Adrian Wojnarowski, who I like a lot, is reporting that the Cavs have discussed it, no deal is imminent. This is another one of those “according to a league source” who asked for anonymity because they’re full of it. Who are these people? I understand wanting to be the first and to let fans know about movement before it happens. I love having the fodder for the forums here as well as something to write about. What I don’t like or really even understand, is how the entire sphere of media that cover this sport have become rumor mongers and “if this, then this” guessers and hacks like the rest of us.
Is it a good trade? For reasons of savings and cap value and whatever else? Yeah, why not? Gerald Wallace is due anywhere from $19 to $22 million dollars over the next 2 years. Some places report Gerald gets paid $10.5 every year, some say it ramps up over the years…who knows but the guy is the highest paid player the Bobcats have. Is Michael Jordan that concerned about saving money that he’d give up the one All-Star on the team for a trade exception? Not only that but toss in a first rounder?
The idea, as Steve Kyler at HoopsWorld points out, is to get the trade exception from Cleveland then turn it around for other pieces that would help towards another playoff run. Seems logical, except for the fact that neither Cleveland nor Toronto have been able to do anything with the exceptions they received when their star players each took their talents to South Beach in sign-and-trades. True, they may be waiting it out until the trade deadline to see what team is most desperate for them. To me, it’s a foreign concept, trading guys for a slip of paper that says “redeemable for ‘x’ amount of contracts.” However, the Bobcats shed the final year of Tyson Chandler’s massive deal for Dampier’s non-guaranteed contract, hoo-dooed into taking back Matt Carroll and Eddie Najera. Unable to trade Damp’s nothing for something, the Bobcats simply cut him, he ended up in Miami and the Bobcats wound up under the luxury tax.
It’s a tricky balance of competition, sport, business and fan support. You don’t want to alienate your fans, you don’t want to look cheap but at the same time you don’t want to be strapped by contracts and you don’t want to kill yourself long term. In my opinion, if this trade is simply Cleveland’s $14.5 million trade exception for Gerald Wallace and a lottery protected first round pick, it would legitimately spell the end for NBA Basketball in Charlotte. Another cheap owner, another star player lost, another few years hoping to be good. It’d be the Hornets all over again. We all loved Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning, then when it came time to re-up with them, Shinn let them go. ”We’re not going to be saddled by one or two guys.” Well guess what? You aren’t going to be saddled by fans either. No one wants to show up to see guys just good enough to keep the team going or just good enough to make the 8th spot in the playoffs. You don’t make money that way and we don’t show up and buy jerseys that way.
Gerald Wallace is one of those players that’s a great hustle guy, energy and occasionally incredible plays. He lacks the polish, skill and knack for large moments that guys like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmello Anthony and the like have. He’s not elite but he’s damn good. He’s Scottie Pippen. He’d be the best player on a good team but not quite enough to make that team great. Sure, injuries are an issue, like anyone in the NBA who logs more than 30 minutes a night creeping up on 30. And yes, they have been exacerbated by his wreckless, out of control style. Hell, he punctured a lung on Andrew Bynum’s elbow, had to take a bus back East because he couldn’t fly because of what the pressure changes would do to a partially collapsed lung. But that’s what we love about the guy. What he lacks in skill and panache, he more than makes up for in hustle.
I wouldn’t want Gerald Wallace to play anywhere else, like I wouldn’t want Steve Smith or Jon Beason anywhere else. I thought the same about Ol’ Johnny Fox too, but look, he’s gone and time goes on. Things aren’t going to play out perfectly. You don’t get to see a guy you took in the expansion draft blossom then fade and then finally retire, all while winning 2 championships and keeping him through salary ups and downs. But what you can expect is for your team to do right by guys like that and its fans. I don’t think that $10 or $11 million a year is too much to pay for Gerald Wallace and moreover, I don’t think you’ll get near the efficiency and production out of two guys that you’d get out of Gerald Wallace for that price. It’s like the sweet spot of production to salary. Plus if you factor in what it would mean to this already sensitive city and fan-base….you have to think about keeping him long-term and not letting him go for a damn TRADE EXCEPTION!
It made me so mad earlier, not that it might happen but that it was coming up right now, today. The team just got him back, Bobcats are rolling along, 6-2 under Silas. Gerald only played in 3 of the games since Silas became coach, so the logic says they can win without him. Truth is, they haven’t been without him. After Gerald Henderson’s break-out performance, sure Wallace was there to pick on him in his first ever “player of the game” post-game interview, but he has to be the rock in the locker room. He’s been a bit petulant in the past, quotes come out about Sam Vincent (“Sam Vincent? To be honest with you, I don’t know what his concept was.”), Tyson Chandler (“Can you fix somebody’s heart? That’s a personal thing.”), even about his teammates this year but he’s the guy, he’s the leader and I believe that he’s been taken under Jordan’s wing and has made some Jordan-like comments.
My main issue with this discussion, other than it being completely lopsided and possibly damning to the franchise, is the timing. The Bobcats have a huge game tonight in Boston. Their one solid victory under Silas coming Wednesday night, the Bobcats have to win or at least look and seem legit tonight against Boston. While I know that players are used to this stuff, I still think it hurts a fragile, friendly group that’s coming together. It may turn around, where Wallace gets super pissed (as I would) at being discussed to be traded for nothing to a team that has lost 10 straight to a city in a tailspin over losing Lebron James, and he comes out and dominates against Boston, with little or no one on that team that can match him. It pisses me off that a guy in the league office or someone in a team office says to a guy “Hey, we’ve talked about trading with Charlotte for Gerald Wallace,” can get me so pissed off. It bothers me when it’s my team and I can understand how fans in Denver, New Jersey and Detroit feel.
Remains to be seen, but it’s a really bad gamble to take. Would people not renew season tickets based on Wallace leaving? Would the hole he leaves be an enduring one that this team would have a hard time shaking off? For this season, anything less than playoffs is a bust, would losing Wallace cause that bust? How much would it kill a young franchise to ride that escalator up and not see anyone that is currently on the team on any of the walls? I don’t know but I really don’t like wondering about it.