Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Monday, July 03, 2006

Big Ben's gone, off to Chicago

In my post earlier today, I meant to write about Ben Wallace terming the Pistons' 4-year, $48 million contract offer as "disappointing," and "not at all what [he] expected." It's certainly easy to say now, but to me, that was it. That was Ben saying he wasn't coming back to Detroit.

What did Ben expect from the Pistons? Well, obviously more. But I look at Detroit's $48 million vs. Chicago's $52 million and think Joe Dumars made a fair market offer. Then again, the difference between $52 million and $48 million is four million dollars - more money than most of us will likely see in our lifetimes.

Taking the negotiations to the press and trying to make the Pistons look bad aren't the tactics of a man who wants to return. And toward the end of this past season, Ben Wallace looked like he'd had enough here. The refusal to go back into a game in April, an apparent resentment toward his teammates who wouldn't involve him in the offense, and a growing disenchantment with Flip Saunders' overall system each seemed to provide small indications that this was becoming a tense relationship.

K-Dog tells me ESPN News is reporting that Wallace actually signed with the Bulls for $60 million, not $52 million, so we're not talking about a seemingly small difference between offers. There had been talk all throughout the season that Chicago would come strong after Big Ben, and that definitely happened. $15 million (reportedly, as I write this) a year? For Ben Wallace?

I'm sure Joe D's going to take some heat for this, but I think he and the Pistons handled this exactly the way they had to. They figured out Ben's financial value to the team, set their price, and didn't budge from that. Going above that number would've thrown their entire salary structure out of whack, and teams that are interested in staying successful don't often do that.

(Want an example? How about the Hornets signing Peja Stojakovic to a 5-year, $64 million deal. The Oxford English Dictionary is changing its definition of "insane" as we speak. According to MLive.com's A. Sherrod Blakely, Wallace was even more offended by the Pistons offer after seeing that one.)

Maybe you can criticize the Pistons for letting other teams set the market, rather than aggressively establishing it themselves. But would it have ultimately mattered? Especially when Ben seemed like he wanted to leave, anyway?

So this is goodbye. It's going to be very strange seeing Ben Wallace in another team's uniform next season. And this surely hurts the Pistons' chances next season. After all this sinks in, I'll probably be really pissed that he'll be playing for the Bulls - a team I've always hated - in a city that's arguably Detroit's natural sports rival.

(When K-Dog got the news, he said - and I hope he doesn't mind me revealing this - that "Ben can kiss my ass." I'm not quite there yet, but might be in a few months. Once a guy leaves, that door is closed, man.)

But I still think this is the right move, one good teams sometimes have to make.

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  • At July 04, 2006 2:51 PM, Blogger Mini Me said…

    Tough loss for the Pistons from a sentimental standpoint and from a talent standpoint. However I think they will be ok. I expect them to sign Joel Przybilla. He would be a solid replacement for Wallace.

  • At July 05, 2006 10:25 AM, Blogger Sam said…

    I honestly don't give a flying fox bat about basketball, but I saw this news and cringed, because I have a lot of friends who are huge Pistons fans, and they're gonna be crushed.

  • At July 05, 2006 11:54 AM, Blogger Leelanau Sports Guy said…

    Dumars made a good move by not overpaying for Ben. He would have been 36 at the end of the contract and I don't expect him to play at the same high-level for more than a year or two. It's still a good move by the Bulls, but an even better one by the Pistons!

  • At July 05, 2006 12:41 PM, Blogger The Armchair Quarterback said…

    If the Pistons were in the financial situation the Bulls are they could sign Wallace and not think twice. But I think you're right, they aren't in a situation where they can overpay right now without screwing upt their salary structure.

  • At July 05, 2006 4:35 PM, Anonymous Evan said…

    I'm not shedding a single tear. He left over money and being upset because the team wasn't running the way he liked it. That's called being selfish.

    Yes, he didn't get many touches. Yes, that's a problem with Flip's offense as much as it is with Ben's ability. But the guy shoots 3% from the foul line: What does he expect?

    In this salary cap era, you cut your losses, go with younger players for less money, and coach them into filling holes. I have to imagine both Maxiell and Mohammed are going to get that chance this year. And if the Pistons have to take a step back to take a step forward, so what? It's worked pretty damn well for San Antonio in the cap era.

    The only way you can out so much money into one player is if you have a living god on your team like LeBron, Iverson, or Wade. And even then, there are no guarantees: It still requires another top talent play for less than perhaps he deserves (a la, Shaq, Mourning, etc) to help load the team around him. Ben's great, but he's not Dwyane Wade by any means.

    This is the right move all the way. 48 million was at the high end of what could be considered a rational offer. If Ben though he deserved more, his ego and pride got the better of him. End of story.

    I, for one, think that the Pistons DO need to re-focus a bit on defense and that they need a backup guard who can bring defensive energy beyond Hunter (a la Mike James, who they can't afford barring a trade). But Ben isn't the only piece to that puzzle. And more than anything, the Pistons were simply too tired and need to rely more heavily on their bench. Delfino HAS to get serious minutes. A backup guard other than Lindsey Hunter HAS to get serious minutes. Someone other than McDyess needs to get at least some minutes as a backup big man.

    Maybe Delfino is that guard. Maybe Amir Johnson will be ready to play some this year. Maybe Jason Maxiell can play 5-7 quality minutes a game in a reserve role. Maybe not. Only Joe knows, and even then, it's a bit of a crap shoot.

    But they at least MIGHT be the answer. Paying Ben an insane salary that sinks the team 3 years from now was certainly NOT the answer. So from where I'm sitting, Joe D made the right move.


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