Because he writes lots of words and does it both for money and at a pretty consistent rate/level, Bill Simmons is often a target for critique. After being directed by my big brother, I read Simmons’ most recent post at the you know where website concerning the all too new subject of Rasheed Wallace’s erratic and frustrating behavior. In case you haven’t read the article, don’t. It’s really flippin’ long and there’s nothing groundbreaking here (especially if you live in Portland or follow the hometown Blazers).
It’s the same diatribe that has been rehashed over and over about Mr. Wallace. “He’s aloof, doesn’t like to work out, shoots too many three-pointers at too low a rate, can’t really play defense or rebound like he once did and so forth.” Beside the fact that this is not very revelatory Simmons’ article completely hides the real culprit of this story while he perpetuates one of the pet peeves of us here at the New Enthusiast (I know you forgot we had pet peeves it’s been that long.)
Not once does Simmons, in this 9 million word essay, mention the two words that immediately came to mind after I read most of the article, Danny Ainge. Ainge, the General Manager of the Celtics did sign this 35 year old, past his prime, poster child for inconsistency throughout his career, to a 3-year, 18 million dollar deal early in the free agency period last summer.
This is the type of deal that pisses off Mr. and Mrs. Sportsfan so much. And it’s mostly because management’s decision never gets discussed in an honest way after deals like this get signed. In hindsight, the meme tends inevitably toward the underperforming athlete when, in this case, what Wallace is doing is what he has done for the past five or six years. Now he’s 35 and he probably is too old to get away with being able to do it effectively anymore.
Moreover, it’s not like Wallace was the only possible big man that could have helped this version of the Celtics. All of the following, while probably less talented are younger and probably more motivated to work and were unrestricted free agents last summer (One of which was on the Celtics frakkin’ bench last year):
Lamar Odom (probably a long shot I know)
Channing Frye (basically a younger version of Wallace except super-cool, cheap and probably available on a two year deal. Received a one-year from Suns).
It is also within the realm of consideration that with the huge 2010 free agency class, certain franchises would be looking to dump salary during the season or at the deadline. Cripes, Portland got Marcus “friggin” Camby for some guys named Outlaw and Blake. Are those professional basketball players or the title of a Cagney and Lacey spinoff?
So while Wallace has largely been disappointing for the Celtics this year, to heap all the blame on him for doing what he’s done the past half decade is more than a little disingenuous. It’s not as if Rasheed Wallace’s agent during the month of July 2009 stalked Danny Ainge with a gun pointed to his head saying, “Sign Sheed for three years at 18 mil or else”. On the flipside, it’s not as if after being offered 18 million dollars guaranteed, Rasheed Wallace would respond, “Oh no, I could never take that money as there’s no way I’ll ever be worth that kind of money for the next three years”.
Simmons’ avoidance of the mangagement angle of the Celtics story is even more awesome because Bill Simmons has openly lobbied for front office positions before either disturbingly or with tongue in cheek. So maybe when Simmons gets that front office interview he can think hypothetically about Hypothetical Danny Ainge thinking that in some way giving Wallace his final pay day would turn out awesome…
Oh boy, Hypothetical Danny Ainge, oh boy.