Click through below for a monster roundup of the grades, analysis and reaction to yesterday's trade between the Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Bobcats that sent forward Gerald Wallace to Portland.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus writes...
Wallace adds an intriguing wrinkle to Nate McMillan's options. His rebounding ability makes him a better fit as a smallball four than Nicolas Batum. Wallace has been outspoken in the past about his desire not to play power forward on a full-time basis, but Aldridge's presence means that won't likely be the case with the Blazers. Instead, both players with swap back and forth between multiple positions. For that matter, with Batum's ability to defend point guards and Brandon Roy's ability to serve as a ballhandler (he strictly played the point last night in his return to the lineup after knee surgery), Portland is capable of throwing out some wildly unconventional fivesomes.
The fact is that Wallace is simply much better than the players he's replacing with the Blazers. Przybilla had been moderately effective, but Portland struggled badly with Marks on the floor and Cunningham had quietly been inefficient all year long. Now Portland gets the benefit of Aldridge in the middle with an above-average starter alongside him. Wallace may struggle to defend certain power forwards, but he is also effective as a help defender.
Wallace may be more difficult to fit in over the long term. The Blazers' payroll continues to escalate. If they hang on to Andre Miller for next season--and, unless Roy works out really well as a point guard, they have no replacement for him at the moment--they've got more than $73 million committed for 2011-12 without dealing with the Greg Oden situation. Wallace is an upgrade but also a bit of a luxury, and he may become too expensive to afford sooner rather than later.
John Hollinger of ESPN.com writes...
Wallace is at his best in the open court, and the Blazers haven't run a fast break in several years. Wallace also isn't a good outside shooter, so when combined with Marcus Camby and Andre Miller the Blazers are going to face a ton of sagging zones. And Wallace's play has dropped off fairly sharply this season; as a 28-year-old who depends heavily on his athleticism, that's a worrisome sign -- especially since he makes $10.5 million in each of the next two seasons.
Nonetheless, he gives the Blazers' wing rotation a major boost and allows Portland to make more heavy use of its best lineup, with LaMarcus Aldridge at center and Nic Batum at power forward. However, the biggest upgrades comes from what he replaces. For the past month, Portland has effectively relied on five quality players (Aldridge, Batum, Miller, Wesley Matthews and Rudy Fernandez) and filled in the gaps with replacement-level output from a series of situational subs.
It's not a perfect fit, but considering it cost them only two draft picks -- one of which they won't owe until at least 2013, the other a pick from the New Orleans Hornets that they acquired for little-used Jerryd Bayless earlier this season -- it's about as good as they could have possibly hoped to do.
Bill Simmons of ESPN.com writes...
In the past six months, the Bobcats gave away three of their best four players (Ray Felton, Gerald Wallace and Tyson Chandler) with two first-round picks to show for it: New Orleans' 2011 first-rounder (in the 20s) and Portland's 2011 first-rounder (ditto). That's a catastrophe. Even worse, you can't totally blame them: Nobody goes to their games, nobody watches them, and if they can't compete for a title, what's the sense of competing at all? Why not bottom out and hope for a miracle? Contract these guys. Move them to Vancouver. Move them to Seattle. Do something. The only way this situation could get worse is if Stephen Jackson decides to run into the stands and start inexplicably punching people.
Meanwhile, Portland stumbled into a front line of Marcus Camby, LaMarcus Aldridge (playing out of his freaking mind), Wallace and Nicolas Batum. Super-duper intriguing, especially from a rebounding standpoint: Camby and Wallace crash the boards as well as anyone at their positions. If Brandon Roy gives them anything, wouldn't Portland be lurking as a late bloomer this spring? Portland's crunch-time scorer (Aldridge) is playing as well as anyone in the West right now. You're telling me you'd want to play a Game 6 in Portland down 3-2? And besides, isn't the West totally up for grabs, or am I crazy? It's about time MJ did something nice for Portland -- he's been haunting the Trail Blazers for three decades much like Stevie Nicks haunted Lindsey Buckingham.
Zach Lowe of SI.com writes...
