Gerald Wallace was stoic last season. He often moped around on the end of the bench with his hands stuffed in his face, and he almost never smiled. But neither did the Boston Celtics fans that watched him play on the court.
Many of the league's observers consider his contract as one of the worst in the entire NBA. Wallace's three-year, $30.3 million contract was criticized by Celtics fans in a Bill Simmons piece published on Grantland.
The Worst Contracts in the NBA
Eric in Springfield, Massachusetts: "Instead of a jersey number, could the Celtics convince Wallace to wear all the first-rounders we got in that trade on his jersey? I want to be constantly reminded that we have those picks every time I’m forced to watch him play basketball."
Jared in Boston: "My roommate is a huge Celtics fan. He just realized that he turns 21 on the day Gerald Wallace’s contract expires and said, ‘That’s definitely the day I die of alcohol poisoning.’"
At 32-years-old, coming off of knee surgery and an underwhelming season, his contract certainly doesn't match his talent level, but that doesn't mean it has zero value.
To "Jared in Boston," if you're reading: Dying of alcohol poisoning on your 21st birthday/Wallace's "last day" is not worth it. Trust me.
In fact, Wallace's contract could be extremely valuable as soon as next February, but certainly during the 2015 offseason.
Before this summer Celtics president Rich Gotham was asked about how the team can put themselves in the best position for a blockbuster trade.
"Whether it's the ‘13-‘14 summer or the ‘14-‘15 summer, we do have flexibility to react to opportunities that might present themselves," Gotham said. "I think that's a big part of what we've tried to accomplish, whether that goes to a free agent or a trade. It's terribly important."
The Celtics are certainly willing to react to opportunities, as they tried to do this summer for Kevin Love, but they also have the flexibility because of the assets on the roster.
Lots of discussion goes into the value of the young prospects and the draft picks, but contracts like Wallace's have value too.
Wallace will essentially become a $10.1 million expiring contract next summer, and if there's half as much movement as there was in 2014, then he could be the piece that materializes a transaction.
Look back to 2007: if the Celtics didn't have Theo Ratliff's jumbo-sized expiring contract they never would've been able to complete a trade to acquire Kevin Garnett.
There's no guarantee any opportunities of that caliber will arise, but as Gotham said, they have to be in a flexible position to react if they do. That's exactly why Wallace's contract is like a lottery ticket. There is absolutely no reason to sell him for five cents on the dollar right now when that ticket could bring in so much more.
It's worth the risk and the wait, too. Wallace might look like a problem when he's sulking on the bench, but he's actually one of the most well liked players in the locker room. He serves as a veteran presence to many of the team's young players and he played a large role in Jeff Green's progression.
And what's the worst that can happen in keeping Crash? He sucks again with a 46.5 free throw shooting percentage? He keeps bricking threes? Or he's a nightly inactive and just keeps collecting his paychecks?
So what? Deal with it, because this current roster isn't contending for a title this year anyway.
If a star player becomes available next winter or summer, the Celtics will be one of the favorites to acquire him because of their plethora of future draft picks, prospects, and of course Wallace's expiring contract.
Before you complain about how terrible it is having Gerald Wallace on the roster, think about how happy you'll be if he's the reason the Boston Celtics are able to acquire a big-time player. Danny Ainge and the front office have to plan for the best-case scenario, and you should share those expectations.