March 13, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Portland Trail Blazers small forward Gerald Wallace (3) has the ball stripped by Indiana Pacers small forward Danny Granger (33) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE
Bottom line: the Nets believe they can make the playoffs in their last year in New Jersey, something they may need to do to persuade Deron Williams to stay beyond July 1. For the Nets, there is nothing more important than having a superstar take the court at Barclays Center October 31. That includes draft protections or player options. Of course, it's particularly true after Dwight Howard left the Nets at the altar.
And Gerald Wallace isn't a bad player. In fact, he could be quite good.
- D'Alessandro: In acquiring Gerald Wallace, Nets taking chance on 'heart' - Dave D'Alessandro - Star-Ledger
- Numbers Game: Nets bring in Wallace - Scott Cullen - TSN
The Nets Find a Deal, the Knicks Stand Pat at the Trade Deadline - Seth Rosenthal - New York Magazine
Trail Blazers make a strong stand, but leave a big "?" at the NBA Trade Deadline - John Canzano - Oregonian
The Nets Acquire:
--Gerald Wallace, 6'7", 220 pounds. Wallace is a 11-year NBA veteran, drafted by the Kings at age 18 in 2001, and picked up in the expansion draft by the Bobcats three years later. He was traded to the Trail Blazers last year at the deadline. As tough a player as there is in the NBA, he can play both forward positions.
The Nets have him rated in the top ten of small forwards in the NBA, but his numbers have been slipping. His player efficiency rating is 15.5 this season, the lowest since 2004-05. The same is true of his scoring average. His three point shooting percentage (26.5) is the lowest it's been since 2007-08. His overall shooting percentage (47.2) is slightly off his career highs.Same with his minutes.
The Nets have long liked him, in both the Rod Thorn and Billy King era. They tried to acquire him for four first round picks in December so they could include him in a three-team deal to acquire Dwight Howard. Deron Williams is also a big fan. He makes $9.5 million this year and has a player option for the same salary next year. The $9.5 million price tag could go up a couple of million with incentives which are tied to team and individual performance.
As Dave D'Alessandro writes Thursday, "There is no better hustle player in the league, period -- he is scary-fearless, absolutely demented in desire to pursue the ball, disruptive at every defensive station, and nothing stops him from his appointed rounds, not even the absurd abuse he takes to that Gumby body." Not everyone is a fan. Nate McMillan, fired Friday as coach of the Blazers thought he was "back-biting and subversive", reports John Canzano of the Oregonian.
With a soft schedule, the anticipated return of Deron Williams and Brook Lopez and the acquisition of Wallace, the Nets believe they have a shot at the playoffs ... or make D-Will believe they have done all they can.
The Trail Blazers Acquire:
--Mehmet Okur, 6'11", 260. Acquired just before Christmas to fill in for the injured Brook Lopez, he has played only 17 games. At age 32, Okur is nothing more than an expiring contract. He hasn't played since January 25 and is unlikely to play again, maybe ever. His recurrent back spasms have failed to respond to treatment over the past two years. Turkish basketball sites have reported that this is his last season and that he has already played his last game. His $10.9 million is doubly valuable in a trade since insurance will pay 80% of his contract.
--Shawne Williams, 6'9" 220. Williams showed up at camp out of shape after the Nets gave him a $6.1 million, two year deal. Moreover, he had a pre-existing condition with his left foot that everyone, including him, thought was in his past. His lack of conditioning made things worse and over the course of the season, he fell victim to shin splints and then shoulder problems. He is the worst shooter in the NBA year, with averages of 28.6% and 24.1% in 25 games. He underwent surgery last month on his foot. Three screws were placed in the foot, jeopardizing his return to previous form.
--Nets first round pick, 2012. If the Draft took place today, the Nets would have the fifth pick, depending on how the lottery gods smiled on them. But under terms of the deal agreed to today, the pick would have to be surrendered to the Blazers since it isn't in the top three. That's what protection means. The Nets believe that there are three immediate impact players in the draft and since they are all about now and Deron Williams, giving up that much in protection makes sense. And the argument goes, if they make the playoffs, they won't be getting a lottery pick anyway and the thrill of making the playoffs will make everyone forget. But if they don't make the playoffs and on Lottery Night in NEWARK, the Brooklyn Nets have to surrender the fourth pick in the draft, there will be second guessing far greater than there was today.
Everything of course has to be seen in the context of what didn't happen on Friday. Everyone, including the Nets, went to bed Wednesday believing the long dream of pairing two superstars for Brooklyn was within reach. For whatever reason, Dwight Howard decided he was going to stay in Orlando, forget about the financial benefits of signing this season, forget about a big shoe deal with Adidas (marketing flip-flops?). He is all about loyalty... and immaturity.
If Howard and Williams would have been standing at a press conference next week holding up their new Brooklyn Nets uniform jerseys, Williams was sure to stay. Now, it's getting tense. It does appear that he wants to stay. He and family love New York. He is aware of the marketing opportunities. He continues to praise the owner, GM and coach. However, he hates losing. So the Nets made a move to win now...as strange as that may seem.
On the positive side, the Nets retained all their good young players, those between the ages of 23 and 26: Brook Lopez, Marshon Brooks, Jordan Farmar, Bojan Bogdanovic, Anthony Morrow and Gerald Green, along with the Bird Rights to Kris Humphries and the Rockets' lottery protected pick. (They failed to get rid of Johan Petro). And Green is likely to be signed to a vets minimum deal this weekend.
The next week will be critical for the Nets to make this trade look good. Wallace may even join them Friday in Orlando. He played Wednesday night in New York. Can he get acclimated enough quickly enough to have an impact? He's never played with a truly great point guard. As far as the playoff run, can Williams stay healthy, can Lopez return healthy, can the Nets play hard enough to win? If they don't this trade could look ugly.