- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Nets have agreed to acquire Blazers forward Gerald Wallace in exchange for the expiring contract of center Mehmet Okur, injured small forward Shawne Williams and their 2012 first-round pick, top-3 protected. The trade has yet to be made official.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Nets had to go with Plan B. They wanted Magic center Dwight Howard. He was their Plan A. But those hopes were shockingly dashed -- for now -- when Howard changed his mind again and officially waived his early termination option, keeping him in Orlando through 2012-13. Point guard Deron Williams is likely to opt out, but has expressed his desire to stay with the Nets once they head to Brooklyn next season, assuming they can put the right pieces around him and become a contender. Wallace is certainly a piece that can help appease Williams and dissuade him from leaving, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done on that end.
WHO’S GERALD? Wallace, 29, is an athletic 6-foot-7, 220-pounder who can play both forward positions and fill up the stat sheet. He’s currently averaging 13.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.6 blocks in 35.8 minutes per game on 47.2 percent shooting -- including 26.5 percent from 3-point range. But his PER is just 15.55, the lowest its been since 2004-05, his third season in the league. Wallace, a 2010 All-Star and All-Defensive First Team selection, averages 1.3 points per play in transition, third-best in the NBA this season. According to Hoopdata.com, Wallace is slated to make $9.5 million in 2011-12 and has a player option at the same amount for 2012-13.
RISK FACTOR: Many have considered this a deep draft. If the season ended Thursday, the Nets would have the fifth pick, pending the lottery. So they may wind up surrendering a top-5 pick for a player who makes them a little bit better. Given that Wallace may exercise his option, the Nets could lose $9.5 million in cap space in the summer of 2012.
NET THOUGHTS: Maybe the Nets don’t feel as strongly about this draft as everyone else. Maybe they feel they can make a late playoff push. Maybe they love Wallace and think he can really help them. Perhaps Williams, who has been directly involved in management decisions, wanted Wallace, and the Nets were willing to make the move as a result. It’s also possible that their pick becomes top-3 and they end up adding Wallace for next to nothing. And finally, if D-12 becomes available again next season, Wallace is a piece they could move in a deal.
GIVING UP: Okur and Williams have been major disappointments this season. Williams shot 24.1 percent from 3-point range before going down ith a season-ending foot injury. Okur has been dealing with back problems all season, and hasn’t played since Jan. 25.
REMEMBER THIS? The Nets were willing to give up center Brook Lopez and five first-rounders to get Howard in a three-team blockbuster deal that would’ve sent Wallace to the Magic.
MY TAKE: Losing Howard is tough. Settling for Wallace is even tougher. He’s a solid player and certainly makes the Nets better, but is he enough to convince Williams to stay? There’s a lot of risk involved in this move given the quality of the pick they gave up. Ever since GM Billy King took over, the Nets have made smart and calculated decisions. Time will tell how this one turns out. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done.