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Trashing Sheed, Wanting to Know More

In what might be a first, Bill Simmons, known in some circles as the unofficial spokesman for all Boston fans (a title he almost certainly does not want), devotes an entire column to trashing a single NBA player.

That player? Rasheed Wallace.

Much of this is familiar territory. Simmons points out that Sheed is hitting just 28.2 percent of his three-pointers this season, which, given how often he takes them, places Sheed’s 2010 campaign in the conversation for all-time worst three-point shooting season.

Simmons also notes that Rasheed Wallace is probably the worst offensive rebounding center in the NBA, something Brian Robb covered here last month.  But Simmons goes a step further and begins making the case that Sheed’s mere presence on the court makes the C’s worse.

Here’s the money excerpt:

Sheed’s plus/minus is predictably bad: minus-4.6. I don’t trust individual plus/minus as much as numbers for five-man lineups, so let’s dig deeper. When Boston’s three best perimeter players (Rondo, Pierce and Ray Allen) play with Garnett and Perkins, that unit is plus-280 for the season (plus-12.0 per 48 minutes). Swap Wallace for Perkins and it dips to minus-19 (-5.0 per 48 minutes). Swap Wallace for Garnett and it dips to minus-4 (minus-1.1 per 48 minutes).

Basketball Value verifies that Sheed is having an abysmal season regardless of whether you prefer raw plus/minus data (as cited by Simmons) or adjusted plus/minus.

None of this is news if you’ve been paying attention. And Sheed’s deterioration shouldn’t be a surprise; we wrote about his troubling statistical trends even before the C’s signed him.

But Simmons adds some colorful anecdotes of Sheed ignoring an attractive woman at a Clippers game, and he steps back from the season and re-focuses on the larger picture.

And that larger picture is this: The Celtics have Sheed on the payroll for two more seasons after this one at more than $6 million per.

The C’s took a gamble that 2009 was a mirage; that Sheed still had something left in the tank; that he could turn his game on when it mattered.  Did the team get hoodwinked? Did they essentially throw $19 million down the toilet?

Simmons—like many of you, I suspect—thinks they did:

Sheed taught everyone that “He’s not washed up, he just quit on his coach” should never be your justification for signing a free agent.

The playoffs are still to come, so technically the jury is still out. The C’s brought Sheed here for the post-season, and, to Sheed’s credit, he’s taking considerably fewer threes as the post-season approaches. But  still: If we don’t see some serious improvement, the Sheed signing is an obvious failure.

Which begs the question: Aren’t you dying to know more about the internal debate that led to the signing? As I said before, Sheed’s statistical profile hid nothing. It showed him to be an aging player on a steep, steep decline toward retirement. Before you even had to think about the technicals, the way he bashed Flip Saunders and quit on Michael Curry, all of the attitude issues—before any of that—you had a black-and-white statistical profile of a nearly washed-up player.

There must have been someone in the Celtics organization that said no, right? The Celtics front office is loaded with smart people. This is one of the smartest organizations in the NBA.

Someone said no. There was a voice arguing against tacking that third season onto the contract. There had to have been.  So who overwhelmed that voice? The players—the ones who traveled to Sheed’s doorstep almost the first second league rules allowed them to do so? Doc Rivers? Danny Ainge?

There is an interesting story to be told, and we haven’t heard it. I hope we do at some point, but not as much as I hope Sheed really has an extra gear we haven’t seen yet. Because we’re all waiting.

  • Paolo

    As far as being a loyal fan that sticks through thick and thin that still believes that this team is still a contender, I highly doubt that there is anything Sheed can show us that he has not done yet. There is no extra gear.

  • @Paolo: I agree. I’d be shocked if we see anything more than Sheed has given.

  • JDeb

    I’m curious why you say that the Celtics are one of the smartest organizations in the NBA.

    What do you base this off?

