May 27, 1997
During 16 years at the college and professional levels, Chris Wallace
has built a reputation as an astute evaluator of basketball talent.
Wallace, officially introduced as the Celtics' general manager yesterday
at a press conference, will put his reputation on the line almost
immediately in his new job.
"We have some
time left to prepare for the draft but obviously we will be moving
quickly in the next few weeks," said Wallace, 38, the Miami Heat's
director of college and international scouting the past two years. "It's
no secret Tim Duncan was the guy to get in the draft, but there are
other players out there who can help."
the players for the Celtics' two lottery slots in the June 25 draft -
Nos.3 and 6 overall - is Wallace's first order of business. Wallace, who
replaces longtime general manager Jan Volk, will work alongside Rick Pitino
to give the team a bird's-eye view of incoming talent in preparation
for one of the most significant drafts in franchise history.
"When I first came aboard I wanted a general manager who could wear a number of different hats," said Pitino,
named Celtics' coach and president on May 6. "Sort of a combination of
general manager-player personnel director and someone who has a vast
array of talents in the evaluating area.
that I mean someone who feels very comfortable going over to Europe and
dealing with European agents, in dealing in the CBA - someone who has
great knowledge of the current players in the NBA, who has vast
knowledge of high school basketball players.
is someone who, when you mention all of those areas, would have to be
unique. Right away I thought of only one person who could fit this bill
and that was Chris Wallace. The problem was getting Chris Wallace away
from the Miami Heat, where he was thought of very highly."
The solution was a deal. Pitino swapped second-round draft positions with Miami, exchanging the 30th overall pick for the 55th.
"I think he's worth a couple of first-round picks because he's the best I've seen in a long time," said Pitino,
who has known Wallace since the coach's days at Boston University.
"Chris is not afraid of getting in at 5 in the morning, of getting no
sleep and of doing anything humanly possible to take on a team that has
won 15 games and put together an organization that can be competitive at
a rapid pace."
Wallace tackled a similar
scenario for Pat Riley in Miami, and the results were positive. The
Heat, who have struggled for much of their NBA existence, won a
franchise-record 61 games this season and advanced to the Eastern
"I've gotten great
experience the last two years working on Pat Riley's team," said
Wallace, who previously had scouted for Portland, Denver, New York and
the Clippers. "Pat has set the standard on how this coaching-president's
role should be fulfilled.
"Today a coach
can be president and he can still coach, but he needs people out there
bringing him back well-informed and researched scenarios and laying the
menu in front of him. The coach needs a management team out there so he
can free his mind of those type of responsibilities."
delegation system worked well in Miami, where Wallace brought in
borderline pros (Voshon Lenard, Isaac Austin) who have since become key
members of Riley's rotation. If Wallace believes there's a player or
trade available to help the cause, his track record suggests he will
explore all avenues.
"We're going to look
under every stone worldwide to come up with players who can win for
Rick," said Wallace, who first made a name for himself in talent
evaluation as founder of the popular Blue Ribbon College Basketball
Yearbook. "We're going to be very aggressive in all aspects of the
"Chris Wallace is the ultimate Basketball Benny. Name a player in
Siberia, he'll have a line on him. You won't stump him on a player. He
knows every player, he knows the agents very well and everybody likes
him as a person. I think this is the perfect hire."
The perfect hire knows he will have his hands full the next few weeks helping Pitino
formulate a game plan for the draft and beyond. Wallace expects to be
so busy, in fact, he has postponed plans to find a home in the area.
find an apartment nearby and live there for the time being," said
Wallace, whose wife Debby gave birth to the couple's first child,
Truman, on May 17. "Right now the most important thing is to get started
here because there's so much to do.
"It's going to be a great challenge, but for me the opportunity to work with Rick Pitino on the most storied franchise in basketball is the culmination of a lifelong dream."