7.03.2006

A shudder throughout our gardens



Cue the chain reaction or mass domino tumbling. Big Ben's coming to Chi-town, perhaps partly because he took the Pistons' offer as a sign of disrespect. I would refer you back to the Larry Hughes saga and latch onto this: they have something called "negotiations" for a reason, and as long as there're no definitive low-ball involved, it seems like the goal is to meet halfway. Isn't this the very lifeblood of arbitration in baseball, which is pretty much what's going in the NBA when an integral player tests free agency but has an inclination to stick around? Some might see this as proof of the NBA's money-grubbing ways; I'll take it as an indication that the culture of the league can sometimes trump anything resembling sanity or traditional sports values without it being all about the dollars.



Implications? Detroit plummets, Chicago has a glut of big men and doesn't necessarily need Wallace to perform like the unchained defensive maelstrom he once was. They didn't have to give him a max deal, and I'd assume that he's being picked up as much for his veteran leadership/Ray Lewis-like sixth sense for all that transpires on that side of the court as the plays he'll make. Although this wouldn't have warranted a max deal, put him in charge of Chandler, Sweetney, Thomas and to some degree Deng and Nocioni, and this becomes what the Nuggets were supposed to have been for the last couple of seasons. Maybe they see fit to unload Chandler, since they overpaid for him out of short-term jitters; whose to say, though, that he won't blossom next to Wallace, or at least prove essential enough that the price tag is a necessary evil. Like I said this yesterday, the Bulls are among many teams who were one player away from having a window open up before them—a window contingent, unfortunately, on no real dominant teams emerging in the immediate future. Down the road, Chandler's an albatross; for the next couple, he's a seven-foot shot blocker who can put a cramp in an offense when he's flowing proper.

Let's not mince anything here: this knifes the guts out of Detroit. Franchise figurehard, spirit animal of the operation, man who rode this thing from the bottom up. Even if he's not the player he was, to Detroit he might as well have been. I'm not saying the Pistons can't be a quality team next season, but they've automatically been set off wandering in the wide seas of a mini-transition; it'll be impossible to symbolically replace Big Ben, and about that difficult to find a functional equivalent. Even if they plug in a new big man, or start Sheed and McDyess, the whole tenor of that unit has changed: it's focus, orientation, center of gravity, etc. Maybe it's time for this to be the team of Billups and Rip; how this looks and feels, however, is something that'll have to be worked through in the crucible.

40 Comments:

At 7/03/2006 10:56 PM, Anonymous spider said...

Joe D now rues the day he freed Darko.

 
At 7/03/2006 10:57 PM, Anonymous Mr Exposition said...

"Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth"

 
At 7/03/2006 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Pistons' initial offer of $48 million over 4 years was hardly a sign of disrespect, in my opinion it was too generous. We're talking about a guy who averaged less than 8 points a game over the course of an 82 game season and who has a free-throw percentage resembling that of Stevie Wonder's and not of a professional basketball player. I'm from Detroit and I'm glad to see him go. Wallace going to Chicago is appropriate because, as far as I'm concerned, his attitude and production on the court has been nothing but Bull.

 
At 7/03/2006 11:34 PM, Blogger bayaz said...

All the Pistons fans with knives out for Wallace is just too much. These people ever heard of loyalty? If somebody makes your franchise while being severely underpaid you owe him a debt even if it isn't already on paper.

 
At 7/04/2006 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you have that backwards bayaz. Loyalty works the other way around.

 
At 7/04/2006 12:30 AM, Blogger bayaz said...

So loyalty's supposed to run from the underpaid, creative source of the Pistons' success to the franchise itself, which actually does nothing? I'm sorry, but no. That's some Skilling logic there and it's bullshit. I guess in the NBA though you don't have to be dead to have your work sell for millions while you get nothing, just got to be playing your best ball in your prime on a contract signed when you were working the bench.

 
At 7/04/2006 12:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to bayaz, it was the Detroit Pistons and their fans that made Ben Wallace a household name. With that said, the question of who owes who what shouldn't even come into discussion.

