By A. Sherrod Blakely
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.