The clock was winding down to the trade deadline. Rumors lingered above the Portland Trail Blazers like Los Angeles smog. With time ticking away, with, according General Manager Rich Cho, seven minutes to go, a crash hit Rip City: Gerald Wallace.
The 10th year forward was acquired from the Charlotte Bobcats, bringing immeasurable versatility to the Trail Blazers.
Granted, Portland parted ways with popular players - Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham, Sean Marks - as well as first-round picks for 2011 and 2013. Some cursed the transaction for sending away beloved stars, while others welcomed the tough-nosed, scrappy and energetic Wallace. Let's break it down.
Statistically, think about what the Trail Blazers received versus what was given up. Since moving to the Bobcats in 2004 in the expansion draft, Wallace has virtually been the face of the franchise. He's averaging 15.6 points and 8.7 rebounds this season, but not too long ago, he turned heads.
In the 2007-08 season, Crash peaked at 19.4 points, but it was last year that Wallace had the best all-around season of his career, putting up 18.2 points and 10 boards per game. It was this season that he became an All-Star as well as a member of the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
Compare his numbers to those of Przybilla, Marks and Cunningham. Combined, the three are averaging 8.5 points and 8.7 boards with an efficiency rating of +13.74. Wallace exceeds nearly every aspect. Alone, he pours in 7.1 more points, brings in just 0.3 rebounds less and holds an efficiency rating 4.22 points higher.
Don't get me wrong: From a sentimental standpoint, it's tough to see such hard workers, not to mention Portland's longest tenured player, leave the franchise. But the Trail Blazers can only get better with this addition.
Granted, the Trail Blazers still seem thin at the center position. Granted, many find it difficult to find a place for Wallace in the lineup (will he start, for example).
But Wallace brings a defensive intensity that cannot be matched. Wallace is a rebounder, blocker, thief and, if you can believe it, a scorer. He fits perfectly within a defense-first squad and can alter opponents' gameplans. He spreads the floor and can bang down low. Oh yeah, and he has playoff experience.
In the Bobcats' first postseason last year, Wallace was the go-to guy, registering 17.5 points and 9 rebounds in the opening round before Charlotte was knocked out. Add Wallace to the lineup and great things will happen. Fittingly, Wallace seems like a "steal" of a trade (had to do it).
Keep an ear to the ground and an eye straight ahead. The Trail Blazers are moving forward at full steam.