 
At 7/04/2006 1:31 AM, Anonymous Torgo said...

deep, deep pain... as a man torn between these two teams, this is exactly what I didn't want to happen. The pistons are done. They have no cap space, depth was already a problem. Dumars needs to have his "I'm a smart GM" award revoked for trading Darko "in order to free up cap space to sign Big Ben." (it's not an exact quote, but it's along the lines of what he said...) The Pistons have no center, not at the five, not in their defense, not in their attitude. It's all downhill from here. I imagine we're looking at, with luck, first round exits for the next four years. We've dropped from the blueprint for the league to a poor man's version of the nets... I can't imagine enjoying 2006 as a Pistons fan.
As a Bulls fan... oh, it will be nice, at first. As long as I can enjoy the team which they've become, a frankenstein built out of the corpse of my first love. But then, a season or two down the line, as Big Ben becomes slow Ben, or fossilized Ben, and he's on the books for 16 million a year (Jebidiah Springfield, when did free agents get this kind of cash? What happened to thinking 9 million was excessive?), the Bulls are screwed, Especially when it comes time to extend Deng, or Noce. Do we trade Chandler now? Is this our moment of Darko?

The 2006-2007 season will be a season of delight and change. For me, however, it will be a season of despair.

wv:xhglogm the sound I made choking on my tea when I heard the news. Trust me, it hurts having barley tea in your sinuses.

 
At 7/04/2006 1:37 AM, Anonymous Daniel Doyle said...

If anybody's gonna focus more on the hermeneutic form of big ben, it's gonna be this site (and that is why I love it). He is a symoblic loss, sure -- but if the Idea of the Phoenix Suns is the future, I might think having 20% of your starting roster as an offensive liability, to whom you occasionally throw an oop, would be a big detriment in the new era to come.

What about Bonzi - and really spreading out the floor, only with some inheritant defense on the other end? Thoughts?

 
At 7/04/2006 1:46 AM, Anonymous Torgo said...

D.D., Bonzi could work, and they could start running (although I've heard, can't remember where, that Billups isn't at his best running, which, given the end of the last Spurs/Pistons Final, I can beleive), and my god, a lock down defensive Suns? That could be good.
The only problem is pinning my hopes and dreams on a freaking headcase like Bonzi Wells (who is a totally different kind of headcase than Sheed). Plus, there's the little fact that he had an amazing playoff run in a contract year... Jerome James ring a bell?

 
At 7/04/2006 2:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great. And just when I thought Chicago fans were getting over the "Bulls' player with a unique hairstyle who can only rebound" phase.

 
At 7/04/2006 2:13 AM, Anonymous JacobDrJ said...

I don't think the author of this blog understood what happened. Ben didn't get offered an initial contract of $48 million. He was offered a FINAL DEAL. Management didn't want Ben back if Ben didn't really want to be there. This deal was a litmus test. To continue this analogy, the paper simply turned from 'Piston' blue, to 'Bulls' red, really fast.

 
At 7/04/2006 2:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the record, Ben Wallace being underpaid is bullshit. No one was offering him half of what the Pistons gave him in 2000.

 
At 7/04/2006 2:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To add to the "litmus test" analogy, the chemistry between Wallace and the Pistons wasn't there anymore. And as far as "Bulls' red" is concerned, lets see how fast Chicago fans will get pissed off when Big Ben shoots 35% from the free-throw line next season.

 
At 7/04/2006 2:24 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

jacobdrj--

as "the author of this blog," i'm coming forth to admit my mistake. the first reports of the pre-offer rumblings involved a putative figure from the pistons and wallace's suppsoed reaction to it. not sure how much that figured into the final offer, or how he felt about it, but you're right that this wasn't supposed to be the beginning of any official wrangling.

 
At 7/04/2006 2:24 AM, Anonymous JacobDrJ said...

I don't know. I think they can forgive that when Ben also helps them hold their opposition to under 75 ppg.

 
At 7/04/2006 2:30 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

point taken.

anyway, i've edited the post to reflect things as they actually went down, while still leaving open the possibility that what i'm saying is valid.

 
At 7/04/2006 2:31 AM, Anonymous Torgo said...

