Gerald Wallace Raring to Go with a 'Top-5' Team
July 16, 2012
BROOKLYN, N.Y.—After opting out of the final year of his deal, Brooklyn Nets forward Gerald Wallace quickly opted to re-sign with the team, confident in their ability to compete in the Eastern Conference next season. He spoke with the media in a Monday conference call.
Gerald Wallace just wanted it over with.
After opting out of his contract in June, the 11-year veteran checked in with free-agent point guard Deron Williams. After establishing that their friendship wasn't at stake -- "It's nothing but respect between us" -- and checking where each stood, Wallace figured Williams would return to the Nets. Not wanting to be part of a rebuilding situation, Wallace quickly came to terms with Nets General Manager Billy King on a new deal, believing it would offer Williams the confidence to re-sign.
"I think we've made a statement team-wise about the direction we want to head in," Wallace said, in a Monday conference call with team media. "I think we've got some great pieces. I understand that Billy and those guys are still doing some hard work to make some things happen for us, and I think we've had a great start, and I think we can get better as a team. I feel confident with the team that we have going into training camp. And hopefully with God's help and everybody staying healthy, then we can make a push for the postseason."
Wallace cautioned that while the Nets look good on paper and he believes them to be a top-5 five team in the East, the squad must prove their worth on the court. Established playoff teams will be tough, but Wallace feels that the core -- which now includes six-time All-Star Joe Johnson, in addition to Williams and center Brook Lopez -- will allow the Nets to compete.
Once training camp begins, Wallace will take instruction from Coach Avery Johnson and follow through to the best of his abilities. He knows that will again involve guarding superstar small forwards and rebounding at a rate unmatched by most 3's around the league.
"It's something that I take pride in," Wallace said. "I've got accustomed to rebounding, I like rebounding and it's something that Larry Brown, when I came to Charlotte, he put in my game (thinking) that would improve me as a player. And I feel pretty comfortable with it. Nobody has to tell me to rebound. If anything, they have to tell me to let the bigs get a couple rebounds or I'll try to get them all."
For now, Wallace is focusing on his annual Alabama Basketball Camp in his hometown of Childersburg, Ala. The two week-long sessions at the local high school occupy Wallace's full attention; he helps run drills and speaks to the assembled group about his experiences reaching the NBA from their very situation.
Those small-town origins play into Wallace's half-joking declaration that he's "staying in Jersey" save for game night. While he admits to being "afraid of the city," Wallace found a comfort level after being traded, and knows that finding a good driver will be key.
But don't take that to mean he's not excited about the team's move to Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
"I think it's gonna be special," Wallace said. "I started the first year (of the Bobcats) in Charlotte, and it was kind of special, but we didn't quite have the roster that we'll have in Brooklyn going into the first season there. I think especially it's going to be a little different because Brooklyn's never had a team before, so the excitement is double what I felt in Charlotte."