Gerald Wallace is a veteran that gives his all every time he takes the court. He wants to win and he wants to be a positive influence on the guys around him. He's also currently my least favorite Celtic.
Stepping outside my skin for a moment, that seems pretty odd. I mean, I'm like most Celtics fans in that I will defend a less talented player that works hard and gives the team all he has without excuses. I suppose at some point, a guy's paycheck does factor into the equation. I'm happy to give a rookie or vet. min. guy a roster spot to see what they can give us. I'm less excited to see a guy making $10M with a PER of 9.5.
His postgame rants after large losses are nothing new. He's been doing them his whole career. He's also usually pretty much spot on in his analysis on a micro-scale. When you get blown out by 20+ points, chances are pretty good that at some point you weren't giving the full effort that you should have been. But every team has a stinker once in a while. By all means head into the lockerroom and rip your teammates behind closed doors, but spare me the speech when the microphones are in your face.
Still, all of that said, none of that really matters all that much. The number one reason I'm not enjoying the Gerald Wallace experience is the $20M over 2 years that he's owed after this year. That's a lot of scratch for a backup wing who's afraid to shoot jumpers.
In theory you could do a lot with an extra $10M off the books. Be it free agents or trades or whatever, that extra cap flexibility could be used in a number of ways. So is there a way to get rid of Gerald Wallace and pick up a windfall of cap flexibility? Let's review some options.
1. Trade him for an expiring contract (or at least someone with fewer future dollars and/or years). I can't tell you how many minutes (hours?) I've spent on the Trade Machine looking for deals that make sense for both teams. Here's what I've concluded. The only way someone's taking that salary is if we toss in a 1st round draft pick to go with it. Maybe someone would agree to take the Sixers pick (that isn't even guaranteed to be a 1st rounder) but I doubt it. One of the only teams with the cap space to take him on for another pick is... the Sixers. Why trade for a pick you might get back anyway? Bottom line, nobody wants that contract without taking our picks and obviously we're in the business of adding picks right now.
2. Waive him with the stretch provision. Here's the Larry Coon explanation of the Stretch Rule.
If the player is waived from September 1 to June 30, then the current season is paid per the normal payment schedule, and any remaining years are stretched over twice the number of years remaining plus one as described above.
So for Gerald Wallace, his salary would be counted as a cap hit of about $4M over 5 years instead of 2 years, $10M. Pick your poison. Do you want his cap hit being a drag on the books for the next 5 years after this one? Or would you rather just take the pain now and get him off the books in 2.5 years? We know we aren't competing this year and the chances of signing a max free agent this summer are pretty slim, so there doesn't seem to be a huge rush to clear his cap number.
Also, in a year and a half, he magically becomes a trade asset as his contract becomes an expiring deal. Lastly, he might even be useful in terms of matching salaries in the near term. It isn't likely, but it is possible that a deal could be formulated that is big enough to require including his contract (along with expirings). Here again, his inclusion in a deal would be a net negative, so you'd probably have to include a pick to make it happen. But if you stretch him, you lose that option forever.
3. Just wait it out. Like I said, he's a hard worker, he seems to be a good guy, he's not to blame for what his paycheck says. He's not the first guy that saw his skills decline before the end of his large contract and he won't be the last. I'm convinced that at least one of the picks the Nets included in the deal was sent to us specifically because we were taking on his salary. Danny did that with both eyes wide open. If that pick turns out to be a great player or is packaged in a deal to get us a great player, then paying Wallace $30M over 3 years is totally worth it (hey, it isn't my money).
Granted, anything can happen. Every year an "untradable" player gets traded. It could happen with Wallace too. I'm just not banking on it, myself. Wallace is likely here for the foreseeable future. I may like that about as much as Wallace likes a 20 point loss, but both of us are going to have to just deal with it.
(Feel free to point out this article to me if he's traded a month from now.)
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