Dear god. Now they're saying Chandler for PJ Brown (this year's antiquated veteran who's a shadow of his former self, a la A. Davis) and JR Smith... Does Smith enDarkonify the team, showing us that Scott doesn't know how to coach, or is he really a bench cancer? I can't see Skiles meshing well with Smith, although it would be nice to see a dunk with style on the Bulls.

Still, that's all we get for, ultimately, Elton Brand? The season of despair, so recently begun, gets a touch bleaker.

wv: kwanpoft. The phrase used in German when Michelle Kwan falls after a jump?

 
At 7/04/2006 4:31 AM, Anonymous jack said...

I just want to point out, the future of Big Ben, as a marketable commodity, took a real blow. He was a franchise player in detroit, and could've remained a franchise player. In three years, maybe he'll have helped Chicago get to the EC semis (still not necessarily better than Miami, Cleveland, or Detroit), but at that point, he's pretty much done as a star player. No matter his abilities, he will definitely be traded to a team looking to take on a large contract they can get off the books after the season.

What I want to say is, Ben Wallace tied his stardom and image to his yeoman-ness, team first-ness, franchise player-itude, and all that took a real blow when he signed with Chicago. Real cheap.

 
At 7/04/2006 8:38 AM, Blogger there is no you or me without Suomi said...

Damn, it's like the godz don't ever want JR to play. If he couldn't get out of Scott's doghouse when the options were Kirk Snyder, Ras Butler, and Arvydas Mumpwamummawawaskas, getting into the good graces of a hard-ass like Scott Skiles with Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich, Chris Duhon, and ah hell- Jannero Pargo, in front of him seems pretty slim. I mean, yeah, you gotta compete and fight for a spot, but I think that deck's way too stacked against him. I hope his moving's not done.

wv: nyjrr- an ominous sign of things to come?

 
At 7/04/2006 9:59 AM, Blogger Sparkles*_* said...

Stein seems to believe that Wallace's signing instantly makes the Bulls the no. 2 contender in the Yeast.

Dude. Is. Trippin'.

I think it was Shoals who said that the Bulls are basically a glorified college squad. They barely made the playoffs! What kind of Herculean impact does Stein expect BB to make? Yes, they'll be a Nets/Wizards-tier team next season (and probably would be without Space Captain), but title contenders? Come on.

They now have a center who provides no offense and who is a liability in crunch time the likes of which make even Shaq look ice.

All this spinning is making me dizzy.

 
At 7/04/2006 10:01 AM, Anonymous torgo said...

I'm totally in agreement with Jack on this one... It's not often you see someone shoot themselves in the foot, stab their team in the back, and do... whatever the word is for at once hyper-inflating the hopes and dreams of an entire city while being predestined to utterly and completely let them down. Ladies and gentlemen, a true triple threat.

I will treasure my Pistons #3 jersey, and keep it in a special place next to my Hidetoshi Nakata #7 national jersey.

wv: xrmtw Former raw man, today's warrior, tomorrow's contract albatross.

 
At 7/04/2006 10:40 AM, Anonymous the dizzle said...

i am disgusted with the bulls right now. signing wallace and trading chandler? it completely disregards the notion of a team. i will have a very hard time seeing ben in red and chandler in teal (or whatever)

 
At 7/04/2006 11:48 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

j.r. smith should be some team's second or third option. i know that he's been robbed of that "starter" tag, but byron scott doesn't exactly have the best reputation for either making things work with players or disciplining them effectively. i've said in the past that j.r. will now be doomed to career on the bench all because of one arbitrary flick of the coaching wrist; now i'm thinking more and more that anywhere but charlotte would jumpstart his career.

anyone thought of the possibility that chicago still takes a run a garnett sometime soon? they've been barely disguising their dissatisfaction with gordon for some time now, and next year's top four picks will be a mighty valuable one. . . not to make anyone's morning a messy one, but imagine

pg: hinrich
sg: j.r.
sf: garnett
pf: thomas
c: wallace

 
At 7/04/2006 12:06 PM, Anonymous aug said...