    Sure they won the championship 2 years ago, but over the last 19 years I wouldn’t say they have the greatest track record of smart decisions.

    If anything, i’d say signing Rasheed Wallace is in line & consistent with the quality of a lot of their decisions over the last 19 years.

  • ProfK

    I think he does have an “extra gear.” He knows why he was brought here. He knew from when they showed up on his doorstep. He has nothing to prove—yet. And from the glimmers he’s shown, I think he’ll be a different Sheed in the playoffs.

  • @JDeb: The Celtics are in the NBA vanguard in terms of quantitative analysis. They were the launching pad for Daryl Morey’s career, and they have an assistant GM (Mike Zarren) widely considered to be in Morey’s mold and in Morey’s league.

    This is an organization that really gets it, and that has a lot of smart voices in the decision-making process.

  • JDeb

    @Zach Lowe: Amazing that they have been so bad for so long, if that’s the case.

    On the other hand, they do have the most championship banners, but all but 1 of those are now over 2 decades old.

    Another thing i’d just like to comment on is that I think during this decade is has been proven time and time again that too much of a big deal can be made of regular season performance, the lakers, spurs, miami heat & robert horry have all given us this reminder.

    As a celtics fan, i’m hopeful we can join the list

  • Perry


    I don’t think there is back story. When ownership agreed to spend the MLE on Sheed, the entire Celtic hierarchy was at his doorstep pitching and wooing away. Tell me the truth here. During that finial presser, when he was introduced to the media, were you not envisioning more banners being lifted to the rafters? I was for sure.

    It’s not all Sheed’s fault. For the record I am not a ‘Need for Sheed’ blogger either. I do know there have been too many moving parts pertaining to chemistry effecting this team in negative ways all season long. I won’t enumerate all of them because you’re smart enough to bullet point the events.

    Now his signing may turn out to be a disaster, but even with the attitude and creaky old bones the dude has a post up game that’s second to none.

    Let me remind you Scal’s contract was longer and cost the franchise much more money. So if he can’t be moved we have to make the best of a bad situation. Danny put up with Scal because no one wanted him, so I expect to see the same result if he can’t move Sheed.

    My other point pertains to Danny passing up on Posey the year before. It wasn’t because of money — it was the length of the contract. Posey wanted 5 years — the Celtics got scared. The fact that Sheed settled for 3 years helped.

    Look, you reap what you sow. The jury is not out yet on the season. The Espn clowns have to blogs to post and articles to write. These are same people who pronounced the Celtics the NBA’s best team after the Lakers. According to them Sheed could put the Celtics over the top. Opps!

  • JDeb

    Do you think that Rasheed Wallace is responsible for the Celtics decline?

    What happened to the rebounding, and the ferocious defense?

    Watching recent celtics games, Kevin garnett is just not the same, I knew that he would not be the same offensively this season, and his rebound numbers may not be down, but I thought he would still have a great impact on defense.

    it seems’ to me that our interior D is not good, and our rebounding is poor.

    I dont know where to source this information – but can anyone advise if any team has ever won a championship which was last in the league in offensive rebounding?

    I really doubt it, your offense would need to be way too efficient – but i hope i’m wrong!

  • efstje

    Mr Simmons noted that sheed (shitd) is the chemistry killer of the celtics and I agree.Last year’s Garnettless team had much more passion/focus/intensity.This year they only try to find excuses for not playing well

  • @JDeb: I should make clear that I’m not placing the blame for the season on Sheed. I didn’t specify that in this post, because if you read this site, you’ve read stuff by all three of us about the team’s turnover problems, its offensive rebounding issues, it’s recent foul-prone-ness, the aging of the key players, etc.

    That stuff is here on a daily basis. If Sheed were playing at ’04 levels, I’m not sure how many more wins Boston would have right now. A few, no doubt. But the problems with this team–and they are real–go well beyond Sheed.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    I also liked the sheed signing at the time. If Baby is your backup big, you are not going anywhere. The 3rd year made me cringe, but who knows the other offers he had on the table.

