suit up for the Knicks, but he’s expected to take a big step toward getting on the floor Friday when he scrimmages with the rest of the team.
Mike Woodson said after practice on Tuesday (per ESPN’s Ian Begley) that Wallace will not play in the Knicks’ preseason finale against the Nets on Wednesday, but he should start scrimmaging on Friday.
“We’re going to start to get some contact in … and try to test him a little bit there and see where he is,” Woodson said. “And then (we’ll) go from there. Today was the first day that he actually ran with the team and did all the conditioning [and] running that we do at the top of practice. That was kind of nice to see.”
Originally, Wallace’s signing was seen as somewhat of a low-risk, high-reward investment for the Knicks. The team signed him to a non-guaranteed veteran’s minimum contract with the idea that he could play his way into shape by the time the playoffs rolled around.
But now, the Knicks might need Wallace much sooner. Amar’e Stoudemire is out two to three weeks with a ruptured cyst in his left knee, and Marcus Camby is day to day with a calf injury. Wallace has increased his conditioning workload in recent days, although that was likely to happen whether Stoudemire was hurt or not.
On Tuesday, he and J.R. Smith (Achilles) did extra full- and half-court shooting drills with a team trainer on a side court while the rest of the Knicks worked in half-court sets. Afterward, Wallace noted that he’s made great strides with his conditioning since he signed with the team Oct. 3.
“It’s improved tremendously,” the 38-year-old said. “When I first came in, I was in good shape but it wasn’t basketball shape. I could go out there and run a couple miles. But now, getting in basketball shape, it’s more sprint and stop, sprint and stop. Almost like a car, city driving: stop and go, stop and go. So that’s what I just have to do.”
Woodson isn’t ready to commit to a timetable for Wallace, but given how thin the Knicks suddenly are up front, hopefully it is just a matter of time before Wallace is suiting up on game nights.
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