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Wallace offered contract

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By Frank Dell’Apa and Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / July 3, 2009
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The Celtics are putting a full-court press on Rasheed Wallace.

Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce joined president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and managing partner Wyc Grousbeck for a three-hour meeting with Wallace in Detroit yesterday, the Celtics offering a contract using their midlevel exception. But Wallace is apparently in no hurry to respond, preferring to weigh approaches from Charlotte, Cleveland, Orlando, and San Antonio, according to an NBA source.

Bill Strickland, Wallace’s agent, said in a text message that it was a “very good meeting; some contractual terms discussed, nothing agreed to.’’

Strickland added Wallace will be “meeting with a few more teams next week.’’

Wallace is coming off a five-year contract with the Pistons, earning $13.68 million last season. The teams courting Wallace would be offering the midlevel exception, worth between $5.6 million and $5.8 million. So, Wallace’s choice will be based on other factors, and the Celtics believe they have an advantage because of the forward’s relationship with Garnett and the team’s good chance to compete for a championship.

Among the factors in Wallace’s decision would be his willingness to play a complementary role. Wallace, who turns 35 Sept. 17, has been a starter, for the most part, since his first season, 1995-96, with Washington.

Wallace joined the Pistons late in the 2003-04 season, helping them win the championship. The Pistons lost to San Antonio in the 2005 NBA Finals, then lost three successive Eastern Conference finals. After the ’08 playoff defeat to the Celtics, Wallace said, “It’s over,’’ indicating he expected the Pistons to begin rebuilding.

But the Pistons kept their core largely together last season and were eliminated by Cleveland in four games in the first round of the playoffs. Wallace, who can play the low post and also has exceptional shooting range, averaged 12 points in 66 regular-season games but slumped to 6.5 points per game in the playoffs.

The Pistons quickly started moving to restructure the team and are setting the pace in the market, agreeing to terms with guard Ben Gordon and forward Charlie Villanueva within hours of the start of free agency Wednesday.

The Celtics were slightly slower on the draw, but have pulled out the big guns to persuade Wallace. Meanwhile, the Celtics are working on contingency plans.

Things could be moving quickly for Grant Hill, Antonio McDyess, and Anthony Parker, who are on the Celtics’ list. Hill went to meet with the Knicks, and could rejoin Mike D’Antoni, who coached him in Phoenix. McDyess hoped to remain with Detroit, but the acquisition of Villanueva has caused him to become more aggressive in pursuing other options. Parker is likely to leave Toronto, possibly for Europe. He is high on Real Madrid’s shopping list.

Glen Davis, who averaged 15.8 points per game in the playoffs, is expected to receive a qualifying offer from the Celtics. Said Davis’s agent, John Hamilton: “We’re encouraged by what we heard and we will be patient. I had a good conversation with Danny on Wednesday.’’

Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at f_dellapa@globe.com. Marc J. Spears can be reached at mspears@globe.com.

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