Just last summer, the Brooklyn Nets seemingly made Gerald Wallace an integral part of their future, inking the veteran forward to a four-year, $40 million contract. One disappointing, injury-filled year later, the Nets parted ways with Wallace in the deal with the Boston Celtics that brought Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn.
Needless to say, Wallace wasn't too happy about being dealt from a contender to a team in rebuilding mode, and he believes he was scapegoated for the Nets' first-round loss to a Chicago Bulls squad that was severely undermanned, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
"(The Nets) have to point the finger at somebody like I was the guy to take the blame," Wallace told the Daily News before Brooklyn's 82-80 victory . "And that was the reason I was traded."
Wallace struggled throughout the regular season, averaging just 7.7 points on 39.7 percent shooting. And in the playoffs, he was often left wide open because the Bulls didn't respect him as an offensive threat.
Interestingly enough, however, Wallace actually performed rather well against the Bulls, averaging 12.0 points on 46.3 percent shooting overall and 37.9 percent from long range. In the Game 7 loss, Wallace had 19 points and five assists. So it's truly hard to pin the blame of that series loss mainly on Wallace.
Wallace was simply a natural piece to go to Boston in the Pierce/Garnett deal, for several reasons. For one, Pierce is a clear upgrade at the small forward spot, even at 36 years old. And while Pierce is getting up there, it's not like Wallace is a spring chicken himself, especially with his injury issues. Also, Wallace's $10 million annual salary made the money work.
In Wallace's defense, the Nets weren't exactly very forthcoming to him about a possible trade, and he also says they never even gave him a courtesy call once the deal was complete. So while the trade made perfect sense for the Nets, they likely could have handled things with Wallace a bit better.