When Dwight Howard decided to opt-in last week, the hope that he would sign with the New Jersey Nets was lost along with the idea that the Orlando Magic would trade him to the team. Nets General Manager Billy King decided to make a trade for forward Gerald Wallace of the Portland Trailblazers, in exchange for center Mehmet Okur, forward Shawne Williams, and the Nets 2012 first round pick, a gutsy move, but a move he felt needed to be made. The pick is protected through the first three spots, but if the the pick is four or beyond, it belongs to the Blazers. “We are excited to add Gerald’s experience and toughness at the small forward position. His leadership and defensive prowess will be assets to our team going forward” King said of the trade.
In a perfect world, Deron Williams and Wallace, a career 13.4 point scorer, would bond on and off the court, which would convince them to stay with the Nets and open the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn this October. They would lead a team that would include talented players like Brook Lopez and MarShon Brooks, and there would be plenty of buzz around the team entering the new venue.
Worst case scenario would see Williams and Wallace both leaving for greener pastures, and the Nets headed to Brooklyn with billboards highlighting the talents of Lopez and Brooks. Williams, as we all know, is a free agent at the end of the season, and Wallace owns a player option for just under $11.5 million that he could take or leave.
Having lost three straight, including two brutal losses at their current home, the Prudential Center, and with 19 games remaining on the schedule, almost all hope is lost for the 2011-2012 campaign. What the Nets can, and must do, is convince their best two players to stay at almost all costs. If not, the team will be in a new city, but may also be the same old Nets.