Gerald Wallace Declines Player Option, Becomes Free Agent

According to Legion Sports, Gerald Wallace will tell the Brooklyn Nets that he will decline his $9.5 million player option and will become an unrestricted free agent.

In what could be the worst trade this decade, the Nets traded Shawne Williams, Mehmet Okur, and a 2012 top-3 protected 1st round draft pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for Wallace. The Nets’ draft pick ended up being #6, so it will be sent to Portland to complete the deal. The Nets gave up all of that for roughly 20 games of Wallace.

Now that the Charlotte Bobcats all-time leading scorer is a free agent, will Wallace go back there and become an icon or sign with a contender? I name a few teams that currently need his services and have the cap space to offer him a contract.

Wallace has a weird NBA contract. His contract ends 15 days before the NBA Draft, so theoretically the Nets could use that information and draft to fill the need. Unfortunately, Portland owns their first round pick and the Golden State Warriors own their 2nd round pick (#35 overall). They do own the Miami Heat’s 2nd round pick (#57 overall) and Draft Express currently has the Nets using that pick on Mike Scott, a 6’8 power forward from Virginia.

Even though Wallace is a free agent earlier than the rest of the class, he will still be under the same rules. He cannot start negotiating with a team until July 1st and will not be able to officially sign until July 11th.

Which teams are in need of Wallace and could afford to pay him?

The first team that comes to mind is the Charlotte Bobcats. Unfortunately, they have three ridiculous contracts on the books for 2012-13: Corey Maggette $10.9 million, Tyrus Thomas $8 million, and DeSagana Diop $7.4 million. Diop and Maggette’s contracts will come off the books after next season, but the Bobcats will still owe Thomas $18+ million. Maggette could be a trade piece mid-season, since he is still productive, but Diop and Thomas are unmovable. Charlotte could afford to give Wallace a deal, even with a couple bad contracts on the books.

My fingers are crossed that the Bobcats sign Wallace this offseason. It has been a rough season for my friend Ben Swanson. He is SBNation’s Charlotte Bobcats blogger at Rufus On Fire. It could heal the pain he has endured by being a Bobcats fan the last few years.

Depending on their selections in the NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers could be in the market for Wallace. A lot of mock drafts have them selecting either PF/C Andre Drummond (UConn) or PF Thomas Robinson (Kansas) with the #4 overall pick. If Bradley Beal falls to them, Wallace could be in play for Cleveland. He would be a nice complement to both Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson.

The Dallas Mavericks could end up poaching both of the marquee free agents from the Brooklyn Nets. All of the rumors point to Deron Williams declining his player option and signing with Dallas. In order to sign Wallace, Dallas would need to use their amnesty clause on Brendan Haywood. He is due to make $27+ million over the next three seasons.

The final team that I believe could go after Wallace would be the Boston Celtics. If Danny Ainge decides to go in a different direction and opts to not re-sign Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the money would be there for a few marquee signings. It is a long shot because of their need for a center and that Wallace does a lot of things that Brandon Bass could be doing for the Boston next season. Ainge is unpredictable and he could try to reconstruct the next ‘Big Three.’

The Brooklyn Nets find themselves in a bad situation. They are due to open their new arena in Brooklyn without a notable player to appear on billboards. Deron Williams is expected to decline his player option and will leave the Nets with MarShon Brooks as the face of their franchise. I would have said Brook Lopez, but the Nets have been throwing him out there as bait for both Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum over the last two seasons. I’m not sure if the fans actually see him as a player or just a trade commodity.

In the end, the NBA Draft will dictate where Gerald Wallace will end up. If a team misses out on a SF/PF scoring option, Wallace will end up on their wishlist.

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