Ball Don't Lie - NBA

We've had a while to adjust to the idea of Rasheed Wallace(notes) on the current version of the Boston Celtics. And, if we're honest, we've gone back and forth on this quite a bit since attempting to put pen to paper on the idea sometime this weekend. It's just damned tough to try and assume anything with Rasheed Wallace. We have no idea how he'll play. 

We know how he could play. We know that he could come out inspired, guarding three positions, taking on all comers defensively, setting great screens, nailing open jumpers while heading to the post every so often. He has the talent, even at his advanced age, to turn a year better than Robert Horry(notes) could even in Horry's prime.

But you never know with 'Sheed. Actually, you did know last year. And that's what made his act so distasteful.

He dogged it. He waltzed through the entire season, not caring if his team won or lost.

A tough assumption to make without knowing the guy? Without knowing what was going on in his head? Without knowing what it feels like to drag your 34-year-old body through 66 games for a team you know isn't going anywhere?

No way. Rasheed knows he's best on the block. He didn't go there. He took awful shots, all season long. His rebound rate was barely better than Michael Beasley's;(notes) and this was a guy who was mainly asked to defend and rebound, as opposed to a rookie who was forced to play at small forward for spells. And Wallace was a sieve on defense.

Why was this galling? Well, besides the usual distaste for someone who is obviously loafing through a job that was paying him eight figures, it stung to watch Wallace among his peers.

We know why NBA players, despite the compensation, would sleep through games. It's a hard job. They're paid well, every whim is catered even on top of that salary (not only are these guys handed millions, but they're handed all sorts of stuff on top of that for free, right down to a catered dinner the day of a game from their employers), but they're also expected to just about have the best day of their professional lives 82 times a year. At least.

And that's why it was so tough to watch Rasheed mail it in last season. Because the overwhelming majority (more than that: let's put it at 95 percent of the league) at least made it seem like they were trying, even if they didn't care to, every night out. Wallace made no such attempt.

There was nothing rebellious or cool about his cause. He merely moped through the majority of his team's games, giving minimal effort, and it was as obvious and transparent as it was infuriating. Everyone else bothered to show up against Charlotte, or even San Antonio, save for 'Sheed. And now he gets to play with a team 13 months removed from a championship. After just about everyone on the team woos him, and he still takes a week or so to mull things.

And you know what? Though the Celtics have plenty of holes and lots to work on heading into 2009-10? Rasheed will probably help.

Yes, a burgeoning Kendrick Perkins(notes) might be the most exciting thing about this team heading into next season, Kevin Garnett(notes) should come back to remind us of what once was, and the squad could have done well to retain Glen Davis(notes) and keep Leon Powe(notes) (who will be an absolute monster by January) around, spending time and money on a jump-shooting 4/5 who really shoots too much wouldn't seem like the best move.

But because the team will use this summer to lick its wounds, with Perkins and Rajon Rondo(notes) improving, the move will pay off.

When you're dealing with Boston's scenario, working toward a ring and trying to win now, you can afford to pay for a roster that is built to defend certain parts. And the team is hoping to defend Rashard Lewis(notes) (and, possibly, LeBron James(notes) at power forward), about 11 months from now. And as much as I like Davis and Powe and would prefer Brandon Bass(notes) over Wallace 10 times out of 10 if I'm starting from scratch, none of those guys are chasing Rashard Lewis.

Hell, Rasheed Wallace might not chase Rashard Lewis. The guy couldn't be bothered to chase a snail through screens or defend the pick and roll properly last season. He mailed it in. I'm repeating things, I know, but the man deserves our scorn for that. He couldn't even make an attempt at covering it up.

But he could chase Rashard Lewis. And Bass/Powe/Davis, even at their best, weren't going to.

So, for the price and the roster makeup and the winning window, this works. You'd like to chide the C's for going for a name instead of going for a game, but a motivated Rasheed Wallace can help this team.

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