Wallace's return to Celtics unlikely


Wallace's return to Celtics unlikely

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.

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

With season over, time for Celtics to hit recruiting trail


With season over, time for Celtics to hit recruiting trail

BOSTON - So the Celtics are a first-round exit for the second straight season.

And if you watched any of their losses, it comes down to the most basic of reasons just why that is: they couldn't score.

In a game they needed to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Celtics shot 36.2-percent shooting from the field. It was even worse at halftime, as they could only muster up 33 points on 27.7-percent shooting from the field.

It's no secret that the C's won many of their games by outworking the opponent. They scratch, claw, and out-want the opponent, as cliche as all of that sounds. But it's true. When it comes to sheer talent, this hasn't been a team near the top.

Tack on a few key injuries and that became very apparent against the Hawks.

But all of that can be fixed this offseason, as Boston has a ton of cap space, a ton of draft picks and assets, and a young team that appears to be one or two players away from getting to that upper echelon, especially in the East.

So it's time for Isaiah Thomas and Co. to get out the "Why Playing for the Boston Celtics is Great" handbook (By Danny Ainge, presumably) and start knocking on doors.

So, what's their pitch?

"Our fans are amazing. This city is a sports town," Thomas said. "I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. When you do get to experience what Boston Celtics basketball is like, it’s like no other organization. As long as we keep getting better, hopefully guys will start to choose Boston as a city they want to play in.

Jae Crowder, who shared the podium with Thomas, shared his same feelings too.

"I think the same thing. It speaks for itself. The fans, the city and what it’s about," Crowder said. "Tradition [is] there, everything is there. We’re winning. We’re a young group that loves to win and go out there each and every night. We let that take care of itself."

One of the many reasons this loss hurt so much for this particular group is because they really came together. Just about every player in the locker room mentioned the camaraderie amongst themselves, and how hard that can be for an entire locker room to have. But it was easy to see that translate on the court as they stuck together and fought back from many deficits. It was also refreshing to see a team of players who weren't shy to speak candidly about what they needed to see from one other on the court, and that was led by Thomas.

“This team, we’re a team," Marcus Smart said. "One thing for sure that we’re going to do is always fight every game. And I think everybody likes to play with guys that are going to fight and compete every game.”

So let's see . . . fans, check. City, check. Tradition, check. Accountability, check. Team unity, check. It sounds like the Celtics are ready to hit the recruiting trail.

But Brad Stevens, though not asked the same question, may have offered one more reason a big-name free agent would want to take his talents to Boston: the will to get better.

"I think that from a big-picture perspective I feel good about our progress," Stevens said. "We have great opportunities to move forward with our future flexibility. And I think that over time, though [Thursday] is sour and you have a sour feeling about it, this will make guys more encouraged to get in the gym. I mean, this is – for young guys, sour’s not all bad, right? Because it’s like me, I’m going to go home and watch what I can do different. I know that. And I hope that our guys feel the same way. They need to take some time off, but after that, let’s get better.”