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.