Wallace Signing Shakes Up Central

At their highest level of success the Pistons relied on their defense to carry them, and at the centerpiece of that stalwart defense was center Ben Wallace. Unfortunately for Detroit, Ben Wallace recently agreed to a 4 year deal with divisional rival Chicago. The move struck a serious blow to the Pistons as 4 time defensive players of the year don’t come along that easily. The team attempted to minimize the damage by signing center Nazr Mohammed. The ex-Spur, ex-Knick, ex-Hawk, ex-Sixer will try to replace the rebounding void left by Ben, and add a scoring punch that Wallace never had. However Nazr’s not nearly the defender that Ben is, nor does his scoring make up the difference. Like their name implies, Detroit’s success relied on each Piston firing at an above average level, and without their defensive keystone they aren’t likely to sustain their high level of play.

Last year the Chicago Bulls finished 6th in the NBA on defense so Wallace doesn’t address a big need for them. However it doesn’t mean that the signing won’t make them better. One way Big Ben can help the Bulls is to make them the best defensive team in the league. There were 6 teams within 1 point per 100 possessions defensively of the Bulls (from the #3 Nets to the #8 Clippers). So while the Bulls were above average, there were a lot of teams that were comparable defensively. The difference between the #1 Spurs and #6 Bulls is the same difference between the #6 Bulls and the #17 Warriors. Using the pythagorean formula for expected wins, the Bulls would go from a 43 win team to a 54 win team by becoming an elite defensive team like the Spurs.

Wallace’s addition also allows the Bulls to move their other centers for more scoring punch. Both Tyson Chandler and the newly drafted Tyrus Thomas have the same strengths and weaknesses as Big Ben: strong at defense and rebounding, weak on offense. It doesn’t make sense for the Bulls to keep all 3, and with the dearth of centers around the league they should be able to move one of them with ease. Rumors are already circulating the mill about the Bulls moving Thomas to Minnesota for Garnett, and Chandler being swapped for the usual suspects (PJ Brown, Al Harrington, etc.) If the Bulls can nab a strong post player or an unhappy superstar they might become favorites in a strong Central division.

On the other hand, the biggest winners in the Ben Wallace sweepstakes could be the Cleveland Cavaliers. During the regular season the Cavs finished second in their division behind the Pistons, and Cleveland’s postseason was ended in the second round of the playoffs by Detroit. LeBron James is already playing MVP caliber ball, and if Ilgauskas and Hughes stay healthy for the year (and maybe with a little off-season tweaking) dismantling the Pistons could be just the thing they need to reach the Conference Finals.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

12 thoughts to “Wallace Signing Shakes Up Central”

  1. Sorry about the comment snafu. I was making some adjustments to the site.

    In any case, does anyone see why the Bulls would trade Chandler for PJ & JR? I just don’t see either filling a need nor do I see it being worth it for a 24 year old 7-footer that can rebound & play defense.

  2. I do. I have watched him attempt to resemble a basketball player for 5 years, it aint happening. His basketball IQ is in the single digits along with his ppg. I would have traded him and that contract for shoelaces.

  3. Both PJ Brown and JR have expiring contracts. Maybe Paxson will try to package them with a young guard or two mid-season for a post player that can score. Also, it could be a salary dump that will create more flexibility to sign a quality FA in 2007 (Garnett?).

    Why keep a poor man’s Ben Wallace when you have Ben Wallace?

  4. Out of curiosity:

    How many people find themselves rooting against the Knicks’ success this season so that Thomas will be let go?

    As much as Thomas has hurt the Knicks over the past few years, if they play uptempo ball and start winning, I think it will be hard not to get behind them.

    The only plus this offseason is that Isiah will probably not make any of his usual bad signings (like K-Mart) because he has to validate his current roster (and prove to the public and JD that last season was all Brown’s fault).

  5. I find myself rooting against the Knicks’ success so that the Bulls get a really high draft pick in 2007.

    I’m sorry – normally I don’t root against the Knicks. Isiah made me do it.

  6. Chandler is only 24, so it’s possible there is still some room for growth. He’s a fantastic rebounder, and can block shots. Statistically his scoring could use a lot of work & has regressed over the last few years, but at least his eFG & TS% are what you’d want out of a guy that kind find the bucket.

    With the dearth of bigmen around the league, it seems that Chandler still has a good amount of value. Look at the big men available this year: Chandler, Wilcox, Nazr, Przybilla, and Jackie Butler. I think Chandler would be worth more than 2 expiring contracts.

