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Understanding Detroit’s offseason options

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With the draft just a couple of days away and the free agency period about to start on Saturday, you might be interested in reading up on the Pistons' salary cap/luxury cap situation. The short and easy answer is, the Pistons have a little bit of wiggle room, but not much.

DBB reader and PistonsForum.com admin TheMicrowave gives the long, technical explanation (Pistons Payroll 2006: Part 1), including various scenarios in which the Pistons do and do not re-sign Ben Wallace (Part 2). Justin Rogers from Full-Court Press also tackled this subject today and pretty much came up with the same conclusion: the Pistons won't have a lot of options unless they're willing to exceed the luxury tax threshold (and thus pay a dollar-for-dollar penalty).

All of this is quickly becoming relevant as we ponder Ben Wallace's future with the team. As most of us have grown to realize over the past few weeks, his return isn't as automatic as it once looked. From Sunday's Detroit Free Press:

Wallace recently had this to say in the Orlando Sentinel about his impending free agency: "Nothing in this league is automatic.

"I was never supposed to leave Washington. I was supposed to retire in Orlando. Strange things happen. It's not automatic."

In the same interview, he said, "it's not always just about the money. It's about having an opportunity to do what you're comfortable doing."

Wallace's new, high-powered agent, Arn Tellum, did not return a call for comment, and the Pistons can't talk about Wallace before the free-agency period begins Saturday.

It'll be interesting to see how much emphasis Wallace places on signing with a winning team, because only four teams can sign him away from Detroit without needing the Pistons' cooperation on a sign-and-trade: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago and Toronto. Of those teams, only Chicago made the playoffs this year. The Bulls have been rumored to be interested in Wallace all year, but not everyone in Chicago thinks he'd be a great fit.

In any event, even though the Pistons don't have barrels of money to spend, I anticipate this to be the team's most interesting offseason since 2002, when Chauncey Billups was signed as a free agent and Rip Hamilton was acquired from the Wizards for Jerry Stackhouse.