NBA Free Agents 2012: Gerald Wallace Available, Raptors Can Keep Their Pick

Hasib MoeenAnalyst IIJune 16, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 19:  Gerald Wallace #45 of the New Jersey Nets looks on in the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Prudential Center on March 19, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

ESPN reported Gerald Wallace chose not to pick up his player option as Wednesday's deadline to do so expired. Now, Wallace officially becomes an unrestricted free agent in a class without many stars available.

This is huge for the Toronto Raptors, who sorely require talent at the small forward position, and are even willing to part ways with their No. 8 overall draft selection in order to get it. Such a move would likely require Toronto to slash their available cap space in half and limit them to expensive role players in free agency.

Now that Wallace is available, Toronto can opt to draft an explosive guard and put Brooklyn, a division rival, in a very tight spot.

The Nets acquired Wallace in a gamble that resulted in them losing the No. 6 overall draft pick. Now Billy King will have to match any offer for Wallace before Deron Williams decides the roster is too thin to carry him to a championship.

Furthermore, this helps Toronto even if they don't land Wallace.

The 2012 free-agent class is thin on small forwards. Nicolas Batum, Jeff Green and Michael Beasley are all solid options, but they are either restricted or very valuable to their teams. Looking further, Toronto has only a very small pool of forwards to choose from, including Antawn Jamison, Andrei Kirilenko and Carlos Delfino, but all are aging and on the decline.

The addition of a big-time player would give Toronto a higher chance of snatching one of the top-four forwards, as there will be more talent to go around for competing teams as well.

Overall, the Raptors should make it a priority to fill the roster through free agency where possible. Trades give you the same result, but they also require some of our most valuable assets.

With Gerald Wallace, Toronto would receive a game-changer and would be playoff-ready today, while also laying the foundation for tomorrow.

To me, overpaying Wallace $2-3 million a year would be well-worth keeping our draft pick. What do you think? Leave a comment and let everybody know!