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' team plane receives bomb threat

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Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

BOSTON -- There was a bomb threat to the Boston Celtics’ team plane to Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon, but no one was injured.

The incident will be investigated by NBA security which will work in conjunction with the FBI on this matter which was one of several hoaxes called into airports across the country on Saturday.

News of the bomb threat was first known when Celtics forward Jae Crowder posted an Instagram photo showing players departing the plane with the caption, “BOMB THREAT ON US”.

Celtics officials declined to comment on the matter and instead referred all bomb threat-related questions to the league office.

Messages to the league office were not immediately returned.

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
 
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
 
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
 
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
 
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
 
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
 
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”