Monday, July 8, 2013

Sheed's Back!!

Rasheed Wallace joins Pistons as an assistant coach

The walls of the Detroit Pistons practice facility are covered with blue boards listing team accomplishments dating from the Fort Wayne (Ind.) championships of the 1940s to Andre Drummond's selection to the 2013 All-Rookie Second Team.

Almost hidden among the achievements of George Yardley, Dave Bing, Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas, Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups is one board tucked in a corner that honors a slightly more dubious distinction.

"Most technical fouls, career: Rasheed Wallace, 317."

Guess what, refs? He's coming back for more.

Wallace, who once got 41 technicals in one season, is joining the Pistons as an assistant coach. He was on the bench for Monday's Summer League game in Orlando, looking stylish in a Pistons polo and shorts, and the team is expected to make it official in the next few days.

Wallace, who will turn 39 just before training camp, retired after playing 21 games this past season with the New York Knicks.

Of course, Wallace also retired after the 2009-10 season with the Boston Celtics, sitting out two years before his comeback with New York. But he apparently intends to make it stick this time.

Rumors started on Draft Day that he was going to join the Pistons as an assistant coach, and now he's in Orlando with Maurice Cheeks -- his former coach in Portland -- and a team starring Kentravious Caldwell-Pope, Tony Mitchell, Peyton Siva and Kyle Singler.

At first, this seems crazy. Do the Pistons really want the player who forced the NBA to put limits on technical fouls onto their bench? Isn't that just asking for trouble?

Probably not. Remember, when the NBA put in rules limiting the number of technicals you could get before a suspension, Wallace changed his behavior. Yes, he still got more than anyone else, but he wasn't spending weeks on the bench as everyone expected.

He's smart enough to know that he can't get Cheeks and the team into trouble by constantly getting on officials from the bench.

If Wallace didn't seem like the coaching type during his playing days, consider the Bad Boys. In every NBA city other than Detroit, fans thought of Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn as thugs who happened to be in a basketball uniform.

But Laimbeer turned into the best coach and general manager in WNBA history. He did most of it with Mahorn at his side.

Like them, Wallace has always been a player who hides his high basketball IQ behind an image and playing style designed to irritate everyone other than his coach and teammates.

That's what he wants to share -- the skills and knowledge that he learned in a 16-season career.

"It would be a shame if I passed away and wasn't able to pass that on to my kids or to any ballplayer who wants that knowledge," Wallace told the Detroit News on Monday.

So put aside Rasheed's antics, his "both teams played hard" mantra and his endless shouts of "Ball don't lie!" Forget about the technical fouls and his issues with the Jail Blazers in Portland.

Think instead about him as a basketball player. A 6-foot-10 post player who played great defense, blocked shots and rebounded the ball on one end of the floor. He could also score almost 20 points a night if his team needed it, or could be a passer if that fit the role his coach asked him to fill.

Just as important, remember that he could more than hold his own in the post, then slide out to the 3-point line to stretch the defense and knock down a key shot.

Wallace won't be working with the Pistons to teach Brandon Knight to play point guard, or to show Josh Smith and Caldwell-Pope how to run the break. His job will be to work with Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Viacheslav Kravtsov.

It's probably asking too much that he turn Drummond into a 3-point threat, but if Wallace can help him develop a decent post offense, Drummond could be an All-Star before he's old enough to drink..

Wallace could also help Monroe with his shooting, something that has regressed during his three seasons in the league. If Wallace can get Monroe back to shooting 55 percent from the floor, which he did as a rookie, and add a little range to his jumper, it would help properly space an offense that currently looks to be too focused on scoring in the paint.

If you only think about Wallace as a guy who yelled at the officials and said silly things in press conferences, you will be excused for thinking this is a move designed to sell a ticket or two.

If, on the other hand, he's serious -- and there are times that he's extremely serious -- Wallace has the know-how to fill in the gaps in Monroe and Drummond's games.

That would be worth the risk of the odd technical coming from the wrong end of the Pistons bench.

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