By: David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Courtesy of NBA.com / TNT.tv
The Boston Celtics‘ expected rebuilding began Thursday (June 24) when veteran forward Rasheed Wallace officially decided to retire after 15 NBA seasons, a league source said.
Wallace’s retirement had been expected after the Celtics‘ seven-game loss to the Lakers in the Finals, but Boston had held out some hope that the 35-year-old would change his mind with a few days’ contemplation.
Wallace signed a three-year, $18.9 million contract with Boston last summer, turning down offers from Orlando and San Antonio after the Celtics made a team-wide push to recruit him, sending Coach Doc Rivers, GM Danny Ainge and forwards Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Wallace’s home to ask him to play in Boston. He left more than $12 million on the table by opting to retire.
Wallace was not in great shape at the beginning of the season, but saved his best play for late in the regular season and in the playoffs, stepping in at center when starter Kendrick Perkins was injured and could not go in Game 7.
A controversial figure who amassed numerous technical fouls in his career amid numerous run-ins with referees, Wallace averaged 14.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in his career, which included stops in Washington, Portland, Atlanta (for just one game before he was traded to Detroit), the Pistons and Celtics. He was the key acquisition in Detroit’s run to the 2004 NBA championship, teaming with center Ben Wallace to form a nearly impregnable halfcourt defense in the paint.