Ben Wallace may or may not have two official offers on the table. The Pistons made one for sure, but while the Bulls came sniffing around Detroit to talk to Wallace this weekend, it's unclear if they made their official bid before leaving.
According to the Detroit News, the Pistons' opening offer was a four-year deal worth $49.6 million. That's enough to make him the highest-paid player on the team next year (eclipsing Rasheed Wallace's salary by $100,000), but it wasn't enough for Big Ben. In an interview with the News, Wallace said: "It was disappointing. It was not at all what I expected."
All negotiations need a starting point, but Wallace was apparently hoping to skip past all of the posturing and start the discussion with a higher figure:
"I just thought we had a pretty good run there (with the Pistons) and I thought the offer would have been a bit better," he said. "I didn't think we had to really negotiate like that at this point. I just thought that initial offer wasn't altogether fair."
Wallace met with Bulls GM John Paxson and coach Scott Skiles over the weekend. Wallace told the Detroit News that he had a "real good" meeting with the Bulls, but denied that the Pistons division rivals ever made an official offer. The Detroit Free Press, on the other hand, suggests otherwise, indicating today that the Bulls are talking about a contract closer to $52 million over four years.
The good news (for both teams, really) is that Wallace isn't looking for a contract longer than four years. He's already 32 years old, and he seems to recognize that a player with his specific skill-set won't be nearly as valuable at the end of his next contract as he will be in the beginning.
If you believe Wallace, this could turn into something more than a two-horse race. He told the Detroit News that he expects to hear from the Wizards, Knicks and Cavaliers today, although all three of those teams (as well as the Sixers, who contacted Wallace's agent over the weekend) don't have enough room under the salary cap to sign Wallace without orchestrating a sign-and-trade.
Even though the Bulls do have enough room should Wallace ultimately agree to sign with them, they also may be interested in clearing up more salary through a sign-and-trade. Tyson Chandler has been rumored to be on the block all year, and netting a 23-year-old, 7-foot-1 center wouldn't be a bad consolation prize for Detroit. Chandler has many of the same offensive limitations as Wallace, and at 235 pounds he's often pushed around by larger frontcourt players, but he's a solid rebounder and shot blocker who at the very least would be an excellent addition to the bench.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not ready to concede Big Ben to the Bulls, but it doesn't hurt to consider alternatives. As such, I'm curious by some of the other teams Wallace claims are interested. Who could the Wizards, Knicks and Cavs offer that Detroit would actually want? Philadelphia has some interesting pieces, but it's tough figuring out what direction that team is going until they get Allen Iverson's situation figured out.