When the Golden State Warriors swapped David Lee for Gerald Wallace and Chris Babb, their primary intent was to minimize the luxury tax bill created after Draymond Green inked a lucrative deal this offseason. Additionally, when factoring in Lee's desire for a fresh start and larger role, it was only a matter of time before a trade would go down. In dealing Lee for Wallace, Golden State saved roughly $24 million in total as our own Sam Sorkin broke down the post-trade cap ramifications.
On February 28, 2014, Wallace suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee and missed the rest of the year. Long gone is the 2010 NBA player nicknamed 'Crash' who garnered NBA All-Star and All-NBA Defensive First Team honors. At this stage of his career, Wallace's athleticism and quickness has substantially depreciated. Besides providing some versatility in Golden State's defensive switching schemes and a locker room presence, Wallace is not much of an offensive threat. In a total of 32 games last season, he averaged a career low 1.1 points in 8.9 minutes, mostly during garbage time.
Even if Wallace is kept for this season, he will play a severely limited role. The Warriors already had depth at both forward positions prior to the trade. Additionally, with budding youngsters in Kevon Looney and James Michael McAdoo, playing Wallace big minutes would take away valuable developmental minutes. Per Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN, head coach Steve Kerr acknowledged that McAdoo could be primed for a larger role.
Here at GSW's season movie screening. Kerr was praising McAdoo's Summer League play, expects a lot out of him this season
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) July 24, 2015
Although Wallace got change of scenery from suiting up for a young Boston Celtics squad to joining the defending champs, he will likely get a ton of DNP coach's decisions if he stays. Contrarily, Monte Poole of CSN wouldn't be surprised if Wallace never suits up for the Warriors.
The Warriors aren’t sure Wallace has much to offer. It’s safe to presume they privately hope he’s finished and decides to retire. That would, as I understand it, allow the Warriors and Wallace to negotiate a buyout, which would save them even more money.
If Wallace wants to play, is able – and the coaching staff determines he’s also capable of being productive – he might be in uniform opening night.
If Wallace wants to play but the Warriors don’t like what they see, the team will explore its options for Wallace.
If Wallace plays out the year and Golden State holds on to him, representing a championship caliber team would give Wallace the environment he desperately craved. In his tenure with the Celtics, Wallace was known to be very adamant regarding his teammates' efforts.
Wallace might even be motivated to give it his all albeit in sparingly low minutes as he has never won a ring before.
Another avenue includes using the stretch provision on Wallace's contract. This would entitle Golden State to stretch the remaining $10.1 million equally in three seasons. However, with the salary cap set to explode it would seem more logical to take the big cap hit this year than have dead money tied to the books for the future.
Nevertheless, the Warriors must make calls around the league explore the possibility of re-packaging Gerald Wallace (Golden State cannot move him for 60 days). Clearly, re-trading Wallace would free up another roster space and decrease the payroll even more - both positives for the Warriors. Moving him in previous years might have been extremely difficult, but with his contract set to expire next summer, a taker is always possible (looking at you Philly).
If Golden State decides to retain Wallace for the year, maybe he could be take a motivator role for a team seeking to repeat. For the meantime, Wallace is unsure about the future of his career and is taking the time to reflect upon it.
For more on the trade that brought Wallace to the Warriors, check out our David Lee trade storystream.