Wallace's return to Celtics unlikely

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Wallace's return to Celtics unlikely

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON As we wait to see who will be the winner of the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, the NBA had another distraction of sorts this week.

Rasheed Wallace, the same Rasheed Wallace who called it quits after the Celtics' Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, the same Rasheed Wallace who confirmed his retirement to CSNNE.com back in August, has apparently had second thoughts.

Uh, not exactly.

Stephen A. Smith was on the Dan Patrick Show recently and said that Wallace told him that he was indeed planning to re-join the Celtics this season.

"Rasheed will come out of retirement, once the (Feb. 24) trading deadline expires in all likelihood," Smith said. "Because he wants another shot at the Lakers."

Smith added, "I'm telling you that's what Rasheed told me."

Well, there are a few - OK, a lot - of obstacles that, for now at least, makes Wallace's return highly unlikely.

Let's start with Smith's comments.

I have known Stephen A. Smith for a long time, so I have no doubt in my mind that there was a conversation between the two and Wallace expressed how he would love another crack at the Lakers.

But it was Smith's words afterward that, for me at least, put the whole Wallace-back-to-Boston talk, in perspective.

On his Twitter account shortly after the Wallace rumors began to pick up steam, Smith wrote, "Please don't go quoting about Rasheed Wallace return. All I said on DP's Show is that he said months ago he planned on coming out of retirement."

Months ago, this Celtics team didn't look like it does now.

Months ago, Wallace wasn't part of training camp and the bonds that are formed, for the first time in more than a decade.

For Wallace to have some moments of regret about retiring, to contemplate a return late in the season, made sense.

And as much as the C's loved what Wallace brought to the floor in the Finals, this franchise is not about waiting around for anyone.

So Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, did what any good NBA GM would do in the same position: He went about finding replacements.

He signed Jermaine O'Neal as a fill-in starter for Kendrick Perkins (hasn't quite worked out that way), but that still might not have been enough to dissuade Wallace from thinking about a return to the floor.

No one knew then just how good rookie center Semih Erden would be, which has given the Celtics even more frontcourt depth than they anticipated this season.

Still, he's a rookie.

Come playoff time, we'll hardly see him other than shooting around before games and after practice.

The C's finally added Shaquille O'Neal (Perkins' fill-in at center), which all but squashed any thoughts of a Wallace return.

When you throw in Perkins, who is expected to be back on the floor later this month and likely to resume his starting job shortly after, that gives the Celtics four centers. And that doesn't include Glen Davis who also moonlights from time to time at the five-spot.

Wallace, for as talented as he was when truly motivated, simply doesn't fit in here with all the bigs around.

If a couple of Boston centers suffer long-term injuries, we're talking about something entirely different. But short of that, don't expect to see Wallace back with the Green and White.

That's the logical explanation why a Wallace return is unlikely.

But it's the literal ramifications of his return that speak to how this just doesn't make a lot of sense for Boston.

The Celtics have 15 guaranteed contracts, the maximum allowed according to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Adding Wallace means cutting someone loose, with the most likely candidate being Von Wafer.

Here's the problem with that, aside from the obvious eating of his salary.

Wafer is a 6-foot-5 guard, playing a position that the C's don't have as much depth at as they would like at.

Getting rid of him to add a player at a position where the C's are already deep at, doesn't make a lot of sense.

Wallace's agent, Bill Strickland, told FanHouse that Wallace hasn't indicated to him of any plans of returning to the game.

"I don't think that's the case -- for now anyway," Strickland told FanHouse. "He has a period of time to where he may be thinking about it, but he has not given me any indication of his intent to return. ... He's still saying that for now he's good, that he's OK where he is."

In an interview a couple weeks ago with WEEI, Celtics president of Basketball operations Danny Ainge didn't sound like someone on the verge of carving out a roster spot for Wallace.

And coach Doc Rivers told CSNNE.com that "there has been no discussion" about bringing Wallace back into the mix.

So as much as some fans may pine for the Rasheed Wallace we saw in Game Seven of the Finals, a return to the roster is highly unlikely to happen.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

CLEVELAND – There are 240 minutes of play in an NBA game, but Boston’s 112-99 Game 4 loss to Cleveland came down to seven (six minutes and 46 seconds to be precise).

That would be the amount of time left in the second quarter that LeBron James spent on the bench with four personal fouls (a first for him in the first half of an NBA playoff game ever) and Boston ahead by 10 points.

Boston could not have asked for a better scenario than that, especially considering how well they had played up to that point in the game and again, knowing that James wasn’t about to set foot back on the court until the third quarter.

But here’s the problem.

Boston’s 10-point lead when James left with four fouls.

Halftime rolled around and Boston’s lead was still at just 10 points.

Celtics players agreed that not finding a way to increase their lead with James out was among the more pivotal stretches of play in Game 4.

“They did a really good job of not letting it (the 10-point lead) get out of control while he was on the bench,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told CSNNE.com. “Every time we scored, they came back and scored.  They answered back with everything we answered.”

While many will point to that stretch as a time when the Celtics failed to make the necessary adjustments to increase their chances of winning, it wasn’t as if the Cavs are a one-man team.

“They still have two All-Stars out on the court,” said Boston’s head coach Brad Stevens, referring to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. “With the best player in the world they go to unreal, but they’re still a pretty darned good team when those guys are out there.”

Irving had a playoff career-high 42 points which included him scoring 12 of Cleveland’s 14 points in the final 6:46 of the second with James on the bench.

“He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA, and you know, you can tell he puts in a lot of work in his game, a lot of respect from myself, my teammates,” said Avery Bradley. “We have to do a better job at defending him as a unit, trying to make everything hard on him. He definitely got a great rhythm going tonight, and I felt like we had a chance to make it harder on him.”

James still finished with a strong stat line for the night – 34 points, six assists, five rebounds and a blocked shot.

As good as he was on the court, the Celtics have to be kicking themselves for not doing more with the time James on the bench in the second quarter which in hindsight, was among the bigger factors in them now returning home facing elimination as opposed to being tied at two games apiece in this series.

“What are you going to do?” said Cleveland’s Kevin Love. “You have to continue to fight through it. At halftime, we were down 10. We made some adjustments on the defensive end and we just fought; we needed to. They got everything out of us tonight in that second half, but we played more inspired basketball as well.”

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

CLEVELAND – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Tuesday night’s Game 4 matchup between Boston and Cleveland which ended with the Cavs rallying for a 112-99 win. Boston now trails Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving

He was simply the best player on the floor by a mile in Game 4 as he tallied a career playoff-high 42 points with 21 coming in the pivotal third quarter.

LeBron James

Despite picking up four personal fouls in the first half – a first for him in a playoff game ever – James bounced back with a dominant performance. He finished with 34 points, 15 of which came in the decisive fourth quarter. He also had six assists and five rebounds.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He continues to be one of the more consistent Celtics in this series. In Game 4, he had 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting with eight rebounds and four assists.

Kevin Love

Most of Game 4, Kevin Love found ways to make life difficult for the Celtics. He ended up with a double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds with five assists and two blocked shots.

Avery Bradley

Boston’s Game 3 hero couldn’t deliver like that in Game 4, but Bradley still managed to score a team-high 19 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

 

DUDS

Boston’s sense of urgency

They had the Cavs in prime position to be beaten. But they didn’t play with the kind of effort and focus in the second half, that we saw through most of the first. And that 6:46 stretch in the second quarter when LeBron James was on the bench, and they didn’t increase their lead? That was a major, major factor in the game’s outcome.