    Simmons captured his tude perfectly. Even though I watch almost every game, the regular season means nothing to sheed (or any of the others now). I’m kinda cool with that.

    **deep breath**
    I’m still willing to reserve judgement on sheed. Playoffs will decide. And I think Simmons just wrote the article to light a fire under him right before the playoffs, cause he knows how important he could be for this team. Funny that a sports writer needs to do that instead of the coach.

  • JDeb

    @Zach: hey no prob I wasnt saying you did say that, i was just asking the question on if you thought a lot of the blame could be placed on Sheed?

    If we went by Mr Simmons theory that Sheed is a cancer, and look at just how well the celtics came out of the gate, but you could argue as the cancer ‘spread’ they have gotten worse as the season went on.

    Im sorry if i am going off topic and discussing the celtics as a whole – but I think this is a big part of the celtics.

    Here is the encouraging thing for me, re; the celts, they have been so bad at home and had some stinkers, IE losing to the nets, BUT, they have a very very good road record, one of the better records in the league, to me this represents some complacency and they are taking it easy at home and they are more focused on the road under pressure.

    I don’t know what to make of the shocking fourth quarters, or simple things like the inability to even get a shot off vs the knicks with 7 seconds to make a play. That is stuff that shouldnt happen to a champsionship team.

    If they could create a basket to send it to OT out of 0.4 in miami, then .. WTF! :)

  • Jay P


    “@Zach Lowe: Amazing that they have been so bad for so long, if that’s the case.

    On the other hand, they do have the most championship banners, but all but 1 of those are now over 2 decades old.”

    Do some research on the post 80s decline of the Celtics, books have been written on the subject, and some go as far as to say the team was downright cursed.

    It wasn’t bad decision, just bad luck. Len Bias, Reggie Lewis, and absolutely horrid luck in getting top lottery picks (missing out on Duncan/Durant, although missing the top 2 lottery in 07 turned out to be a blessing in disguise and get us banner 17, still… at the time it was just another example of horrid Celtics luck.)

    Reggie Lewis was the franchise guy the Celtics banked the future of the team on, and no one could have anticipated what happened with him.

  • What More Can I Say?

    Sheed is definitely a BUST. The Bill Simmons article is on point. One of the best articles I have read this year. I REMEMBER Sheed’s 4th quarter performance against the Lakers in 2000 and recently watched a show on NBATV about how he left Horry wide open in 2005.

    But blaming the season on Sheed is a bit much. He definitely gets some of the credit, but I can’t make him shoulder all of it.

  • JDeb

    @ Jay P: The Bias & Lewis stories are DEFINATELY cases of bad luck.

    What about Vin Baker? Why would such a” smart organization” make such a bad decision?

    People were laughing (myself included) as soon as the news came out…

    Was it a gamble on him picking himself up? if it was, it was a pretty bad gamble for such a ‘smart organization’

  • The people who made the Vin Baker decision are largely not with the team anymore and haven’t been for a while.

  • GranTur

    People are reading too much into this.

    The Celtics needed length and Rasheed was the best option.

    The veterans on this team wanted this to happen. Even if he won’t improve in the playoffs, we have a better bench than we did in 2008.

    It all comes down to the starters health and ability.

  • @GranTur: Sheed was an interesting option, no doubt. But was he a better option than not spending $19 million when you’re already over the luxury tax line?

  • Jay P


    I can’t say he is. Honestly, what do we gain from Sheed right now, nothing really. I’m still praying we see more out of him in the playoffs, but right now, with one or two exception games, I’d much rather see Shelden Williams on the floor.

    Granted he doesn’t have the ability to score like Sheed, but he works hard, and I’ll take that any day.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    @Zach. Definitely a better option than not spending 19M. They have no way to retool after the trades that brought the title….there is no way out of the contracts with the elder-statesmen. All you can do is accept the risk and make a push. The spurs getting jefferson was a similar move by a smart organization.

