Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/25/13
Back in July when the Boston Celtics formally introduced the players acquired from the Brooklyn Nets as part of this summer’s nine-player blockbuster swap small forward Gerald Wallace was absent excused from the press conference to attend the start of his youth basketball camp in his native Alabama. Seventy-three days later with training camp less than a week away the former All-Star still hasn’t made an appearance at his new basketball home. So when a reporter noted to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge on Tuesday that Wallace remains an intriguing figure because he hasn’t spoken to the media Ainge smiled and offered “I’m right there with you. I’m anxious to meet Gerald.” The two crossed paths briefly a lifetime ago when Wallace was a fresh-faced rookie in Sacramento and Ainge was doing TV work. Now Ainge is presiding over his second Boston rebuild and 31-year-old Wallace is the heftiest contract on his books (three years $30.3 million). “I haven’t had much conversation with him. He’s really the only one” said Ainge. “He’ll be in town I think next week.” The Celtics open camp in Newport R.I. on Oct. 1. Media day when all players are typically available to reporters is one day earlier at the team’s training facility in Waltham. Now don’t misconstrue. This doesn’t appear to be any sort of holdout situation. Ainge said it’s often difficult to track down players in the offseason particularly veterans noting “It’s a nightmare trying to get ahold of the players in the summertime. I was the same way when I was a player.” But with just about everyone else on Boston’s roster dropping by the team’s practice facility in recent weeks and others returning early for informal workouts Ainge is most certainly eager to sit down with a player that’s due to earn $10.1 million next season. It’s not an understatement to say that the speed at which the Celtics will navigate this rebuild/transition process hinges a great deal on Wallace. Boston needs him to play well regardless of whether he spends three years here or not. For his part Ainge seems hopeful the Celtics can help rekindle Wallace’s game. “I obviously have watched him play a lot of basketball” said Ainge. “It’s interesting Gerald was a guy that got a good contract in Charlotte was their best player when they went to the playoffs [during the 2009-10 season] and that led to a big payday for him. He was traded for two first-round picks to Portland [and] played very well in Portland to the point where New Jersey wanted to give away [the No. 3 pick] Damian Lillard to get him. And then New Jersey wanted him back enough to pay him a very lucrative contract. “It seems that everywhere he’s been he’s been well-liked and well compensated. He’s a good player. It wasn’t a great fit for him in [Brooklyn] last year but we’ll try to make it a better fit for us.”
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