Assessing the Potential Value Added by Gerald Wallace

What is more important to this Rockets team: a player who can set the table for Yao Ming, Luis Scola, and Kevin Martin or a scoring threat that can space the floor for Yao and Scola to go to work?

What if the Rockets were to reduce the need for scoring from the point guard spot by complimenting Martin, Scola, and Yao with another scoring threat? Could they do that without ceding production in other areas like defense and 3-point shooting?

The Rockets could trade Shane Battier and Aaron Brooks to the Charlotte Bobcats for Gerald Wallace to achieve such a lineup.* The salaries are a match.** Charlotte gains the solid point guard which it craves, and Larry Brown, Charlotte’s coach who relishes intelligence and veterans, gets the smartest player in the league in Battier.

Under such a premise, Kyle Lowry moves into a starting role immediately adding defense and play making to the back court. While losing Battier hurts from a leadership and professional perspective, Wallace is an immense upgrade on the court. He has one additional year after this season on his contract (and a player option for the 2012/13 season). Most importantly, Wallace appears to contribute statistically in the areas Houston values most.

Last season, Wallace had an eFG%*** of 55.7 from behind the arc. He also attempted 7.2 free throws a game and made 5.6. Accordingly, his TS%**** was 58.6, good for 7th at his position for players playing in 40+ games. He is also an outstanding rebounder. Amongst small forwards, Wallace ranked 1st last season. His 10.0 rebounds per game last year placed him 16th in the league overall.

The Rockets’ defense could see an upgrade as well, but that is hard to gauge because of Shane’s contributions to the team effort on that side of the court. Shane provides something very few other players in the history of the game have with his sheer intuitiveness and intelligence. It is not hyperbole to consider Shane irreplaceable.

The impact of losing Battier could be mitigated by the addition of Wallace in conjunction with the promotion of Lowry. Wallace has the numbers to suggest he is a more than adequate replacement on the defensive end. Lowry’s increased minutes from the starting position would also help on defense.

Last season Wallace averaged 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. He also collected 0.58 charges per game last year. That number would put him second on the Rockets, a team which easily lead the league in charges taken last year. Lowry averaged 0.75, Scola 0.50, Chuck Hayes 0.45, and Martin 0.41.

It would be hard to let Shane and Aaron go. But with capable replacements at point guard and an upgrade at small forward, the Rockets would be consolidating assets by acquiring Wallace in an exchange. Wallace is capable of providing a defensive impact to replace that of Battier, and his scoring and shooting offset those attributes we cherish in Brooks.

* Update – As noted by reader ‘jmwilliamson’, the author is not reporting on any rumors but is merely stating a possible scenario. This is not even a scenario the author fully supports. Actually, this is not even a report. It is simply something he found interesting and wrote on the back of an envel…that’s where that expression comes from!!! Thanks to  jmw for the help.

** According to, Wallace signed a 6 year deal worth $57 million in 2007 that has easily achievable $1 million dollar bonuses. Wallace counts $10,500,000 toward the cap which accommodates Battier’s $7,354,500  and Brooks’ $2,016,692. Brooks and Battier’s  salary is $9,371,192 combined which is within the acceptable salary exchange range.

***Effective Field Goal Percentage; the formula is (FG + 0.5 * 3P) / FGA. This statistic adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. For example, suppose Player A goes 4 for 10 with 2 threes, while Player B goes 5 for 10 with 0 threes. Each player would have 10 points from field goals, and thus would have the same effective field goal percentage (50%).

**** True Shooting Percentage; the formula is PTS / (2 * (FGA + 0.44 * FTA)). True shooting percentage is a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account field goals, 3-point field goals, and free throws.

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