    I just don’t want to think about the next two years right now (at least tickets will be easier to come by). Lets all just enjoy this postseason, its the only hope of success for the next 3 years….

  • Perry

    The last thing I want to do is defend Sheed, but he was one of the primary free agents on the market this past summer.

    Given Kevin’s injury, at that moment in time, management did the right thing. It is no surprise that the same people who lauded the signing are now trashing it or digging a PR grave for someone else.

  • What the C’s need most from Rasheed he simply can’t provide–Rebounding + Defense–Sheed is glued to the floor most of the time and the amount of offensive rebounds the C’s are allowing has become embarrasing.My fear is that in the playoffs Sheed is going to leave the block–which is the only place they need him–and start launching brick after brick 3’s. Doc had better keep Rasheed on a short lease or I think his lack or focus will cost the C’s big time.

  • @Perry: Who lauded it? The reaction, I think, was pretty mixed, no?

  • jeryl

    i cant stand rasheed one bad apple spoils the bunch hes very ignorant wanting to yell at the coach and referees this aint no street conflict we trying to win a championship imagine rasheed in the playoffs doing this and the finals if we make it he kills all focus and motivation 7 foot bag of hot air get rid of him the perfect second rotation nate,ta,shelden,finelywake up scal super subs uno uno keep him from under the rim stay in the midrange to shoot ,in the paint past the ball

  • Perry


    I didn’t mean to direct any wise crack or venom at you or anyone this board. My comments are directed at the smarty pants in the media. They’re so adept when it comes to jumping on and off the bandwagon.

    This is such great bulletin board material. Not sure if it would light a fire under Sheed, but no one in the media gives this team a shot, and they’re looking to affix blame on anything that walks.

    I understand why because savvy bloggers like yourself and us board posters are equally adept at breaking down this team’s flaws. Only we’re not looking for a bogeyman. Meanwhile on paper this team could still be force, and I’m hoping the can stick to the ESPN smart set.

    Keep up the great work. LOL

  • @Perry–Oh, I didn’t think you were going after me! No worries on that count at all. I just felt the reaction to Sheed, at its most optimistic was, “Well, he’s probably better than Big Baby.”

  • greg

    He has ruined the chemistry of the team. Rivers has done a bad job getting him into line. He’s like Manny except Manny produced, They should boot him. Finley has been great, Should have never gotten rid of Posey!

  • disappointed

    the celtics are 25-24 since christmas. that’s more than half the games. the playoffs are just around the corner and they just lost to the knicks and didn’t look that impressive against a raptors team missing its 2 best guys. we need to get more realistic and lower our expectations.

  • DRJ1

    On the one hand, you say there are a lot of smart people in the Cs organization, helping to make decisions like the one to hire Sheed x 3 years. And you also say that Sheed was brought here for the playoffs, and the playoffs are still in the future, so we need to withhold judgment. But then with your next breath, you question the decision to bring him here, and express great doubt over the suggestion that Sheed has another gear, the “playoff gear.”

    To me, that’s a deeply flawed series of points. Yes, the Cs are smart. Yes, Sheed was brought here for the playoffs. And yes, btw, he has a HISTORY of saving it for the playoffs, and has also SAID as much, even this year. And therefore, you CANNOT doubt that he has a next gear. The evidence so far suggests that Sheed WILL hit that gear, soon. There is NO evidence that he will not. None. There can’t be. The playoffs haven’t happened yet.

    I should add that despite all that, I have changed my attitude toward Sheed, as of the Cavs game, to where I would like and even expect the Cs to try to move him out of Boston this summer. It’ll be hard, maybe impossible, but they need to try. But that’s because of the open insubordination and anti-ubuntu attitude he displayed during the Cavs game, and NOT because of any failure on Sheed’s part to play correct. That playing failure hasn’t happened… not yet anyway. what has happened is an INEXCUSABLE display of uncontrolled selfishness and chemistry-killing, on national tv, which is good and sufficient reason to get rid of this guy.

