Tuesday, May 1, 2012
GM hopes to keep Gerald Wallace
By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King expects small forward Gerald Wallace to decline the opt-in clause in his contract and become a free agent, but King hopes to re-sign the 30-year-old veteran to a multiyear contract extension.
"I told him that in his [exit] meeting as well that he deserves a multiyear deal," King said during a wide-ranging postseason news conference on Tuesday morning at the team's practice facility. "The reality is, being 30 years old, this is probably one of his last chances to get a nice contract. Our goal is to try to get him to the point where he's comfortable with the numbers, we're comfortable with the numbers and we keep him in the fold."
Wallace said last week that he doesn't want to play on a one-year deal. He has a $9.5 million player option and until June 13 to send the Nets a letter saying he's going to opt in, but he isn't expected to do so. He'd then become free to sign with any team on July 1, the first day of free agency.
"It doesn't mean Gerald's saying he's leaving. It's just that it's the way the CBA works and how you get your deals [in the NBA]," King said.
King could sign Wallace to an extension right now, but could only add two years onto the $9.5 million he'd be slated to make in 2012-13. But if Wallace becomes a free agent, it would allow for more flexibility in negotiations.
The Nets consider Wallace "a core piece," and would like to lock him up. After all, they gave up their top-3 protected 2012 first-round pick to acquire him in a trade deadline deal with the Portland Trail Blazers. In 16 games with the Nets, Wallace averaged 15.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists.
Wallace has said he'd like to come back, but will likely be courted by other teams as well.
Wallace is one of 11 potential free agents on the team. The Nets only have four players with guaranteed contracts: MarShon Brooks, Johan Petro, Jordan Williams and Anthony Morrow.
Superstar point guard Deron Williams is likely to be the biggest free agent. Williams has reiterated his intentions to opt out and become a free agent. The 27-year-old is expected to be the most talented player available on the market.
"I feel pretty good [about being able to keep him]," King said. "I think I haven't wavered all year in my thought process.
"Our goal is to win. I consider him the best point guard in the league."
Williams hasn't ruled out signing a max contract extension with the Nets, assuming they put the right players around him. He's said the Nets need to add more veteran pieces to the roster.
That should be easier now, with the team slated to move into the $1 billion Barclays Center before the start of next season. While King said his greatest asset going into free agency was "money," he obviously was quick to mention the new arena and the new borough as well.
"We have cap space, and the potential to add more cap space," King said.
Center Brook Lopez (restricted), power forward Kris Humphries (unrestricted) and small forward Gerald Green (unrestricted) are the other "core pieces" King was referring to.
King said he's spoken with all of the team's impending and possible free agents, and has told them whether he wants them back, but wouldn't mention any names.
King said he'll visit with Bojan Bogdanovic, one of the team's second-round picks in 2011, next week. Bogdanovic is currently playing overseas in Turkey with Fenerbahce. The Nets hold his rights, but he doesn't have an NBA out in his contract until 2013.
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.