|Ray Allen, adjusting his uniform for a photo, holds a paper ID in his mouth. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)|
It all sounds good now
Wallace voices much optimism about role
WALTHAM - A year ago, the Celtics were fielding questions about replacing departed players such as James Posey. At yesterday’s media day, the answers to the Celtics’ questions - and to their prayers - were standing on the practice facility court in person.
Newcomers Marquis Daniels, Rasheed Wallace, and Shelden Williams add veteran depth and versatility to the roster. And Wallace provides not just another major player but also another voice - a loud one. His ability to communicate will raise not only the team’s level of defending, but also the volume, according to coach Doc Rivers.
“He is going to stretch the floor for us,’’ Rivers said of Wallace. “He’s going to give us another post player. Defensively, he’s going to be huge for us, with his size and with his verbal [ability]. I think he’s one of the best talkers in the NBA. Verbally, when you put him and Kevin [Garnett] on the floor at the same time, and Perk [Kendrick Perkins], I think we have a chance to be the loudest team, in a positive way, defensively, in the game.’’
But even at a conversational volume, Wallace’s communication skills should allow him to charm the very fans who cheered against him when he played against the Celtics.
“It’s fun, it’s cool,’’ Wallace said of his reception in Boston. “Everyone has treated me with open arms. At the gas station, supermarket, restaurants. Walking down the street - ‘Hey, welcome to Bawston, welcome to Bawston.’ It’s been cool.
“A lot of people were saying things before I got here, but now it’s going to be good, to hear them on the other side - ‘Good shot,’ or, ‘Way to make the pass.’ It’s going to be fine. It doesn’t matter to me, [except] what five people think about me - that’s inside my house. If a person doesn’t like me or doesn’t like my game, that’s how they feel; you can’t be upset about that.’’
Garnett and Wallace raised each other’s games as opponents, and expect to do so as teammates. They certainly will raise the decibel level.
“That’s where it’s at - defense,’’ Wallace said. “You’ve got to talk on defense. Playing against those guys [the Celtics], we heard that. When I was at Detroit, we tried to call a play out and we heard those guys say, ‘It’s going to be this play, watch out for that guy in the corner, watch out for the back pick.’ So now that we’re all together, I don’t know who’s louder in the NBA.’’
The Garnett-Wallace relationship goes back to the 1995-96 season, their first in the NBA. But there were questions about how Perkins and Wallace would interact.
“Perk’s not what I thought he would be,’’ Wallace said. “Perk’s a good cat, a good young guy, laid back, he’s out here working hard, out back lifting. That’s the kind of thing I like to see in a young player.
“I wasn’t sure, I’m not going to say [how] I thought he was or nothing like that, because I can’t judge him like that. I know, for me, when I’m on the court I’m totally different than when I’m off the court. When I’m on the court, I’m hustling, fussing, and cussing, this and that. And, when I’m off the court, look, I’m just an everyday dad, going to market.
“I didn’t know what to expect from Perk. But hanging out with him, and the locker room talk, Perk’s cool.’’
Said Perkins, “I like playing with Rasheed. Great passer. Obviously we know he can shoot. He’s got great post moves. Great defender. But really, I just wanted to see how he was outside of basketball, and he’s a great guy in the locker room, [his] personality is great and everything. He’s a great guy.’’
Rivers has to devise a scheme that will involve Wallace.
“We’re athletic enough, long enough, we’ll be able to switch,’’ Wallace said. “I might be on the ‘3’ man, Perk might be on the ‘3’ man. I didn’t know what to expect from Perk. I didn’t know a lot of these guys. It’s different from when you are playing with guys and playing against them, on and off the court.
“We’re going to be put in different situations. I can always say I think we’re going to jell real quick, we’re going to jell real fine, but I’d be lying to you all. When those different situations come up, when it’s a close game, we could be down 1 and we need to get the ball, what type of guys we got here? Or, we could be up 15 with five minutes left and, all right, are we going to shut the door or let them come back? So, it depends on the situations when they come along, and I think we can handle it pretty good because there is a high basketball IQ on this team.
“I think this was the same position I had when I went to Detroit; those guys were hyped when I got there. It’s a love-love relationship. I know what kind of players they are, what type of coaches we have, so it’s going to be good, it’s going to be a fun, long ride. We haven’t gone out there and actually played 48 minutes yet. But, talent-wise, it’s one of the best teams I’ve seen.’’
Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.