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Signing Ben Wallace was a great move

I wasn’t happy when Ben Wallace left for the Bulls. He was my favorite Piston, and I wanted him back.

I was sure he would return, and that just made the parting worse. Detroit’s championship window was wide open, and there were no suitable replacements on the market. (The Pistons’ consolation was Nazr Mohammed).

I thought Detroit would have to pay Ben whatever he wanted. Sure, he’d be overpaid, but that’s the price of a title. Joe Dumars had given the Pistons flexibility. It was time to take advantage.

But he decided to let Ben go.

It was the right move

Ben quickly went from my favorite to least favorite player in the league. He was a traitor.

But deep down, I didn’t blame him.

Sam Smith chronicles Ben’s struggles after taking the money. The presumption is he would have been better off taking less in Detroit.

But who says he would have been happy here?

Piece of mind with the Pistons was far from guaranteed. The contract was.

Flip Saunders’s system obviously didn’t fit him. He clashed with Rick Carlisle, too.

Maybe it’s a Ben thing not a Chicago/Cleveland thing.

And as much as I didn’t want to admit it, Ben wasn’t Ben his last year with the Pistons. Shaq, then with the Heat, scored at will on him during the conference finals. (And although Ben was a better defender off the ball, he was definitely one of the best on-ball defenders in the league during his prime).

He can still play a little

Obviously, the Pistons aren’t signing the Ben they had. And I’m not expecting him to play much. Heck, I’m not even sure if he’ll be in the rotation.

But he can still produce.

He had a 16.4 rebounding percentage last year. If he had enough minutes to qualify, he would have been tied for 12th in the league.

And in our chat before the playoffs, John Krolik of Cavs: The Blog raved about Wallace.

Patrick Hayes of It’s Just Sports has more detail on Ben’s post-Detroit production, finding his productions suffered more for a decline in minutes than ability.

There’s no risk

The Pistons aren’t going to win the title this year. They’re young and will still be finding themselves.

So, it’s not too big a deal who the players at the end of their bench are.

And even if they were contenders, Ben isn’t going to make or break anything. The Lakers just won a title with Didier Ilunga-Mbenga as their third center.

Besides, who would you rather have? Joel Anthony?

Wallace won’t be a key contributor, and he doesn’t cost much. From a basketball sense, this is a very minor move.

It’s nearly impossible for it to go wrong. The expectations for a player this far down the bench are just too low.

Which Ben are we getting?

Once Wallace left, we learned he didn’t always fit his on-court image.

He feuded with Scott Skiles over a headband. He publically challenged Flip Saunders. Basically, he was a spoiled, me-first baby.

Players like him aren’t typically malcontents.

Guys who dive for loose balls don’t refuse to enter the game.

Guys who play harder on defense than offense don’t demand touches.

Guys who went to a small school, weren’t drafted and toiled in Europe don’t undermine coaches.

I think the money and attention got to him. I’m hoping a reduced salary and a reduced role come with a reduced ego this time around.

For $1.3 million, I’m willing to take a chance on a happy ending.

16 Comments

  • Aug 12, 20091:30 am
    by The Rake

    Reply

    Yeah, as I said in an earlier comment, I like the move to get Ben back.  I admit though, not sure why we didn’t go after Leon Powe at all.  That never made sense to me.  Now we see he goes to a competitor at an incredibly cheap rate (less than $1mm per) for up to 3 years.  Powe is a legit player who avg. 7 and more than 4.5 rebs.  Not bad for a young role player at that price at all.
    The Rake
    http://thefilmnest.com

  • Aug 12, 20099:17 am
    by Ian

    Reply

    Ben Wallace should get a lot of rebounds and defend during the season. The Pistons must put two more pieces in place. They should try to pick up someone who can defend and score on Lebron James. Richard Hamilton should work on his penetration to the basket. The coaches must encourage Ben to become a scorer. He should not die off at this point in his career. He should keep working on his game and learn to dominate. There are no centers in the league tougher than him. He is probably the only center who can stop Shaq. Dwight Howard is a creampuff that Wallace can handle easily if he puts his mind to it.

