After trading away their lottery pick this year (which turned into Damian Lillard) to bring Gerald Wallace to the Nets, they have now agreed to re-sign the veteran small forward to a 4 year $40 million contract. Wallace made $9.5 million this past season so it represents a small payrise from his previous deal. ESPN sources estimated that he would get around 3 years $24 million so this represents quite a generous deal by the Nets.
It makes sense that the Nets would pay to make sure they don’t end up coming out of that Portland trade with nothing, but the deal does seem like a mistake to cover up a past mistake. While Wallace is a fine player, he turns 30 years old in two weeks and is two years removed from his best season (his lone All Star appearance in his 11 year career back in 2010). Since then, he’s averaged 2-3 fewer rebounds a game, 3 fewer free throw attempts a game, and has seen his scoring average on a steady decline. He was never an elite player to begin with, and it appears that he’s now starting to lose a step, which is dangerous considering how heavily his game relies on athleticism.
It’s always possible that Wallace can reshape his game on the fly and remain effective (a la Shawn Marion). However, this deal, combined with the potential Joe Johnson trade will leave the Nets with precious little cap room, and an aging roster with little trade value. The Nets obviously wouldn’t be making such bold moves if they weren’t reasonably sure that Deron Williams is returning to the team, but the question is, will a team featuring Williams, Joe Johnson and Wallace be enough to challenge the Miami Heat?