WALTHAM — Gerald Wallace stayed home and digested news that he said he never saw coming.
The veteran swingman then remained in Alabama for nearly the entire offseason before coming here in recent weeks to join members of the Celtics, the team to which he had been traded.
Wallace, formerly of the Brooklyn Nets, said he had no idea he’d be included in the blockbuster deal with the Celtics until he saw it on television this summer.
“You kind of sit down and look at yourself and wonder what happened,” Wallace said at media day Monday, as the team prepares to open training camp Tuesday in Newport, R.I.
Because Wallace stayed home, even missing an introductory news conference because of a prior commitment, observers wondered if he was unhappy.
He said that’s not the case.
“I’m actually happy to be here in Boston,” he said in his first comments to the media since the trade was agreed upon on draft night. “I’ve always loved the city of Boston when I came [here]. Besides, I’m a Red Sox and Patriots fan, so I’m close to my teams.”
Still, the 31-year-old Wallace, who’s entering his 13th season in the league, didn’t deny that it’s hard to join a rebuilding project at this point in his career.
“But for me, I think it’ll be challenging, trying to turn this team around like I did in Charlotte, kind of help these guys out, and push as far as we can here,” he said.
Wallace averaged 18.2 points and 10 rebounds per game during the 2009-10 season with Charlotte, leading the team to the first round of the playoffs.
Along with most of the players on the roster this season, Wallace isn’t sure what his role will be. First-year coach Brad Stevens said Wallace’s versatility will allow him to play multiple positions, from shooting guard to power forward.
As for his fandom with the Red Sox and Patriots, Wallace said that developed because the state of Alabama doesn’t have a professional team.
“I’ve always followed Big Papi,” Wallace said. “I’m just fascinated with [Tom] Brady. I’ve been a big, big Brady fan since he’s started in the league. I’ve been following him since Day 1; him and Coach Belichick. They are my favorite team.”
Wallace said that in his house, he has a room filled with Patriots and Red Sox memorabilia, including game jerseys, team pictures, and an autographed bat from David Ortiz.
Avery Bradley missed training camp in his rookie year while he recovered from ankle surgery. A shoulder injury and the lockout hurt his progress the next season. Then, last season, he missed the first 30 games while recovering from dual shoulder surgeries.
Finally, as he enters his fourth season, the guard said he is healthy.
“This is going to be big for me,” he said.
With Rajon Rondo (knee) not expected to return to action any time soon, Bradley likely will play point guard until Rondo returns. Bradley played that position some last season when Rondo suffered a season-ending knee injury and said the experience will help.
If he does play point guard, though, Bradley, considered one of the NBA’s top perimeter defenders, said that won’t affect him when it comes to harassing opponents.
“As long as I don’t get myself too tired on the defensive end, I’ll be fine,” he said.
The former Texas standout also bragged plenty about the Celtics’ new coach.
“We’ve all been calling him a basketball junkie because he truly loves the game,” Bradley said. “In the few weeks I’ve been here, I’ve been able to learn so much from him.”
Sullinger ‘not close’
Second-year forward Jared Sullinger, who underwent back surgery last season, said he is “not close” to being in game shape for this season, which begins Oct. 30 against the Raptors in Toronto.
“Being out for six months of not playing basketball, it’s really tough,” said Sullinger, who was limited to 45 games in his rookie season before having surgery. “I got a lot of work to do. And only training camp can help that.”
Sullinger is also dealing with legal issues. Prosecutors have said they intend to pursue domestic assault charges against Sullinger as the result of an Aug. 31 conflict with his girlfriend, who since has requested that the case be dropped.
“Right now we’re just focused on basketball and when that court date comes, then we’ll have a distraction that day, but as of right now I’m just focused on basketball,” Sullinger said.
He added, “Honestly, things happen. It was a mistake. But at the same time, this really shows where my character is at — where I go from here.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BaxterHolmes.