What has gotten into Gerald Wallace? 5 explanations for his recent performance tuning

Hey, so... Gerald Wallace. Remember his opinions about the Celtics all season long? No? Well, let me give you a brief recap:

- "We’re playing teams and we’re concentrating on it being preseason. We’re trying to make an excuse. We’re playing lackadaisical." - Oct 21, 2013
- "We got selfish. ... I'm trying to figure out what's more inpportant: winning or padding your stats." - Nov 1, 2013
- "I’m just trying to make sense of everything. I’m trying to figure out what’s really going on and go from there. I don’t have a clue. I don’t know what’s going on. My thing is, when I’m on the court, I compete to win. And when I’m not, it’s just cheer my guys on and hopefully we’ll get a win tonight." - Nov 6, 2013
- "We’re going on a West Coast trip and playing some pretty good teams. This could set us in the right direction as far as where we want to go, or destroy our whole season." - Jan 5, 2014
- "The Celtics are a team that's all talk." - Jan 8, 2014
- "You’re watching, you know you can still play, and you watch guys in front of you who don’t play with effort, don’t respect the game and don’t think team first. It kind of frustrates you and (ticks) you off. You have to deal with it." - Jan 15, 2014

Well, he wasn't exactly brimming with happiness, but that was hardly a surprise given that it took him months to join the Celtics' camp and meet his new teammates and all. As a result, the Celtics weren't able to get much production out of him. Mike Dyer had summarized Wallace's weird season in detail, but here are the highlights: He had barely shot the ball (3.1 FGA in 22 minutes), his free throw percentage had been down by more than a half (71% career average vs. 34.5%), he turned the ball over in every 3.3 possessions... Things hadn't looked good, except for his occasional hustle plays and steals.

So, why am I using the past perfect tense? Because something has changed: Since January 15, 2014 (incidentally, the last time he openly criticized the team) Gerald Wallace has become a different player. In the last 5 games, his average turnover rate went down to 16.5% from 31.1%, he made 80% of his free throw attempts, he shot the ball more than 5 times twice in five games (compared to 5 out of 39 games prior), his defensive rating improved from 105 to 100, and, wait for it, his offensive rating jumped from 88 to a whopping 122. Not freaked out yet? This is what Wallace had to say last night, after the game:

WHAT?! What the hell happened to him? (sorry tb727, just had to say it) Here are the possible explanations, and the correct answer is probably a combination of a few of them:

1. He has finally understood his situation: Well, it was obvious that Wallace wasn't happy playing for the Celtics. He had made that quite clear. However, he also has an impossible-to-dump contract, and even if there were a few possible scenarios in which teams would be willing to take his atrocious contract on, his stats were so awful that hs negative value went through the, um, floor. It might be that he finally woke up from that weird dream in which he thought the Celtics were keeping him as a prisoner against his and everyone else's wishes, and realized that he has to play, or at the very least try to, decent ball so that he can get away from this team.

2. The trades sort of made him more valuable to the Celtics: Wallace's job had been easy: Play bad terrible basketball and then go blame the other players for stat-padding or lackadaisical performances. Well, the Celtics have been trading their guards away: Lee, Crawford and Brooks are all gone, and Bogans is M.I.A. Wallace cannot blame anyone else anymore, he is going to get extended minutes, he knows it, and he has to show it.

Rumor has it he failed to join The View so he
realized that basketball is his only option.
3. Competition had scared him: As he himself said before, he has always been a starter and always played to win prior to this season. It's quite possible that the ambiguous nature of the Celtics' season demotivated him, and all the guards he had to compete with for minutes just made him uncomfortable. You know, sometimes you feel down and even if your situation is not that bad, you just can't find the energy to fight. Maybe Wallace was genuinely pissed and depressed.

4. He had a beef with one of the guys that aren't with the Celtics anymore: Well, this is a long shot, but Lee was quite unhappy with his role, Brooks did not have a role, and we have the rumored bus incident with Bogans. It is not unlikely that the presence of these guys created a negative locker room experience, and since Wallace is clearly an outspoken person, it is also not unlikely that things were sour between him and another ex-Celtic. Maybe something happened to make him want to play basketball again.

5. Rondo's return caused a spark in him: Well, Rondo is a borderline superstar, and I'm sure playing with such a player is a great motivating factor for other NBA players. Wallace might simply be happy to play for a better team now with Rondo out there, or maybe he has interpreted Rondo coming back as a signal that the Celtics are willing to win games again. Either way, it is probably not just a coincidence that his play started improving since the Raptors game when Rondo suited up.

Or, you know, maybe his teammates have finally started listening to him and obeyed his demands:

OK, Jerry. You're the boss. Whatever you say. Just keep up the good work so that we can trade you. Thanks.