By R.L. Bynum
Rasheed Wallace joined the Memphis staff of head coach Penny Hardaway in the offseason but now is in “a consultant’s role,” Hardaway said on Wednesday.
Hardaway said that Wallace’s absence is a mutual decision based on “health and safety” concerns, according to The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. That suggests that COVID-19 was a factor but it’s not clear. Wallace was in health-and-safety protocols and missed the last six games.
“Rasheed is actually still with us,” Hardaway said. “He was in health and safety protocols and now he’s more in a consultant’s role. Still talk to him all the time. He talks with the bigs about the next game and about what’s going on through Zoom and he just doing everything remotely now.”
It’s not clear if there is a rift between Wallace and Hardaway, who was asked if he expected Wallace back on the bench this season.
“Right now I would say no,” Hardaway said. “I don’t know about what happens later in the season, but he’s still a part of who we are, you know, talking to him and him looking at game film and looking at our practices as well. And staying in touch with the bigs.”
Larry Brown remains on the Memphis coaching staff as a full participant.
Junior center Jaren Duren, sounded happy with Wallace’s influence.
“Definitely a guy with a lot of energy and was a great mentor for the bigs when he was here and I definitely learned a lot from him,” Duren said.
Memphis (9–7, 3–3 AAC), sixth in the AAC after losing at Central Florida and at East Carolina, faces SMU (13–4, 4–1) Thursday night at 7 (ESPN2).
Wallace was an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons for the 2013–14 season and was head coach at Durham’s Jordan High School from 2019 to 2021.
Wallace was a consensus All-American at UNC in 1995, a four-time NBA All-Star and won an NBA title in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons.
Hardaway is in his fourth season as head coach after the Tigers went 20–8 last season, finished third in the AAC and won the NIT.
Photo via @Memphis_MBB