The Garden chant will soon return. Rasheed Wallace surprisingly could play for the first time since mid-December tonight when the Knicks visit Charlotte, coach Mike Woodson said yesterday.
There have been so many false alarms with the 6-foot-11 Wallace, who had foot surgery in late February. If Wallace doesn’t play tonight, he is expected to play in the Knicks’ regular-season finale against Atlanta Wednesday and certainly for the playoffs that start Saturday versus Boston.
Wallace, 38, is significantly ahead of schedule. He did a strenuous workout yesterday on the Garden floor before yesterday’s 90-80 win over the Pacers. According to Woodson, Wallace will make the determination this morning if he is ready for a Charlotte cameo.
“He’s been on the floor running a few days,’’ Woodson said. “After today’s workout, if he checks out [tomorrow], we’ll see. If he doesn’t, we’ll have another day to prepare for the Atlanta game. If not, for sure the playoffs.’’
After coming out of a two-year retirement, Wallace has been out with a stress reaction that developed into a stress fracture after he tried to press it in January. He had surgery on what the club labeled a full-blown Jones fracture in late February, after which the club said he would miss eight weeks. Premature reports had him done for the season.
The coaching staff regards him as more vital than Amar’e Stoudemire because of his defensive IQ and ability to knock down a 3-pointer.
“I think it will be huge for us as a team to get those minutes under his belt,’’ Jason Kidd said of Wallace. “He understand how to play the game, get him up and down the court in game situations. That’s the biggest thing.’’