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.