Gerald Wallace hasn't decided whether to pick up his $9.5MM option for next season, but after an upbeat meeting with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov this week, his comments to Fred Kerber of the New York Post indicate he's open to coming back to the team next year.
Wallace said he can see himself in a Nets uniform next season, and relayed that he and agent Rob Pelinka have talked about the possibility. Though he said he'll wait to make a decision until the offseason, he is already thinking about what he and his teammates must do next year to improve on their 22-38 record.
“The biggest thing for this team is going to be training camp — keeping guys accustomed to having that real training camp,” he said. “Coming back next year, we’re able to get adjusted to being together.”
Before the Blazers traded him to New Jersey at the deadline, Wallace had indicated he would turn down the option, but was seeking a long-term deal with the Blazers. It's unlikely that the 29-year-old Wallace, two years removed from his All-Star season and putting up his lowest scoring average in seven years, could command $9.5MM a year on the open market. Still, he could secure much more than that spread over a number of years, so that sort of guarantee might be enticing.
Nets GM Billy King said last week he sees Wallace as the key to the team's success going forward, an interesting comment considering the pending free agency of Deron Williams. Though Wallace seems high on Prokhorov, it's unlikely he sees the Nets as favorably as they see him. Still, opting in might be a smart move. He's averaged 14.8 PPG in 13 games with New Jersey after posting just 13.3 PPG in Portland this season, and most of his other numbers are up since the trade as well. If he keeps it up for another season, he could erase some of the doubts raised by his time with the Blazers and increase the value and likelihood of the long-term contract he seeks in free agency.