Wallace Trade Fits Portland Plan
The Portland Trail Blazers and New Jersey Nets have agreed in principle (pending league approval) to send forward Gerald Wallace to the Nets in exchange for injured center Mehmet Okur, forward Shawne Williams, and a protected 2012 first-round pick.
The deal was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
The pick is New Jersey’s own, top-three protected.
The Blazers came into this trade deadline with the plan to clear the contracts of players not part of their future from their 2012-13 cap. Wallace has a $9.5 Player Option he could exercise. Williams also has a Player Option, but for only $3.1 million.
The net result for the Blazers is they have a higher cap figure for 2011-12 (an additional $4.1 million, putting them just under the luxury tax line) but clear an additional $6.4 million for next season (the difference between Wallace and Williams) while also getting themselves a lottery pick in one of the deepest drafts in recent history.
Depending on how Williams fits in the rest of this season, he may be encouraged to decline invoking his Player Option and become a free agent this July.
If Williams stays with the Blazers they will be roughly $22 million under the cap this summer before they re-sign Nicolas Batum and pay two first-round picks (their own and this one from Jersey). They are still trying to trade Jamal Crawford’s $5.2 million Player Option in 2012-13 for an ending contract as well, which would clear more cap space.
The short-term lineup impact for the Blazers will have Batum moving back his natural small forward position in the starting lineup and Wesley Matthews should move back to starting at shooting guard. Okur, who hasn’t played since January 25th with back issues, likely won’t figure too much into Portland’s rotation, at least initially. Williams is also out for the season after surgery on his foot, so the Blazers will see what second-year forward Luke Babbitt can give them on a nightly basis.
Portland will have to waive a player to clear a roster spot. It could be Okur, injured center Greg Oden, or reserve forward Chris Johnson. Neither Okur or Williams can be waived to make this trade official; it has to be someone on the existing roster.
Stay tuned – Portland probably isn’t done yet.
From a New Jersey perspective, this fits their goals too. With Dwight Howard no longer a trade possibility and not a free agent until 2013, they need to add talent to Deron Williams to keep him around and defer their potential cap space to 2013. Adding Wallace works to that end, but the cost of the lottery pick has to be considered high, though they do still have Houston’s 2012 first-round pick (top-14 protected).
A healthy lineup of Williams, rookie MarShon Brooks, Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez isn’t a team to discount in the East, if they do in fact put that team on the floor. The Nets may not be done yet either.