Thabo is gonna be a superstar, i'm telling you. Thabo is the 2/3/scottie pippen with more athleticism of the future. JR is garbage and everyone knows it. He's a bench/energy guy who can hit a 3 and play in transition. I can't believe that the bulls would really want him and pj brown's corpse(who finally slowed down fantasy wise last season). I have to believe they'll get a taller scoring big like troy murphy or garnett or someone else for chandler and spare parts. Thabo's the word guys, listen up. Ben isn't that bad a deal for the bulls. Even though a big who is somehow worse at scoring than tyson chandler isn't bad and they big time overpaid for the aging vet whose game is hindered by the new rules, he's making tyson chandler money and they're going to move chandler. So it's basically like trading ben for tyson and then signing a shooting big.y

Anyways, what about the mavs maybe sign and trading marquis daniels of steppi roofing fame, to the raptors for mike james/jones? I would instantly like the raptors a lot more.

ford
daniels
mo p
bargnani
bosh

did they get anything for aruajo when they traded them, and can anyone name another player on their roster that gets minutes?

 
At 7/04/2006 12:21 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

while i'm man enough to admit that most of what i say about j.r. smith is delusional, anything assurances that "thabo will be a superstar" at least deserve some qualifiers. smith is a third year hs'er in a lousy situation who could score HIS FIRST YEAR OUT. thabo is totally unproven.

 
At 7/04/2006 12:57 PM, Anonymous kandi said...

Any Team with KG and Ben Wallace eligible to be on the same floor at the same time would be mind blowing.

 
At 7/04/2006 4:13 PM, Anonymous J.E. Skeets said...

aug: Raptors got Kris Humphries and Robert Whaley (already waived) for Big 'Hoffa.

As for other Raps who get a burn? Calderon -- our back-up Spanish PG -- gets 25 mins/game, Joey Graham gets 20, and Marc Stein's boner -- aka Pape Sow -- gets about 15.

Oh, that, and I occasionally see the floor during garbage time...

 
At 7/04/2006 5:15 PM, Anonymous JacobDrJ said...

I am a huge HUGE Ben Wallace fan. I will continue to be a fan of his in Chicago. However, something that perhaps many people don't know, is that for the 1st time since the 1st half of 2004, Ben is going to be without a great 1-on-1 defender at his side. Ben Wallace could always block shots, steal the ball, and rebound, however, his talents can not be truly exploited without the presence of the guy who covers for his gambles. In 2001, the Pistons were pretty awful, despite some amazing scoreing from Stackhouse and some record setting performences by Ben Wallace. However, it was not until Cliff Robinson, an underraited defensive juggernaught, came that Ben started winning. The Pistons were in bad bad shape after trading away Uncle Cliffy, as shown by their poor start in 2004. Ben was effectively neutralized. Only after Sheed came, and even BETTER defender than Cliff, did Ben Wallace return to form. I don't know if anyone in Chicago can be that 1-on-1 4/5 defender that Ben relies on. He might look bad just because of that.

 
At 7/04/2006 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luol Deng, yo.

 
At 7/04/2006 6:21 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

jdj--maybe this is agreeing with you, but haven't some people explained the decline in wallace's numbers as a result of his not being asked to do everything and cover everyone? to my mind, he gambled, or had to gamble, far less once there was someone else there to pick up the slack.

i think the bulls are hoping that it's not an either/or proposition: that he could bring some of the ruckus he caused as younger ben, while standing tall as the walking intangible that defined detroit's team defense more recently. an active playmaker and a general.

 
At 7/04/2006 6:26 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

nazr signing: problem addressed.

but that requires recognizing that the pistons were hardly sitting pretty with the team they had, anyway.

 
At 7/04/2006 6:50 PM, Anonymous JacobDrJ said...

I like Deng. I don't know enough about him. However, he is more of a cover for the 3/4 not the 4/5. Ben needs someone to watch his back when he leaves his man to play team D.

 
At 7/04/2006 6:57 PM, Anonymous torgo said...

Shoals, problem addressed, but more as a "shit, we'd better do something" kind of panic. If Mohammed rode the bench that much, is he an answer? Problem acknowledged, poorly solved. Now the Pistons are capped out, and they still don't have any scoring off the bench, and by scoring, I mean someone who could legitimately get 20 on any given night. McD can get 10-15. Is Carlos going to step up? Anyone from last year?

