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.

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

Blakely: Celtics made the right choice in not pursuing Cousins

NEW ORLEANS -- There will be a significant faction of Celtics Nation who will see DeMarcus Cousins’ trade to New Orleans as a lost opportunity for the C's, who could have offered a much more enticing trade package than the one the Sacramento Kings accepted.
 
The Kings received nothing even remotely close to a king’s ransom for Cousins, acquiring him in exchange for rookie Buddy Hield, journeyman Langston Galloway and ex-Pelican Tyreke Evans (who has never been the same since his Rookie of the Year season in 2010), along with a protected first-round pick and a future second-round selection.

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While the knee-jerk reaction is to focus on why Boston decided to not pursue a trade for Cousins, more important is what the non-decision means for the moment and going forward.
 
Think about what the Celtics have done in the last three-plus seasons.
 
They went from being a lottery team to one that has the second-best record in the East. They're holding the potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft; at worst, the pick will be in the top four or five. They have three of the most team-friendly contracts (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder) in the NBA. They have promising prospects overseas as well as in the D-League. And they're led by a coach who has improved his coaching acumen -- and the team’s win total -- every year he's been on the job.
 
And it's all enveloped by a culture with a high level of selflessness, which has created a locker-room environment that has been more about fighting for each other than fighting one another or others off the court.
 
Do you really think Cousins’ talent would have trumped the baggage he'd be bringing to the Celtics if they'd acquired him?
 
For him to have fit in with this team would have required him to make the kind of changes that, frankly, I just don’t see him being capable of making at this point.
 
On more than one occasion, “not fitting in” with the Celtics culture was given to me as the reason why a Cousins-to-Boston trade never gained any traction with the team’s brass. Or coaching staff, for that matter.
 
While there's no denying that he's arguably the best center in the NBA, Cousins is a high-risk, high-reward talent that makes sense to pursue if you're a franchise which has nothing to lose by adding him to the mix. Like, say, New Orleans.
 
The Pelicans are 11th in the Western Conference despite having Anthony Davis, who has been asked to carry the weight of a franchise that has yet to figure out the best combination of talent to surround him with and find success.
 
The addition of Cousins not only provides Davis some major help, but serves as a reminder of just how desperate the Pelicans are.
 
While there are mixed reports on whether the package of assets the Kings agreed to was the best they could have received for Cousins, there was no way they were going to get anything close to comparable talent in exchange for him.
 
And that was solely due to the risk that any team was willing to take on in order to acquire him.
 
At some point, the Celtics need to take advantage of an opportunity to go all-in for a superstar player. But this was not that time, or that player.

Blakely: Pelicans form arguably the best frontcourt with Cousins-Davis

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A. Sherrod Blakely breaks down the DeMarcus Cousins trade to the New Orleans Pelicans