  • Aug 12, 20093:52 pm
    by Olando

    Reply

    I have read a number of articles concerning the signing of Ben Wallace, and I have to say I totally disagree with you.  you are talking as though we are dealing with a up and coming rookie, we are not, we are dealing with a guy who is in the twilight of his career. He will not improve on his shooting, “If given the minutes, he would have been 12th in the league in rebounding”. 12th in the league does not win games or take you to the playoffs. His signing is purely for ticket sales, not to improve on the performance of the team.

  • Aug 15, 20091:21 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    The Rake,

    I’d love to have Powe, too. I’m not sure if he would’ve come to Detroit for similar money. I think playing for a contender appealed to him.

  • Aug 15, 20091:23 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Ian,

    I’m not sure how much Ben’s mind has to do with it. His body isn’t what it once was.

    If you’re expecting him to shut down the league’s best centers, I think you’re going to be dissapointed. He can’t do that anymore.

  • Aug 15, 20091:33 am
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    Olando,

    Shaq was 12th in the league in rebounding percentage. Cleveland must be hoping you’re wrong about the 12th guy not helping a team win games.

  • Aug 15, 200911:08 am
    by mike jacks

    Reply

    I am not too happy about this move ben iis not the same player he is not nothing more than back up I wish we were gettimg what we use to have but i dont see him being the same ben we still need a starter center with this sqaud we will be out the first round or wont make the playoffs watch and mark my words

  • Aug 16, 20095:52 am
    by buc.town

    Reply

    buc.town                                   Ben will show the young Fellas a great work ethic and that will be value by itself  and a solid  10 or 15 mintues a night. 

  • Aug 16, 200910:50 pm
    by Ian

    Reply

    Ben Wallace is not that old. He takes care of his body better than most players. If he goes out and challenges every street player in one on one until he can beat them all, then he will come into the season with the ability to dominate over Dwight Howard and Shaq. Dwight Howard is a soft player. He can block his shots. He really doesn’t have a lot of moves down low. Wallace must stop him. Although, we don’t even need to be that worried about Orlando. It’ll be stopping Shaq that will be key.

  • Aug 17, 200910:09 am
    by JB

    Reply

    We didn’t go after Powe because he will be out until at least Feb. with his injury and I imagine since the almighty K. Brown is now our only legit front court player with decent size, we needed someone who could play now and not “potentially” later.  Otherwise, Powe would have been an option.  I always liked his grit and hard work….however, if one’s ACL doesn’t heal properly, there goes your investment.

  • Aug 17, 20099:47 pm
    by Ian

    Reply

    What really needs to happen is we need to get Ben Wallace to post on here so we can figure things out.

  • Aug 19, 20095:48 pm
    by Pete in Redford

    Reply

    This is a brilliant move for PR, a good move for  the team and the right move for Ben. I predict he will work VERY hard for a year in a reserve role, show the young guys how you work to be ready to play, and retire gracefully and with much affection as a Piston at the end of the year, as it should be.

  • Aug 21, 200912:21 pm
    by MPM

    Reply

    In and of itself right now it’s a good signing. But as a concerned fan I really don’t like the recent moves at center; now we have him, Wilcox, and KB there when we should have just traded Maxiell (or anyone earning less) to the Hornets for Tyson Chandler instead of signing two backup non-scoring centers past their prime (Wilcox and Wallace). Also that would have made more room for our three excellent combo forward draft picks but instead the roster is bloated now. Maybe later on Joe D will make a decent trade though, like, I dunno, Tayshaun and Wilcox for Chris Kaman (Daye and Summers competing for the 3 spot would be siiiick). Rafer Alston might be moveable too, would be nice to have a real pg .

  • Aug 21, 200912:29 pm
    by MPM

    Reply

    I should clarify: a 26 year old guy like Chris Wilcox isn’t really past his prime but I think he’s plateaued, or at least you aren’t going to get much more out of him at the 5 (he’s better at 4 tho).

    Also I don’t buy the idea that a guy getting say 3 bpg is vastly superior to a guy getting 1.5 bpg but more scoring. Blocking is overrated b/c it happens so infrequently and inconsistently; playing solid post d that causes too shallow or too hard a shot is just as good.

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