It’s like the opening day of a major trade show, except it is the most exclusive trade show in America.
If you had any doubt that former Piston Rasheed Wallace is the Celtics’ biggest priority in this off season, you can eliminate that thought from your head.
Pouring out of their combat helicopter, led by no less than co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, Executive Director of Basket Operations (Shouldn’t omnipotent or omniscient be in that title somewhere?) Danny Ainge, Head Coach Glenn Rivers, former MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Kevin Garnett, 2008 Finals MVP and Celtic icon, Paul Pierce, and Hall of Fame bound Ray Allen took up a reconnaissance position around the domicile.
First, making sure no enemy forces from the rogue nation of San Antonio, nor east coast powers Cleveland nor Orlando were within sight, the quick strike force slowly moved in. Making eye contact and nodding to each other, they made a coordinated move on their target destination. Using utmost caution, they belly crawled until Fortress Wallace was in sight.
Seeing that it was safe, Gregg Popovich was nowhere to be seen, they rise and walk the final yards and ring the doorbell. After rehearsing back in Boston for hours, they are ready to make their pitch. Here is what we can offer. Here is what you offer. Here is how we see you fitting in.
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reports that they met for a three hour period…
"Solid, thorough, cogent and very impressive," Wallace's agent, Bill Strickland, told SI.com about Boston's recruiting trip. "[They] definitely gave Rasheed and his wife something to think about."
So the Celtics were prepared and aggressive with their number one option, thanks to some early convincing by Rasheed’s friend and basketball counterpart, Kevin Garnett.
While a number of internet sources are suggesting that Boston now has the inside track to land Wallace, when he signs is when I’ll believe it.
Rasheed’s agent said that they will entertain all offers before deciding. The Celtic’s offer is reported to be for the MLE ($5.8 mil approx.) for 2 years. Previously, Rasheed said that he would retire if he didn’t get at least $8 mil per year. With teams now mostly in a financially constrictive mode, that looks impossible to get from a true contender (another Wallace requirement). Ah, compromise.
But consider this. If San Antonio also offers Wallace the MLE amount, it might not be so automatic that Wallace comes to Boston.
Spurs’ Killer Line Up
If Wallace joins the Spurs, their starting line up will be Wallace at center, Tim Duncan (PF), Richard Jefferson (SF), Manu Ginobili (SG), and Tony Parker (PG). That line up takes a back seat to no team in the NBA and might even make the Spurs the new favorites to win the title. That is a devastating line up.
It may also come down to the number of years offered. Would Boston extend their offer to three years, if that is what it takes to land him? James Posey is listening. Leon Powe is listening. Glen Davis is listening. Danny becomes the new E.F. Hutton.
Boston offers Wallace a significant role, but as a player coming off the bench, one is assuming. Though I’m sure that, if that is the sticking point, the Celtics might consider starting Wallace and have Perkins come off the bench. It works either way, if they could sell that to Kendrick. Perkins is a team player, and I would envision him acquiescing, though possibly with some reluctance. Even the humblest players have egos.
Would they ask that of one of their most loyal (and now bargain priced) players? I’m not getting ahead of the game, just looking at potential turns in the road.
Rasheed is said to be considering all the Celtics strong personalities. That is kind of ironic from such a strong willed individual himself. But perhaps not. Could his friendship with Garnett withstand the pressures of an 82 game season locked in against at least three other super teams?
Even the best of friends would have to weigh the cost carefully. Friendships must endure special stresses and tests in situations like that. Both Garnett and Wallace are emotional players. Make that – very emotional players. In fact, they are arguably the two most emotional players in the NBA. Both are tough as nails. The yin and yang of that would be something to watch as the year unfolds.
Another thought to consider:
If Wallace doesn’t respond to the Celtics’ massive entreaty – How does supposed Celtic number two priority veteran big man, Antonio McDyess, respond to that?
Will that impact his decision-making? Could such a highly public effort backfire in trying to sign the plan B player, when that plan B player is getting plan A efforts from other title contending teams? McDyess has slipped through Danny’s fingers at least twice before.
I’m not putting Danny in a ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ position. But I am of the opinion that maybe they should have approached both McDyess and Wallace with equal gusto. Unless they have gotten solid vibes on an early commitment with Rasheed, which doesn’t appear to be the case, then why not make serious efforts on two fronts?
Make their case to both players. They have apparently lost out on other players (Dikembe Mutombo, Chris Anderson) by waiting on certain other players, only to end up with Mikki Moore.
There could be other unknown reasons. Maybe they aren’t getting a good vibe from the McDyess camp.
On the other hand, it could be said that they didn’t wait long enough for Joe Smith or Drew Gooden, as well. But could Danny know that? I don’t see how he could have. Without knowledge of a firm commitment, shouldn’t you be covering all your bases?
There is no doubt that this is a fascinating time of year. Danny has to make some tough decisions. Powe. Davis. Rondo. Ray.
But I’m just wondering if they haven’t been led slightly askew by the enthusiasm of their star forward.
I have nothing against Rasheed. I’ve always enjoyed his personality and his game. If he comes, he helps the Celtics big time. But I think the same thing of Antonio McDyess. If Rasheed goes elsewhere and so does McDyess, I’ll wonder if they might not have landed one of them by doing things a bit differently to start with.
It’s nothing to panic over. If that happens, then all eyes turn to players like Chris Wilcox, Drew Gooden, and Zaza Pachulia. Not quite the same thing, but still improvements for the Green Team, if Danny lands one.
I don’t know what Danny knows. I’m hoping that Kevin Garnett, said to be a catalyst on this, knows something that we don’t.
It will be fun. Stay tuned for further developments.