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DBB Countdown: Big Ben’s $48 million

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There are 48 days left until the Pistons kick off the 2008-09 season.

Speaking of 48, Ben Wallace turned down $48 million from the Pistons ((Or thereabouts. Some reports say Detroit went as high as $49.6 million, but logically if you turn down 49.6, you've also turned down 48. Or something. For the sake of the countdown, cut me some slack.)) two summers ago to accept a $60 million deal from the Bulls. Given Wallace's downward spiral ever since, some might say it's easily the best $48 million Detroit never spent.

His numbers have declined across the board, a trend that actually started his last few years in Detroit, and he's left a path of destruction across the Central Division. Signing Nazr Mohammed to replace him didn't exactly work out, but as we saw last year, it's a lot easier to make a mid-level mistake disappear than a failed franchise cornerstone. Dumars flipped Mohmamed for two expiring contracts; the Bulls flipped Wallace for Larry Hughes, who's still owed $25 million plus the next two years.

To be fair, I actually think Wallace's fate would have been different had he swallowed his pride and accepted Detroit's lesser offer. His decline was inevitable, but it would've been mitigated in a familiar system. He's not the presence in the paint he used to be, but there's no chance he would've let LeBron James drive the lane over and over (and over and over) in the now infamous Game 5. And while he clashed with Flip Saunders, in hindsight it's hard to say who was wrong. What's Michael Curry preaching this year? Rebounding and controlling the paint? How novel.

Hindsight is supposed to be 20/20, but I can't actually tell if the Pistons dodged a bullet or not. In theory his absence should have expedited the development of Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson, but instead the organization insisted on giving minutes to aging and mediocre big men like Nazr, Dale Davis, Chris Webber and Theo Ratliff. Wallace has disappointed, but so have the Pistons.

I call it a wash. What about you?

Previously on DBB:
July 3, 2006: Ben Wallace unhappy with Detroit's offer
July 4, 2006: With Ben Wallace gone, whither goest the Pistons?
July 5, 2006: Time for Plan C: Nazr Mohammed
July 5, 2006: Uncork the forks; Pistons will be alright