Gerald Wallace may not be the hottest name in the NBA, but he’s a name that just made headlines. While the reason Wallace’s name is in the news recently isn’t exactly due to him, he’s still heading to a place where his talents will be well utilized. As recently reported, the Golden State Warriors have decided to save some money and trade David Lee to the Boston Celtics for Gerald Wallace.
While Lee is the one grabbing the headlines here, let’s take a minute to talk about Wallace, who’s essentially going unnoticed in this trade. Gerald Wallace was not only once an NBA All-Star, but he was also the leader of the (then) Charlotte Bobcats. During his seven seasons in Charlotte, Wallace averaged fewer than 15.2 points per game just one time, which was in his first season with the team, according to ESPN.
Age has likely played a factor in Wallace’s decline since the 2010-11 season with the Bobcats, as he’s seen his average points per game fall in every single year since that point. Wallace has also dealt with his fair share of injuries though, which can’t be overlooked. To top it off, Golden State will now be the fifth team Wallace has played for since leaving Charlotte for good.
So you’re probably wondering, in what possible way could Wallace contribute to the defending NBA champions?
Well, for starters, adding Wallace in the trade for Lee saves the Warriors a cool $20 million, as Sporting News reports.
Now, obviously that’s not exactly what I’m talking about when it comes to Wallace contributing for his new team. What it really comes down to is the head coach of the Warriors, Steve Kerr. Kerr has a knack for getting the most out of each of his players, even the ones deep on the bench.
The Warriors had an incredible 12 players average at least 11 minutes per game last season, including players like Justin Holiday, Festus Ezeli, and Marreese Speights. Each of those players contributed in different ways, but most importantly, each knew their role, just like Wallace will.
Sure, Wallace isn’t going to be the player he was back with the Bobcats, and he’s turning 33 in just a few weeks, but what’s key is that the Warriors won’t be asking much of Wallace. After being asked to play 34.5 or more minutes per game every season from 2005 to 2012, Wallace’s body wore down on him. The following two seasons are when the declines came from Wallace, as he went from averaging 13.3 points and 6.6 rebounds in 2011, to 7.7 points and 4.6 rebounds in 2012.
Worst of all, Wallace was playing 30.1 minutes per game with the Brooklyn Nets in 2012 and was asked to play 24.4 per game in 2013 with the Boston Celtics. To put it simply, Wallace just didn’t have those type of minutes in his legs anymore and he immediately lost confidence in his role with Boston.
It’s a fresh start for Wallace, in a spot where there’s no chance he’ll average anywhere close to 20 minutes per game, which will be a great thing for him. Wallace has the potential to come in sporadically and fill in behind the likes of Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala. He won’t be asked to be a superstar or put the team on his back. Instead, Wallace’s role in Golden State will be playing smart and giving his teammates a breather from time to time.
It’s a role that’s perfect for the veteran small forward, and one that Wallace will excel in. Just because of a down 2014 season, don’t think that Wallace has absolutely nothing left in the tank, especially in a major reserve role.