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Even though the Celtics have only played a single preseason game, one thing is clear: Gerald Wallace is here to play.

Wallace scored a team-high 16 points for Boston in their loss to the Raptors Monday night and looked more like the guy that earned the nickname "Crash" than the guy who faded into obscurity with the Brooklyn Nets last season. He ran hard, gave his all and played to win. This wasn't a guy trying to figure out where he fit or someone who needed a few games to get comfortable. Wallace was ready.

Of course, how much effort Wallace puts in is not likely to make a big dent in the win/loss column this year with coach Brad Stevens tinkering with his system to make it work in the NBA and plenty of young guys on the squad who need to get their shots to see if they can either be pieces to build around or assets to ship as part of the rebuild. Even so, the hustle is encouraging.

Wallace's "leave it all on the court" style of play is even making an impression with the other players. From Jay King at MassLive.com:

He’s just a smart player,” said (Avery) Bradley. “I love playing with him, I love my vets. They’re always taking me to the side, telling me what I can do better. They lead by example. Gerald’s a quiet guy, but he goes so hard, man. All you can do is respect him. It rubs off on me, and I want to go out there and play hard for him.

Wallace's leadership by example and tips here and there are nowhere near the type of constant hands-on teaching that Kevin Garnett gave to his young teammates in green, but it's a nice substitute.

Much of the talk coming into this season about Wallace had to do with his contract (3 years at around $10M per) and his horrible season in Brooklyn last year. One person not talking much about Brooklyn is Wallace. Again from MassLive.com:

Wallace, who said the Celtics took “two steps forward” Monday despite the loss, does not want to look backward himself. Asked about his struggles last season with the Nets, he said he’s now playing more freely, and any loss of confidence – his words at the time, not mine – no longer makes an impact. When a follow-up question came, the 31-year old bristled.

“I’m not even going to talk about last year, whatever went on last year," he said. "I’m worried about this year.”

But (Kris) Humphries saw Wallace up close last year in Brooklyn, and he sees him again now. Crash probably won't always shoot like he did Monday (6-10 FG, 2-5 3PT), but Humphries liked his lack of hesitancy.

“Sometimes things just aren’t a fit, certain situations,” said Humphries. “For him thus far, what I’ve seen, he’s clicked.”

As for his contract, there won't be too many suitors for a deal that large for a player over 30 whose All-Star days are behind him, unless the package included Rajon Rondo, but is that such a bad thing?

Wallace can be the veteran presence on this rebuilding team for the next three years to help give stability and teach the young guys the right way to play. He'll never complain about playing time or getting enough shots and seems to have no problem coming off the bench. In just one game Wallace showed he has plenty left in the tank and now with players talking about his inspirational play making them want to be better, let's start talking about the asset that is Gerald Wallace, instead of the albatross.

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@ericblaisdell13

Eric Blaisdell 10/08/2013 09:04:00 PM Edit
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