The Brooklyn Nets came up empty in the NBA Draft Lottery last Wednesday as they had to surrender their first round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers as part of the trade for Gerald Wallace at this year’s trade deadline. The Nets offered Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams, and their first round pick, top 3 protected, in exchange for Wallace’s services. GM Billy King has praised Wallace multiple times. He once said, “what Gerald Wallace brings to the table is a lot better than some of the other guys.” Now, Wallace plans to opt out of his contract with the Nets and become a free agent.
Now that the Nets have given up their first round pick, they are under immense pressure to re-sign Gerald Wallace once he enters free agency. If they do not re-sign him, then they would have traded their first round draft pick for absolutely nothing. Billy King knows that he cannot let this happen.
Gerald Wallace and his agent, Rob Pelinka, also know how badly King needs to re-sign Wallace. As a result, they could try demanding an excessively long-term contract and a ridiculous annual salary. This would be disastrous for the Nets because their main advantage over other teams right now is salary cap space. One bad contract could keep the Nets from signing other great players for years to come. Needless to say, if Wallace signs a huge contract with the Nets, Brooklyn could not also acquire both Deron Williams and Dwight Howard this offseason because salary cap space is limited.
However, I am not that worried about the Wallace contract negotiations. From his consistent, intense play with the Nets late in the season, I can tell that he isn’t all about making money. He plays in the NBA because he loves basketball and competition. Also, he has stated to the press that he is excited about the Nets’ move to Brooklyn. I don’t think he wants to ruin it by demanding an enormous contract. Also, Billy King isn’t going to give in if Wallace makes excessive demands. Earlier this offseason, King declared “we’re not going to be held hostage [by Gerald Wallace].”
All in all, I expect Wallace to sign a 3 year contract with the Nets and earn a similar salary to what Travis Outlaw earned before the Nets amnestied him.