    But I still expect Sheed to step up in the playoffs. I believe he will. So does Doc, or he wouldn’t have so easily played that “forgive and forget” song to the media.

  • jeryl

    I dont expect sheed to do nothing he has a quick temper if anything he will hurt us he cant shoot three but continues to jack em up rajon rondo one of my favorite celtic needs to jack them up because it seem 8 times out of 10 he will make them imagine sheed in the playoffs shooting 3 point bricks you cant make them now he want make them in the playoffs i would love for him to bang in the paint with perkins and kg they are a unstopable force in the paint they stop lebron in the paint just like they did with kobe dwayne wade carmello pretty scary duranchula is a beast but can be stop he got the foul

  • RBD

    Sheed needs about four extra gears. One ain’t gonna do it.

  • I love Green

    I love Bill Simmons. Hopefully somebody tells Rasheed to read his article, then that’ll get him angry and he’ll start playing harder.

    Yeah right. 99.89999% chance that DOESN’T happen.

  • JP

    Sheed might be too lazy to read the entire article. One of my favorite Simmons made up stats was where he counts the number of possessions that Sheed doesn’t pass either foul line (9 i think). I mean that is ridiculous, Sheed needs to help this team in some way, I just don’t see them flipping on a switch like they think they can.

  • rav

    Still think he has an extra gear. We’ve seen it in a few games. I agree with Perry in that Sheed was brought as KG insurance (since he was the one available who could, theoretically, best replicate what KG brings).

    Otherwise, the team would have rolled with Big Baby as 3rd big (he would then have more minutes, be more productive, be less immature and unhappy about his role, and play the stretch 4 which he is more suited to than the “inside big” he is being of late), and signed up a 4th big with the LLE (I was thinking of Rasho Nesterovic) or kept Powe. Meanwhile, the MLE would have been spent on a backup 2/3.

    Basically, the KG injury was the reason for all of this mess. The plan was that KG stays healthy last year, win a championship, get an MLE backup swingman, KG deteriorate slightly this year, but still win the championship, pick up an MLE big man this offseason, win the championship next year, win the championship again and all the Big 3 retire and ride of into the sunset with 4 championships each, future HOF places secured and places in the top 100 all-time.

  • legs-diamond

    I’ll be more convinced about R Wallace when he logs some double-digit rebound games. (though I never have thought he would be a Celts-type hustle player).

    It’s not all Sheed though. Kevin is a bit less than Kevin. Pierce as well. No Posey and Powe to wreak havoc.

    I like the idea of using more T Allen, and letting Nate Robinson run around in the second unit. Glen Davis plays too hard to be left on the bench. And I’m sorry, Shelden Williams always does a great job off the bench, use him.

    Hopefully there is a playoff gear for Rasheed, and that the Celts starters will sweat blood come playoffs. There’s no wait-til-next year with this band.

    Otherwise, the Cavs and Magic look like the class of the league.

  • jeryl

    go celtics go kg is not deterioating he will be full form hes getting back shaq is what 38 grant hill is 37 kg only 33 these guys were injured and really had no rest next year if we dont win this year watch out for an 100% celtics next year rondo wants a ring kg allen and pierce dont give up hope i wonder if they read what we post cus if they do its wonder why they cant get it negative words towards them will either kill your dream or anger you to play and show you up go celtics go

  • jeryl

    Trade rasheed and marquis dainels for andre igudala and draft a big 6’11 center the celtics have 2 good years left in them allen ,pierce and kg just need super sub off the bench nate ta shelden a new recruit center,and power forward next year agenda dont split up the the 5 keep rondo allen kg perk and pierce. could you imagine the big three coming off the bench well rested at full strenght go celtics go