This one is gonna be a little different. On March 16, the Nets traded Shawne Williams, Mehmet Okur and what turned out to be the #6 pick in the 2012 Draft for Gerald Wallace. At the time, the pick was lambasted here and in other basketball circles around the Interwebs as giving up too much value for Wallace (the pick, not Williams/Okur). Despite the criticisms about his acquisition, Wallace actually played pretty well. He came back from injury when he didn't have/need to and was one of the only players worth watching on a team that was winding down their time in New Jersey. I covered a lot of Wallace's play as a Net in a Season In Review post a while back so there won't be any tables in this post.
OK, so we know that Wallace was a good player with the Nets, is liked by fans and management believes he deserves a multi-year contract, and might be a good player for the Nets going forward as the Nets look to build their brand in New York City. So what contract would I offer Crash?
That's the thing. I would not offer him a contract. Take the jump and I'll explain my reasoning.
Why not sign Gerald Wallace? For starters:
- Durability concerns: Over the past five seasons (starting from 2007-2008), Gerald has missed 20, 11, 6, 11 and 8 games each season respectively. Along with the games missed the past couple of seasons has been his decline in minutes per game the past three seasons. After averaging 41 minutes per game in 2009-2010, his minutes declined to 38 minutes (though thanks to Portland bringing him off the bench early on in his tenure) in 10-11 and 36 per game in 2011-2012. The amount of games missed & decline in minutes leads to
- His age and playing style. Wallace is 29, but has been in the league 11 seasons and bas logged a ton of minutes. Most importantly, his style of play. He's made his name in the league with his attacking the basket at seemingly every turn, but that hasn't been the case the past couple of seasons. After averaging over 7 attempts per game at the rim from 2007-2010, those attempts have dropped to a little over 5 per game. The more disconcerting thing about that drop was his effectiveness at the rim as a Net. Admittedly it's a small sample but he shot 50% at the rim which is something to keep an eye on going forward. Also worth noting is the amount of free throws attempted. After taking over 7 free throws per game in 2010, his attempts have declined the past two years. But what is the biggest negative for signing Wallace?
- The potential contract offers. When I saw the report that the Nets might offer Wallace a mulltiyear deal, even going as high as five years, I freaked out. Having a player that I think is on the decline and could become a negative on the court spells major disaster for the Nets. Not to mention the (even more) pissed off Net fans would be about the March trade if the #6 pick turns out to be a good player. My response to that would be doubling down on bad process (trading the pick for a player with an opt out) with even more bad process (signing Wallace to a long term deal). Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports describes this bad process perfectly:
Yes, the embarrassment of the March deal for Wallace might sting a bit in columns like these in July should he decide to head elsewhere and leave the Nets with no compensation, but that's putting up with my smarmy take in July of 2012 when February of 2015 (or before, or after) is significantly more important. Take the hit now, Brooklyn, because you already panicked and made a bad move by selling that pick off for a player that, admittedly, will be better than whoever Portland takes at that spot for the next couple of years (at one-third the price, though). There's no reason to complicate it by attempting to save face again, in the face of fans that know better, in 2012. Even if whatever contract you sign Gerald to is movable, you still have to move him for similar or smaller salaries in return.
- And because this is my second favorite thing on the Internet (Dickey face is always #1) here's the super-sexy process vs. results matrix:
To wrap this up, I still think Gerald Wallace is a decent NBA player. The problem I have with this scenario is his (lack of) durability, style of play, and, most importantly, the contract he might receive from the Nets. I'm hoping the Nets avoid what I think would be a major disaster.
Next up: The curious case of Jeff Green (remember him?)
Previous installments: Goran Dragic