The Boston Celtics have started the season 0-4, and it appears veteran forward Gerald Wallace is taking the early struggles the hardest.
Acquired by Boston in the trade that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn, Wallace told the Boston Herald he’s been through a rebuild before, and going through the process again is very frustrating after 14 NBA seasons.
“It’s hard,” Wallace said to The Herald. “It’s like starting from scratch zero with this team and trying to figure out what direction they’re headed in and what pieces they’re going to put together. For me, I’ve already been through that situation. I was on an expansion team in Charlotte. I’ve established myself. To have to start all over on a team that’s starting from scratch is very difficult.”
After trading arguably two of the storied franchise's greatest players, Boston was not expected to make any noise in the Eastern Conference, but it's clear the one-time All-Star is still expecting his young team to perform. Wallace was reportedly upset about Boston blowing a 22-point lead to Milwaukee in the home-opener last week, and then called his teammates selfish.
Wallace, who’s tallied career averages of 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.5 steals a game, also said he hasn’t asked for a trade, but the newspaper’s report says the Celtics have shopped him around the league.
What’s making any move difficult is the $20 million-plus and two years remaining on Wallace’s deal, which he signed with Brooklyn in 2012. Getting Wallace’s contract off the books would be a huge boon for Boston, considering they only have $48 million committed to player contracts next season.
The early slump under first-year head coach Brad Stevens could be largely attributed to the absence of All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, who is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in February. So far, the Celtics are 28th in the league in offensive efficiency and rebounding, and Rondo's return date is unknown.
At 6-foot-7 with lots of length, Wallace can guard both forward positions and any switches on pick-and-roll plays, services that could be better served on contending teams. He’s also leading the Celtics with 2.8 steals a game.
Lots of contending and rising teams in both conferences could afford to take on Wallace’s contract, but they might be hesitant to take on salary with the number of potential free agents hitting the market in the summer of 2014. The Indiana Pacers only have $49 million committed to next season and $24 million the next, and the San Antonio Spurs are comfortably under the cap this season at $63 million.