Portland fans, this is not personal. It’s business.
Gerald Wallace — a key part of the Blazers resurgence — will not sign an extension with the Trail Blazers, representatives for the free agent to be told the team, reports Jason Quick at the Oregonian. It’s not that the veteran isn’t happy or doesn’t want to stay in Portland, but it’s what the new collective bargaining forces players who want the most money to do.
Wallace is under contract for this season and the 2012-2013 season, but he can opt out of the final year of his contract, which would pay him $11.4 million. The Blazers had hoped to avoid that potential scenario and in December had casual conversations with agent Rob Pelinka to extend his contract this season. However, under the new CBA, the Blazers can only extend Wallace for two more seasons, down from the four-season option in the previous CBA.
If Wallace opts out this summer and becomes an unrestricted free agent, he can sign with any team for as many as four seasons, but the Blazers would hold significant bargaining chips. If Wallace opts out, the Blazers would hold his Bird Rights because they acquired him in a February 2010 trade, and as a result would be able to offer him five years and more money.
You are going to see a lot of players — even players who have no intention of switching teams — do the same thing. Wallace can get two years now or five years this summer from Portland, what do you think he’s going to do? It is the same situation with Deron Williams in New Jersey or Dwight Howard in Orlando, save that those two guys are more likely to switch teams.
Wallace is averaging 15.6 points per game, plus his defense and energy are keys to Portland’s fast start this season. Wallace likes Portland and the team is winning, you just can’t expect him to leave cash on the table. So he will opt out. Other teams will bid. But in the end, Portland will probably lock him up long term.