Gerald Wallace has made such an impression around the NBA that there are draft prospects being compared with him or projected as Gerald Wallace types of players. It is flattering for the 32-year-old Celtic, who has served as more of a mentor than a player during his two seasons in Boston.
Wallace has played in 27 of the Celtics' 65 games this season and has provided some impressive moments, although his most productive days are past him after years of diving for loose balls and using his athleticism to defend bigger players, earning the nickname "Crash."
Wallace has one year left on his contract at $10 million, and while he plans to fulfill that, he said he will spend this summer deciding whether his career in 2016-17.
"Hopefully, I'll reflect going into the last year of my deal," he said. "This is my [14th] year. You kind of sit back and look at your career and all you've done and kind of just evaluate your past and try to set up for your future and see what you want to do. That's the time I'll do it, in the offseason."
Can Wallace envision making it to 16 seasons?
"I would love to continue to play, but it's more about my family and my kids," he said. "I'm only 32 years old and I've been in here 14 years. That's almost half of my life in this league. My kids are getting older. They're starting to play high school sports now. It depends on if they're comfortable with me still playing or they're ready for me to come home and be part of their lives."
One draft prospect being compared with Wallace is Arizona swingman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a sophomore who is one of the better defenders in the country.
"I'm pretty sure I'm not one of the guys that kids grew up dreaming of being like, but I looked to make my mark in this league and establish myself," Wallace said. "I've had a successful, long career in this league. My mentality was always defense first and striving to be the best defender I could be, then building my way into an offensive player. Me being able to focus on defense kind of helped my offense. You don't have many defensive-minded kids anymore."
It's getting to the point where Phil Pressey coming off the bench after a long layoff and producing is hardly a surprise. He played during two games during the West Coast road trip in January and produced 15 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds in 32 minutes.
Pressey played a total of 37 minutes from Jan. 28 to March 9, before submitting 18 sparkling minutes in a critical win over the Memphis Grizzlies as a replacement for the injured Isaiah Thomas. In the three games Thomas has missed, the Celtics are 3-0, and Pressey has scored 22 points with 16 assists and 6 rebounds off the bench. He provided spark in Saturday's surprising 93-89 win over the streaking Indiana Pacers, scoring 7 points with four assists in 17 minutes.
Pressey, a 5-foot-11-inch point guard, has taken some tips from the 5-9 Thomas about attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line. Pressey has attempted nine free throws in the last three games compared with 25 in the previous 36.
"When you have a lot of shooters around you, the paint's open," Pressey said. "The defense has to really stay home to our shooters, and it allows myself and the other guard to get into the paint. Watching film, watching other point guards, and that's really helped me out. The coaching staff has really been preaching that to me and it seems like it's working right now."
One of the point guard Pressey has watched video of is Thomas.
"He's a great point guard and he does a great job of getting in the paint," Pressey said. "Just having him on the team, that makes it easier for myself.
Pressey realized his playing time would be reduced considerably with the addition of Thomas in a trade-deadline deal with the Phoenix Suns, so the opportunity to contribute has been rewarding.
"It feels great to be able to go out there and play, and we're winning, so that's a plus," Pressey said. "Just know your opportunity is going to come sooner or later. Take care of what you can control and everything will fall into place."
Coach Brad Stevens believes Pressey's success is tied to the overall strength of the reserves.
"I think he's a good player," Stevens said. "Phil's played a great three games and we wouldn't be in this situation without him."