Nicolas Batum and Rudy Fernandez
Both of these guys have gone in and out of favor with Nate McMillan, who has criticized Batum's passive approach on offense and Fernandez's attitude and inconsistency. But both have kept their spots in McMillan's rotation because they're talented, and because McMillan's roster has been so thin.
Now comes Gerald Wallace, a tough, physical wing player who can run the floor with these guys but can attack the rim in a way neither Portland youngster can - yet. McMillan is going to love him.
Both guys are set to be restricted free agents after next season, when their rookie deals expire. The competition for minutes - and dollars - just got a little tougher.
Rob Mahoney of ProBasketballTalk.com writes...
Assuming that Wallace introduces any kind of minute/positional crunch could be wishful thinking. Wallace's production has declined rather sharply this season, primarily because of his complacency within Charlotte's offense. His field goal percentage had fallen to the lowest of his Bobcats career (.433), in part because Wallace is taking (and missing) more jumpers than ever before, and getting to the rim less and less. This season's Wallace has not been an accurate representation of his Bobcats career; he's capable of more, but whether he's willing to provide that dynamic slashing for the Blazers has yet to be determined. In principle, Wallace could be an interesting piece for Portland. But if we take him at face value based on his performance this season, it would be a stretch to see him as anything more than a good defensive addition and boost to the Blazers' wing depth. Even then, losing Cunningham, Przybilla, and Marks obliterates Portland's rotation of bigs, and puts Camby and Aldridge on an island.
There's no reason for Portland not to make this trade, but for the moment it relies on the Blazers playing a lot of small-ball and Wallace reversing course mid-season. It's palatable as an idea, but could be very different when we see the product on the court.
Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk.com writes...
Portland Trail Blazers (Out: Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham. In: Gerald Wallace.) The Blazers did well with this one. They are taking on more long term salary but Wallace and Nicolas Batum give them fantastic defensive wing players. Man, if Brandon Roy were healthy this team would be scary. Grade A-
Mike Prada of SB Nation writes...
I don't see where he plays. He's better as a small forward, but with the presence of Nicolas Batum, he'll have to play a lot at power forward ... which would force LaMarcus Aldridge to center ... which would remove a lot of Marcus Camby's minutes ... which would hurt Portland's interior defense. It's interesting for a fantasy team, but in reality, it's going to be tough to find minutes for all these players.
The other thing is that Wallace isn't the player he once was, at least this season. His rebounding is down. His shot attempts at the rim are down. His scoring efficiency is way down. Maybe it's a one-year trend, or maybe, after years of throwing his body around and suffering a number of injuries, Wallace is finally starting to decline. If so, the price tag acquired to get him -- a couple mid-first round picks and two important frontcourt reserves -- suddenly looks a lot worse.
I'd like this trade better if Portland got a better fit for what they needed, but I can't help but think Wallace is the wrong guy for them. Grade: C
Ben Swanson of RufusOnFire.com writes...
Gerald Wallace is truly atypical in today's NBA - in the best way possible. He won't tip-toe around tough questions in the locker room and he worked his way up from expansion pick to all-star through hard work and effort that he built around his talent.
However, the team still has to make this move. The Bobcats have been drifting around the 7th-8th seed in the Eastern Conference for the past few years now. There hasn't been much of any room to improve either as the team was built around veterans. As such, the Bobcats had to deal one of their veteran players for young talent and/or draft picks to initiate the rebuilding process. And as heartbreaking as it was, Wallace obviously got the best value from other teams, so the Bobcats felt they had to make the move.
And I don't blame them in the least. I love Crash, but getting two first round draft picks and decent young talent in Cunningham is a good deal. I don't have any clue what the conditions are on the draft picks but it looks like the 2011 one will be around 20th overall. The 2013 pick is an unknown at this point. While we didn't get to fleece Minnesota for a top pick, two first round picks around 20th overall is pretty nice. Couple that with our sure-to-be lottery pick, and the Bobcats could be looking at a very solid young core - if they draft well.
Christopher Reina of RealGM.com writes...
