There’s something to be said for paying your dues, and Celtics forward Gerald Wallace has heard it plenty before.
After coming within a game of the NBA Finals with a 61-win Sacramento Kings team his rookie year and making the playoffs each of his first three seasons in the league, a 21-year-old Wallace was taken by the Charlotte Bobcats in the NBA’s expansion draft.
Charlotte missed the playoffs in five of the six and a half years Wallace spent there — and was swept in the first round of the franchise’s lone appearance — so when he was traded to playoff-bound Portland in 2011, it was a blessing. Then, Wallace went to the abysmal 22-win Nets in 2012 before the team moved to Brooklyn, pulled off a series of trades and became a competitive force in the East — before flipping him to rebuilding Boston in its final big trade.
The journeyman has seen his fair share of ups and downs over his first 12 years in the league, so it’s understandable that at 31 and on the back nine of his career, the veteran wants to win.
The 0-4 Celtics have yet to accomplish anything in the win column. Cue the frustration from the “leader” of the team.
“It’s hard,” Wallace told the Boston Herald. “It’s like starting from scratch zero with this team and trying to figure out what direction they’re headed in and what pieces they’re going to put together. For me, I’ve already been through that situation. I was on an expansion team in Charlotte. I’ve established myself. To have to start all over on a team that’s starting from scratch is very difficult.”
Wallace isn’t complaining, though, and he assured reporters of the same.
“I don’t ask for trades. I don’t like to be traded,” he said. “You know, once I get a place where I’m comfortable, I just want to know what’s expected of me and what my role is. For a guy that goes out and puts 110 percent of himself into it, you’re giving your all and you just want to know that.
“I’m out there and I’m trying to give my 110 percent, and at the same time I’m trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing and how I can do the most to help.”
Wallace also assured that his comments weren’t an attack on coach Brad Stevens, and that he was trying to explain his frustration.
It’s hard learning a new role on a new team as is, but when most of that new team is trying to learn its role, too, that makes it a little bit harder. Wallace probably isn’t the only person who feels this way, but as a veteran leader, it’s his job to speak. Or so he thinks.
However, with 78 games left in the season, it’s going to be a long six months if Boston’s longest-tenured member of the league is already uncomfortable.
The good news? There’s only 51 games until the trading deadline.