NBA Trade Deadline 2012: Nets Trade for Gerald Wallace After Dwight Opts-in

Josh BurtonContributor IIIMarch 15, 2012

Wallace will provide the defensive effort and intensity that has been missing from the Nets for years
Wallace will provide the defensive effort and intensity that has been missing from the Nets for yearsElsa/Getty Images

That's right.

Dwight Howard did the seemingly unthinkable and waived the ETO (early termination option) on his current contract, meaning he has essentially opted-in to the final year of his deal with Orlando, according to the Washington Post.

Like everyone else, I was shocked to hear this news and was simply disappointed with the terrible way that Howard dealt with the whole situation.

Last night, it was reported by a few writers that Dwight would be waiving his ETO, but just hours later, the opposite was circulating around the internet and TV. Then, earlier this morning, the Magic center announced he would in fact sign the ETO and stay with the team that drafted him for at least another season.

Contrary to what most people believe, this is not the end of the Dwightmare and it isn't the end of the Nets' chances of going into the Barclays Center next year with a good team.

The news with Howard simply means that this whole debacle of a "will he stay or go" situation is just pushed back to the trade deadline of next season until all the speculation starts again.

On the other hand, Nets' GM Billy King wasted absolutely no time in making this team better right now by trading for the Portland Trailblazers' SF Gerald Wallace. In the deal, the Nets gave up the expiring contract of Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a first-round pick.

Of course Wallace is not even close to the talent level of Dwight Howard but he is a very suitable Plan B to appease Deron Williams, at least in the meantime. For those of you that aren't familiar with Wallace, he is a great defender and will really help the Nets' dreadful perimeter defense. His arrival also probably means that DeShawn Stevenson won't be starting anymore for this team and may be relegated to a reserve role.

Wallace, a 12-year NBA vet who is only 30 years old, is averaging 13 points and six rebounds a game this season, numbers which are down from earlier in his career, especially when he was with the Charlotte Bobcats.

Wallace, in addition to his defensive exploits, is a solid all-around player from the offensive floor and provides the Nets with a proven second scoring option behind D-Will that hasn't been a consistent presence since Brook Lopez got injured for the second time this season.

My only main qualms about Wallace are that he has had slight issues with the injury bug in recent years and that his contract, which has a player option for next season, technically ends after this year. This means that he could opt out after the season without the Nets getting compensation for him.

Looking at the players who the Nets gave up for the Blazers' small forward, I won't miss any of them. Mehmet Okur, traded to the Nets from the Utah Jazz in the offseason for a second-round pick, has been out for weeks and has only played in 17 games this season for the Nets.

His massive expiring contract brings some salary relief to the Nets. Shawne Williams, the other player involved in the deal, signifies a failed signing by King from this offseason.

After a breakout year for the Knicks last season, the Nets signed Williams to a two-year, $6.1 million deal which worked out about as poorly as possible for the team. When he wasn't hurt, he was unproductive and when he was unproductive, he was hurt.

The big question mark in the trade is the top-3 protected 2012 first-rounder the Nets also gave to Portland.

I don't really understand why the Nets didn't protect this pick because it means that New Jersey might be missing at the potential chance of getting a high lottery pick in this summer's stacked draft class. It would be tough to see the Blazers come away with a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Terrence Jones with our pick.

All in all, today was an incredibly frustrating and nearly heart-breaking day for the Nets as a team and for the fanbase. They were extremely close to getting Dwight Howard, either by trade or free agency, and they missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime player, at least for another season.

Getting Gerald Wallace is a suitable consolation for now, but he is nowhere near the piece that this team needs to be a playoff contender in the East. Until next year's trade deadline, I suppose.