The value of a player like Wallace to a team like Portland is his versatility. He can defend any wing in the league and also hold his own against a fair amount of the power forwards. The Blazers have successfully been going small with greater frequency later and playing Wallace, Batum and Matthews together at the two through four positions creates uncomfortable match-ups for opposing teams. Their collective strengths become greater than the sum of their parts if they hit all cylinders as Rich Cho predicts.
Offensively, Wallace has regressed from the efficient numbers he posted as an All-Star in 09-10. He had a TS% of 58.5% in 08-09 and 58.6% in 09-10, but that has dropped to 53.0% this season. His offense is coming with the jumper this season instead of at the rim and the evolution is glaring.
We'll see if the change of scenery brings Wallace back to the rim hawk he made his name on. He is still a weapon in transition and as more of a supplementary scorer, his efficiency should increase.
The Blazers have also struggled on the defensive glass this season and Wallace is a particularly good rebounder for his size on that end of the floor.
Sean Highkin of RipCityProject.com writes...
It's still unclear how exactly Wallace will fit in with Portland's current rotation, but if the opportunity is there to grab a 28-year-old former All-Star who was named to the All-Defensive team last year for essentially an expiring contract and picks, you have to do it. The departure of Przybilla (I'll say a proper farewell to him later tonight or tomorrow) leaves a gaping hole in the middle with Marcus Camby still injured, but Camby is due back soon, and in the meantime, don't be surprised to see the Blazers play Wallace at power forward and Aldridge at center.
The fact that Cho was able to swing a deal for a legit starting player without losing Camby or Andre Miller is huge for the team's stability. While Miller's and Camby's age prevents them from being future building blocks for the Blazers, Miller has good chemistry with the guys now and Camby, once healthy, should be as solid as ever. Both are under team control next year as well, so don't be surprised if their names pop up in rumors then as well. Przybilla's contract was the only true expiring one on the roster, and Gerald Wallace is probably the best-case scenario for what Cho could have expected to turn it into.
Wallace might be one of the most underappreciated players in the NBA, and he's been one of my five favorite players in the league in recent years. We don't always hear much about "Crash" Wallace, but last season he averaged 18 points, 8 boards, 2 assists, 1.5 steals, and a block for Charlotte. That's filling up a stat sheet. Nightly. And he did this shooting 48% from the floor and 37% from downtown. His numbers have slipped a bit this season, but he's still only 28 years old. He's fearless on both ends of the floor in ways we don't see very often. Defensively, just point to someone. Wallace can probably guard him. Better yet, Wallace is notorious for taking it directly to the Lakers, and under his leadership the Bobcats have defeated the Lakers in eight of the teams' last 10 meetings -- a somewhat mind-blowing statistic, but it was Andrew Bynum and the Lakers who nailed Wallace in early 2009 and collapsed his lung.In the Bobcats' win over the Lakers on Feb. 14, Wallace led his team with 20 points, 11 boards, and no turnovers in 32 minutes. Wallace can play the 3 or the 4. He can come off the bench, or he can start. As far as I'm concerned, he can have Brandon Roy's minutes for the rest of this season. Rich Cho may have set himself up for some high trade deadline expectations with this one. Granted, Dante Cunningham and Joel Pryzbilla were fan favorites, hard-nosed guys who put every ounce of energy they had into whatever was asked of them. But you've got to give to get a player like Gerald Wallace.Emotions aside, it didn't even cost much.
To sum up, the Bobcats lost a heady, hustling, hard-working player who is the only all-star they've ever had.
What did they gain?
They don't have to pay him anymore.
John Canzano of The Oregonian writes...
What we had at One Center Court was a wonderful dose of ambition on Thursday. What we had was initiative. What we had was a determined franchise that woke up on the biggest day of the year for any NBA front office worth a darn and decided it would not be left behind.
Right about now, I imagine owner Paul Allen is celebrating what amounts to a slam-dunk trade by running around his estate with a headband on, high-fiving the help while dribbling a basketball past all that priceless artwork hanging on the walls.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter