For Whom The Bell Tolls

So Big Ben is moving West to Chicago, and I’m still trying to figure out how this happened. I understand that the Pistons gave Wallace the biggest low-ball offer they could have given to the 4-time defensive Player of the Year. But haven’t the Pistons been creating cap space for just this moment?

Darko was making 4.1 million per year, and they completed the trade with the Magic just to clear room to resign Ben. So they all of a sudden decide he’s not worth it? It makes no sense. So they replace the best defensive player in the league with Nazr Mohammed, and are rumored to be interested in Joel Pryzbilla. Nazr Mohammed is set to make $6 million a year and Pryz is commanding even more than that. Say Pryz gets $7 million….you’ve just paid two players almost what Wallace will be making at $14 million.

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Actually now that I think about it….that might not be a bad plan. Detroit had one of the shortest benches in the East. So much so that the Heat exploited this during the playoffs. Any one dimesional player (especially a defensive one) shouldn’t be worth $14 million dollars a year. At the height of Dennis Rodman’s career he only made $9 million, and that was for only one year (1997). The very next year he dropped back down to $4.5 million. If Pryzbilla actually gets playing time (unlike in Portland) he could be pretty average offensively, which is light-years better than Wallace. But here’s the rub…

No one short of Kevin Garnett can match the energy and intensity of Ben Wallace. They will have to change their entire offense, and run much more. The likes of Sheed and McDyess haven’t had to run in years with the slowdown offense being prominent in Motown.

Ben Wallace is also a cult hero in Detroit….long before the Pistons even made the playoffs Detroit Fans were sporting Fros in the stands, and clammoring for the #3 jersey. When they finally won the Championship, and Ben Wallace came out with the Belt around his waist, the Blue Collar city knew they had found their Blue Collar guy.

It’s rare that you find someone like this in your orginization. The only thing I can compare it to personally is when the O’s lost Mike Mussina to the Yankees. The Yankees paid him $10 million in 2000, and the Orioles then decided to sign the likes of Dave Segui for $7 million in 2001…but that’s a completely different story (and one that will send me through the roof). The Kings of the low-ball offer these days are the RedSox….just ask Pedro and Damon. Sometimes you just can’t re-create a run in the playoffs or a World Series with guys of equal or even better talent.

So what’s the conclusion then? I’m really not sure. But on paper it looks like this:

Miami- New Jersey-
1) Jason Williams 1) Jason Kidd
2) Dwayne Wade 2) Vince Carter
3) Antoine Walker 3) Richard Jefferson
4) Udonis Haslem 4) Josh Boone/Jason Collins
5) Shaq 5) Nenad Krstic

Cleveland- Detroit-
1) Eric Snow 1) Chauncey Billups
2) Larry Hughes 2) Richard Hamilton
3) Lebron James 3) Tayshaun Prince
4) Donyell Marshall 4) Rasheed Wallace
5) Zydrunas Ilgauskas 5) Joel Pryzbilla/Nazr Mohammed

That is the top 4 seeds of last years playoffs, and Detroit looks like the worst now (especially down low) They have no one who can guard Shaq and no help defense on Wade. So Detroit gets worse within those four, but the rest of the East (with the exception of Indiana) is just going to get better. Chicago looks like the 4 seed now. The Wizards might learn how to play Defense to match their 4th best scoring in the league at 101.7 ppg. Boston will be better (as long as Doc doesn’t F it up). Milwaukee will be there in the end. Even Charlotte will be better with the young players gaining more experience.

The layback and wait approach will no longer work for the Pistons because their work-horse will be gone. They have zero rebounding, and no bodies down low. There’s no time better than now for predicitions, so here’s my Eastern Conference Playoffs for 2006-2007:

1) Miami Heat
2) Cleveland Cavaliers

3) New Jersey Nets
4) Chicago Bulls
5) Detroit Pistons
6) Washington Wizards
7) Boston Celtics
8) Milwaukee Bucks

…..that looks like a nightmare for the Pistons if you ask me.

*****UPDATE*****- Pryzbilla has apparently resigned with the TrailBlazers for 5 years $30 million. So much for that plan. But hey, Bonzi Wells is still available. (I hear he’s high on their list)

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