League says paperwork has not been filed

Updated: February 21, 2004, 2:59 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Rasheed Wallace and Mike James both made their debuts with the Pistons in the first half Thursday against the Timberwolves, but the team was told at halftime that neither would be allowed to play in the second half.

Wallace was stunned when coach Larry Brown broke the news at halftime.

"I went up to Rasheed and said, 'You and Mike can't play," Brown recalled. "He kind of laughed. I said, 'I'm serious.' He said, 'You're not serious.'

"We're on national TV, with all this attention, a full house, it's crazy it's not right."

Michelle Tafoya reported on ESPN's broadcast of the game that the Pistons were informed that Wallace and James could not play the second half in Detroit because of an agent certification issue.

"All the necessary paperwork was not received by the league," Pistons spokesman Matt Dobek said late in the third quarter. "It will probably be cleared up (Saturday)."

For a trade to be complete, paperwork for all the teams involved -- in this case the Pistons, Celtics and Hawks -- has to be filed with the league.

"I felt like they wasted all of our time," said Wallace, who had four points and two rebounds.

Kevin Garnett had 25 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves to their fifth straight victory, then he raved about Wallace and what he can do for the Pistons.

"Take it from the guy that has played against him for six or seven years, he gives them a big and different dimension," Garnett said. "This team is one of the best teams in the NBA, not just the East. They're coming out of the East."

In Miami where Atlanta was playing the Heat, the Hawks' acquisitions in the deal, Bob Sura and Zeljko Rebraca, were kept out of the game when the team was told by a league representative that none of the players involved in the trade should play.

When Wallace stepped on the court with 4:31 left in the first quarter, he was welcomed with a rousing, standing ovation.

"That showed me that they want me here and that showed basketball is alive and well in 'The D,"' Wallace said.

When he didn't return to the floor in the second half, fans started chanting "We Want Wal-lace!"

"I was saying, 'Me, too!' " Wallace joked.

Wallace played 12 minutes, hitting two of six shots for four points. James did not score in five minutes.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.