The Brooklyn Nets could not get away with losing Gerald Wallace unless everything happened so quickly at the start of free agency that the team was ready to compete without him. Things appeared to be happening quickly, but when the clock struck Free Agency, Brooklyn didn't have a commitment from Deron Williams, didn't have a trade for Dwight Howard or Joe Johnson and didn't have a bead on any other free agents. They couldn't wait for Williams; inactivity would be a risk when it came to keeping Deron.
So the Nets locked up Wallace quickly at four years, $40 million. Some folks will grouse about the length of the deal, which is fair. Some will ask who else would have offered that much money for an aging athlete who has been drifting from his peak. That's fair, too. But the Nets truly were bidding against themselves. When they traded their first-round pick (No. 6, in the end) for Wallace at the deadline, knowing he would likely opt out at year's end, they guaranteed they'd pay him more than anyone else in free agency. That was a part of the deal. This decision was made long ago.
And Wallace is still a very good player; I surmise he'll be underpaid or fairly paid next season at $10 million. The fear is that he'll fall apart in time and not be worth it by, say, 2014-15. But this isn't an Amar'e Stoudemire/Joe Johnson contract -- a $20 million monster of a deal that will be extremely painful to work around or move. This is about $10 million, or slightly above the average starter's salary. If by the end of the deal Wallace is a barely suitable starter? He's only overpaid by about 50 percent or so. In the meantime, you get a fairly paid above-average player.
There will be plenty of deals to lampoon over the next couple of weeks. Save your ire for them. This isn't a bad deal for the Nets.