I read somewhere (I should start keeping notes) that Wallace refused a sign and trade. Does anyone know if that would affect his money situation? Or was he just refusing to help out the team that in his own words made him a household name, and showcased him to the point that it allowed him to get that kind of money in first place?

I'd love Garnett in Chicago. It's. Just. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Chandler for Brown/Smith is this offseason's Darko for Cato. You heard it here first. I'd be much happier with Murphy, and that doesn't make me happy at all.

 
At 7/04/2006 6:58 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

correct me if i'm severely wrong here (i'll admit, i don't really watch the pistons), but it seems like there are two extremes of wallace:

1. he is the whole defense, has to make plays left and right
2. he anchors a team defense, a system

i'm guessing the bulls want something in between these two for their money.

 
At 7/04/2006 7:30 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Some fun between all the worrying about several teams' future: a Chicago Bulls mascot punching a cop!

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2509090

So which columnist will be the first to make a lame joke about that fact and Chicago's new-found toughness after the Ben Wallace signing? My money is on Stein.

But all that on the heels of the amazing video of the Hawks mascot on his motorcycle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbswnoacwSg&search=hawks%20mascot%20motorcycle) - what's going on with those guys? I didn't even know that one of the other Bulls mascots got busted for weed last season.

 
At 7/04/2006 11:02 PM, Anonymous db said...

"I read somewhere (I should start keeping notes) that Wallace refused a sign and trade. Does anyone know if that would affect his money situation? Or was he just refusing to help out the team that in his own words made him a household name, and showcased him to the point that it allowed him to get that kind of money in first place?"

yes, ben refused the s&t's because they would have landed him in bad playing situations. as much as he probably would have loved to do detroit the favor of getting something in return for their biggest asset, it wasn't worth sacrificing the last good years of his career for. chicago's money was as good as it was going to get, and the style of play there has actually become even more well-suited to ben's game than detroit was last year, so the decision was easy. i'm assuming that dumars wasn't interested in any of the bulls' contracts - chandler specifically - who could have evened things out in an 11th-hour-joe johnson-for-diaw-(and picks) kind of way, or maybe it was paxson playing a tough hand - he didn't need to give up any assets because he was already the high bidder.

it's hard not to like the move, but considering chicago's draft - it's like they found one type of player they like and are hammering that theme to death. they need somebody who can SCORE. i was really surprised that they didn't go for aldridge for that very reason - a frontcourt of aldridge/wallace beats thomas/wallace any day of the week - and as good as they look on paper i'm not sure it's enough. especially when you consider the new nba rules that favor action & scoring. interior defense is great and errything but in a 7-game series against a lebron or a wade - one of whom they'll inevitably see in the playoffs very soon - they're gonna get whistle-whipped big time. of course they get better, but do they get championship-caliber? i dont know. especially if ben starts to decline (more than he already has).

wv: rxpmmkrh: something about teddy ruxpin, it could be funny

 
At 7/05/2006 11:55 AM, Anonymous jack said...

Something I'm kind of curious about, how much of Wallace's leaving is due to Flip Saunders's awfulness? I think we can all agree that, as a coach, he's much better at playing the odds during the regular season than he is at squeezing out play-off wins. Wallace may have some beef with this. But I think there may be something deeper, something that made Sprewell and Cassell flip out in Minnesota.

Does anybody have any insight into this?

Also, a grammar inconsistency I want to point out, the possessive form of "Saunders" is usually spelled "Saunders'", while the possessive form of "Wallace" is usually spelled "Wallace's".

 
At 7/05/2006 12:32 PM, Blogger Captain Caveman said...

Jack: According to Strunk & White, it should be Saunders's.

 
At 7/05/2006 8:42 PM, Anonymous jack said...

Yeah I'm familiar with EoS, although it has two strikes against it for being the weapon of choice for grammar tools and for being somewhat outdated. I was just interested in pointing out that this whole 'no s' business when possessifying words ending in s, whereas you can possessify words ending in ce or what have you and get away with it. I always thought the aesthetic part of the 'no s' was you didn't have to say the two 's'es in a row, not that you didn't have to read two 's'es in a row.

 

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