When Ben Wallace was finally traded to Phoenix to lure Shaquille O’Neal to LeBron’s aid, the Suns bought out the former Defensive Player of the Year to the tune of $10 million. Now the one time warrior is rumored to be returning to Detroit, the place where he cemented his legend as a rim defender.
Apparently, Detroit has a one-year offer on the table, though the speculation is mostly just a rumor right now. The Pistons have a few million to burn after signing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, and it would put them in the luxury tax threshold, meaning that even if they sign Wallace for $3 million, they’ll have to pay the exact amount back to the league as well.
Is he worth it?
In his best days, Wallace was the most feared centers in the league. Scoring on him was like trying to pick up the hottest broad in college while wearing cargo shirts and a wife beater with a mustard stain on it. Wallace averaged 12.9 rebounds per game while a Piston, and put up just over 8.0 points per game. During that stint he won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award four times, and an NBA Championship.
Signing for greener pastures in Chicago, Wallace bolted from Detroit much to the chagrin of Detroit Pistons’ fans who loved having Big Ben Wallace on their squad. In 2006, he signed a four-year, $60 million deal realizing exactly what we didn’t know about him – he wasn’t really that good. As a Bull, Wallace became irrelevant, averaging under six-points per game, less than 9.7 rebounds per game and 2.0 blocks. Needless to say, he cashed in heavy with the Bulls and never looked back.
In early 2008, Big Ben was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he registered milestones in his career. Wallace pulled down his 9,000th career rebound, and blocked his 1,900th career shot while donning the Cavs uniform. Despite those two milestones, he averaged 23.5 minutes, 2.9 points and 6.4 rebounds while raking in on his mega contract. His bank account grew bigger as his legend shriveled to nothingness, and Wallace didn’t even seem to care.
After the buyout from Phoenix, who was more interested in signing a potential hopeful in Channing Frye, Ben Wallace remained in the free-agent pool with zero phone calls and zero teams interested in him. There’s a reason – the four-time defensive stalwart isn’t worth an NBA dollar at this stage in his career. At 6-foot-9, with 13 years on his NBA odometer, and at 32 years-old, Wallace doesn’t bring much to the table other than being a recognizable bench player.
Detroit would fall of the wagon by signing their former big man. They’re entrenched in a youth movement, and unless they believe in Wallace’s ability to mentor young guns on the team, like Jason Maxiell, he isn’t worth the time or the money. If you’re committed to a youth movement, and an economic rebuilding phase, stick to the game plan, Joe Dumars.
At one time, it was easy to love Ben Wallace. He was a big guy, with big hair and big blocking. But it turns out that the only thing more important to him than his hair was cashing in on a reputation. He’s done that, won a ring, decorated his cabinet with defensive trophies, and now he’s just trying to get a bit more money. Big Ben stopped chiming in 2006. Let’s keep it that way.