    On another note, anyone think with a pair of centers heading to the Bulls, Mike Sweetney can have a revival as a PF?

  7. Isaiah is not finish paying his debt
    Isaiah Thomas is not yet finish paying his debt, when he “disrespected” Jordan, Pippin, Paxson, the BULLS and all of Chicago (since he was raised in Chicago) “when he lead the walk off on the floor without acknowledging the Bulls when they sweep (4-0) his team the Pistons during the Chicago payoff victory over Pistons in the Conference Finals on way to their first NBA Championship in 1991.

    Therefore, the misguided Knicks, with Isaiah Thomas, Marbury and Francis will continue with the current NY Knick tradition: “Lose… Lose a lot”

    Can you see it (UpTempo Knicks) Marbury, Francis and Crawford, J. Rose, Nate Robinson raining up missed 40 ft 3pt’s because no one every wants to pass the ball because they never will get it back. The Big Post men (Curry,Frye) will never get the ball. Isaiah will not be able to displine, because its not in his previous coaching/GM experience. But still the players will collect their big pay checks and wear big diamond ear rings and wear starBury suits for the durations of their MEGA contracts.

    This team will only be happy during Team shoot-around before a game when they have 12 basketballs to shoot at the basket.

    No-one will ever get back on defense and yet they will still blame Larry Brown.. Remember Marbury calls himself “starBURY”, yet he has never won or produced a winning team at the point. Remember “Francis” is the guy who said “chicago will regret drafting Elton Brand before him”

    Too many Mega EGOs
    High Lottery Pick to chicago 2007

  8. On another note, anyone think with a pair of centers heading to the Bulls, Mike Sweetney can have a revival as a PF?

    * Possible, but I get the impression that Skiles’ dog house only has an entrance. Still, Sweets could remain useful there since Chi doesn’t appear to have much scoring on their frontline with Wallace, Tyrus Thomas, and Luol Deng.

    * I’m semi-intrigued to see if they can get anything out of JR Smith. If he’s willing to defend they can use his scoring.

  9. Sweetney, while loads of talent, won’t play much in Chicago (Skiles) unless he lays off the sweets and gets in shape (toning, muscles, etc), and plays better defense. Chicago is loaded in all positions with good players including the PF position with a player or two that will beat a heavy Sweetney for playing time. Skiles is probably one of the best up and coming new coaches (ie. Avery Johnson) and knows how to coach and truly plays a 10 player rotation well.

    I believe hard practices, and a good attitude will get a player out of Skiles dog house.

    JR Smith will need to mature, fast, be willing to listen and learn, Skiles, GM Paxson don’t care how many points you can put on the score board (i.e. Wake-up only during contract year “Tim Thomas”) . You must practice hard and be commited to defense and displine.

    Some how they believe offense takes care of it self?? with excellent defense!

    So you can see “Marbury, Francis, J. Rose” are not Chicago proto-typical players. Chicago fans appreciate Hard Work and hustle (“dennis rodman”) (Jordan, Pippin NBA all defensive 1st team many years).

    Look at the guy “Nocini” Now that’s a Chicago type stud. He probably gave the Miami Heat the toughest time (a single player) during this years playoff, averaging 22 pts/gm (6 game series) and tough defense.

    Knicks haven’t appreciate defense, by trading “trevor ariza” this young guy with the right mentoring will be in the class of “nocini” or miami’s “posey”.. You need this type of guy on your team (everybody can’t be “the” scorer).

    I believe Isaiah recognize the need to beef-up defense and prematurely took “Balkman”. Think Isaiah is re-thinking his playing days and the importance of “Rodman”? Hopefully this kid pans out as a Rodman type!!!

  10. I’m not a Knicks fan, but I find myself rooting for the Knicks to lose moreso than other teams. I can’t say why exactly. I liked Isiah a lot as a player, and I had great admiration for Larry Brown. It might be because Isiah seemed to go out of his way to collect players I don’t like very much. Guys who play “the wrong way” — Marbury, Jalen, Francis, Crawford, Curry spring instantly to mind. The move to lock up Jerome James for so long at that kind of money when basically ALL the evidence said the guy sucked.

    As for the Bulls, I’m not convinced they’ve helped themselves very much. They were terrific defensively the past couple seasons, but bad offensively. But, they’ve gone out and added more defense. Wallace and Thomas might make them a little better defensively, but I don’t see them making the “leap” until they upgrade the offense.

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