Stevens, Ainge look to make Wallace fit with C's

Stevens, Ainge look to make Wallace fit with C's
September 26, 2013, 5:00 pm
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BOSTON — In July when the Boston Celtics brought in the key pieces to their blockbuster trade with Brooklyn for a press conference, Gerald Wallace was not with them.

When the newest Celtics began to trickle into town earlier this month and immediately began to participate in the Celtics' various community service efforts, there was still no Wallace sighting.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge quipped that like many of us, he too was looking forward to seeing the 6-foot-7 forward.

A Wallace sighting appears to be on the horizon with C's coach Brad Stevens telling reporters Thursday morning at a Coaches vs Cancer breakfast event that Wallace was expected in town today.

"I've shared texts with him and talked with him real briefly," Stevens said. "I look forward to seeing him today."

And the Celtics wouldn't mind seeing him regain the form he had a couple years ago when he was one of the better high-energy, multiple-effort forwards in the NBA.

"I've obviously watched him play a lot of basketball," Ainge said. It's interesting ... Gerald got a good contract in Charlotte. He was their best player when they went to the playoffs. That led to a big payday for him."

Indeed, Wallace has played at a high enough level at seemingly every stop of his NBA career, and was rewarded each time with a lucrative, multi-year contract.

He is currently heading into the second year of a four-year, $40 million deal he signed with the Nets.

However, Wallace struggled most of last season and was among the players that Brooklyn was aggressively looking to move following their first-round exit last spring.

The length of Wallace's contract was arguably the biggest drawback for the C's when they traded away Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and D.J. White (he has since been waived) for Kris Humphries, Wallace, Keith Bogans,  Kris Joseph (he has since been waived) along with three unprotected first-round picks.

The fact that Wallace has taken longer than expected to connect with his new team, has led to speculation that he was unhappy with the trade.

But Ainge doesn't believe that will be an issue with Wallace.

"It's a nightmare trying to get a hold of players in the summertime," Ainge sad. "I was the same way when I was a player."

Ainge added, "It seems everywhere he's been, he's been well liked and well compensated and he's a good player. It wasn't a great fit for him in (Brooklyn) last year. We'll try and see if we can make it a better fit for us."

Known for his versatility, Wallace became a difference-maker defensively after the Charlotte Bobcats picked him up in the 2004 expansion draft after the Sacramento Kings made him available.

His reckless brand of basketball earned him the nickname "Crash" and maybe even more important, the respect of teammates, foes and fans.

Since the NBA began tracking blocked shots in 1973, Wallace became just the third person ever (Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson were the others) in 2006 to average at least two blocked shots and two steals in one season.

He was rewarded with a six-year, $57 million contract in 2007 which he then parlayed into his current deal.

However, Wallace's impact last season in Brooklyn was far from what he and those who have played with him, are used to.

Defensively he wasn't making nearly as many high impact plays as he had in previous seasons. And his scoring average dipped to just 7.2 points per game, the lowest since 2004.

Humphries believes part of Wallace's struggles had to do with the Nets' style of play changing.

Joe Johnson's nickname throughout NBA circles is "Iso Joe" because he has a tendency to keep the ball in his hands to create one-on-one, isolation-type situations.

That made Wallace more of a spot-up shooter which is not one of his strengths.

Wallace's ability to impact games was also limited because of the Nets' desire to establish more of a half-court game that centered around All-Star center Brook Lopez.

"Gerald's a player that can defend, he can get out in transition," Humphries said. "I'm thinking, I've been talking to coach (Stevens) about it a lot. We have to get out and run. He agrees with me. We're going to hit the offensive glass. We're going to run the floor. We're just going to try and be everywhere. I think Gerald plays well in that situation. More of a half court team like we were in Brooklyn last year, I don't know if that's really a strongsuit for him. But when the ball's getting up and down the floor, he's able to get out and do what he's done great his whole career."