This season is killing Gerald Wallace—or at least slapping him ridiculously hard in the face.
Nicknamed "Crash" for his tenacious defense and once-reckless approach to the game, Wallace finds himself on the tanking Boston Celtics, and it's driving him insane.
"This season is a slap in the face, having to change my game and fine-tune it," he said, per The Boston Herald's Mark Murphy.
Slapping at what, exactly? His pride? Health? Patience?
As he told Murphy:
You’re sitting, only playing 17 or 18 minutes a game. You’re watching, you know you can still play, and you watch guys in front of you who don’t play with effort, don’t respect the game and don’t think team first. It kind of frustrates you and (ticks) you off. You have to deal with it.
First of all, it has to come mentally. You accept your situation, but there’s two sides to your brain. One side is fighting the other side because of the predicament you’re in. You feel you can still perform at the level you always have, but at the same time, you’re doubting yourself.
Wallace's frustration is nothing new. He's made it his business to call out the Celtics on just about every mistake they've made.
Before the regular season even started, Wallace took issue with his team's will, per The Boston Globe's Baxter Holmes, saying that his teammates were "not playing with effort" and certain guys were "out there being selfish."
That was the preseason—when the games didn't even count. Imagine what he would say when the outcomes actually mattered.
Actually, we don't have to.
I'm very surprised. Right now, we're the team that's all talk. We talk about how we want to get better. We talk about things we need to do to get better. It's easy to go out and practice and do it. Practice doesn't really apply to anything with making yourself better. When they turn them lights on, when it really counts, when it's about the team and making the team better and trying to win as a team, we don't do it.
Less than halfway through the season, it's become clear that Wallace's contract is the only thing keeping him in Boston.
Crash is owed $20.2 million through 2015-16, not including the $10.1 million he's bringing home this season. At 31 and posting nightly averages of 3.9 points and 3.2 rebounds in 22.1 minutes per game, his value isn't what it once was—not with his contract.
Such is the danger when veterans play for a team in transition.
Wallace was traded from the Brooklyn Nets to Boston so he didn't have a say in the matter. He signed in Brooklyn under the guise that he would be competing for a title, not forfeiting his role as an everyday starter for the first time since 2003-04, when he was only 21.
"Thrown into the back seat" is how he describes his situation these days, per Murphy.
And he's right.
Playing for a Celtics team that doesn't need him, and with a contract that few—if any—teams would want, Wallace is a misfit left to spend much of his time on the bench while coping with a reality that he neither envisioned nor wanted.
Salary information courtesy of ShamSports.