With the Celtics dealing with injuries, and the Cavs running out of steam this past June, the Magic swooped in as the Eastern Conference champs. While the fame must be nice while it lasts, both the Cavs and Celtics have attempted to find solutions to combat Dwight Howard.
The Celtics’ solution comes in the form of league bad boy Wallace, who spent the last five and a half seasons in Detroit.
While Wallace may not be the physical force that Shaq or Howard is, he will team up with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to form what is likely to be the league’s most intense frontcourt.
The team sent out of a committee to reel in Wallace, with Garnett, Ray Allen, Pierce, owner Wyc Grousbeck, coach Doc Rivers, and President Danny Ainge all meeting with him last week.
They were obviously all convincing enough.
Before joining the Pistons in mid-2004, Wallace had played a starring role on losing teams in Washington, Portland and Atlanta. In Detroit, he joined an already successful ensemble and experienced winning a championship for the first time in his career.
But now, that success has come and gone in Detroit, and Wallace has found himself a free agent.
He's not looking to be a star, just for championship ring.
With Garnett, Pierce, and Allen all making close to, if not full, maximum salaries, the Celtics only had its mid-level exception (MLE) to offer. The MLE is estimated to be somewhere around $5.6-5.8 million, which is a considerable pay cut from the $13.93 million Wallace made last season.
The chance at another ring obviously was worth more to him, as he is expected to sign a two-year pact once he's eligible to do so.
Even with the addition of Wallace, the Celtics may not be done in gearing up for another championship run. Coach Doc Rivers, who previously coached free agent Grant Hill on the Magic, was said to have been meeting with Hill at his home in Orlando to discuss the possibility of Hill signing with Boston for the team’s biannual $1.9 million exception.
After struggling with various season ending injuries for what seemed like an eternity, Hill revamped his career with the Suns and has gained credibility as one of the most reliable role player starters in the league, even playing in all 82 games for the first team in his fourteen year career just this past season.
As positive as these moves would be for the Celtics, it may also have some repercussions. Leon Powe and Glen Davis, two core big men from the team’s 2007-08 championship run, are both free agents.
Powe’s season ended due to a knee injury, and therefore the offers may not be pouring in, as he just had the surgery on May 5th. He may be more inclined to re-sign a shorter contract with Boston to redeem himself and prove he deserves a considerable raise.
However, the same cannot be said for Davis, who is being courted by numerous teams. Rumor has it that the Spurs, whom Wallace spurned to sign with Boston, are prepared to offer the team’s full MLE, which was originally meant for Wallace, to Davis. Unlikely to match an offer like that, Boston would lose out on retaining its young big man.
In the end, Boston has to come to terms that they going tit for tat with the other teams in the Eastern Conference, each team trying to match or even outdo the move the other team has made.
Even if it means sacrificing some of its youth, there's no question the Celtics are playing for the present with a championship once again in close grasp.