Rasheed Wallace has officially been a Celtic for just a couple of days, but already he’s raring to suit up for the green and white.
“It’s a whole new world, a whole new day,” said Wallace, who was formally introduced as a member of the Celtics this afternoon at the team’s facility in Waltham. “I can’t wait for training camp.”
Wallace, the versatile 14-year veteran forward who helped the Detroit Pistons to the 2004 NBA title, was joined on the dais by a trio of his new teammates — Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen — Celtics coach Doc Rivers, and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. His wife, Fatima, and their three children were in attendance. Although he was also pursued by San Antonio, among other teams, he said his reason for signing with the Celtics was simple.
“Because I felt as though it was a good fit,” said the 34-year-old, who agreed to a three-year deal earlier this week. “One of the things that the guys up here do is play defense. They’ve been in the what, top three or four in defensive categories — one and two — in the last few years, so that’s saying a lot about them and their whole defense right there. That’s saying a lot about them and their whole defensive scheme. The bottom line is just to win.
“So, that pretty much swayed me right there. They’ve got a pretty good group of guys, you know. Every time I played against them, always talking to them on the floor, joshing with them,” said Wallace, who is close with Garnett. “So I think that it is extra good that we’re all teammates.”
Wallace said he was pleasantly surprised that Garnett, Pierce and Allen were at the announcement.
“As soon as I came around the corner into that little conference room, seeing these three guys there, that I wasn’t expecting,” Wallace said. “. . . To see these three guys there, that showed a lot, that showed me that they really want me to be a part of this team. Opening their arms to me and my family to be a part of the Boston Celtics family.”
The good feeling among his teammates is mutual. Pierce said Wallace gives the Celtics a piece they could have used last season, when they were eliminated in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Orlando Magic in seven games.
“I mean, I just think it’s a great addition,” Pierce said. “We obviously had depth issues last year because of injuries, but just bringing Rasheed in expands the things we do on the court, he fits right in as one of the pieces of the puzzle.
“I think it’s going to be an exciting year. Everybody knows what we’re all about, winning a championship.”
Allen said the Wallace deal sends a message to the rest of the league: The Celtics are not to be messed with in the upcoming season.
“I think when Kevin was traded here two years ago, I think people sat back and took notice and immediately pushed us to the top,” Allen said. “They were a little afraid of us, and I think the same thing is happening now with adding Rasheed to the roster.”
Said Garnett, who was drafted one pick after Wallace in the 1995 NBA Draft and has been friends with the 6-foot-11-inch forward ever since, was clearly thrilled by the addition.
“I’m really excited about the [upcoming] year,” Garnett said. “Not only is this a key addition to our team but a major addition to our team. We can play any fashion we want to — almost feels like ’80s basketball all over again, doesn’t it, with the versatility that ‘Sheed brings?
“I’m just glad he and his family have joined our family, and we’re going to make the best of this. I’m totally excited.”