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8.8 The Cooler

Ben Wallace is coming back home, and the Grizzlies are staying at home

By 08.08.09
Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace

You know if Ben Wallace was from, say, Antigua instead of Alabama, people would start questioning whether he’s been pulling a Miguel Tejada on us — that he’s really 3-4 years older than what he’s listed. (He’s officially 35.) It was only a couple years ago that Big Ben was still a force: getting his double-digit boards and two blocks a night on auto-pilot, staying deep in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion, and pulling down superstar-level money in the process. Seemingly overnight, things done changed: Wallace has only been as attractive as his expiring contract, he was barely a factor in the latter part of his tenure with the Bulls and his entire run in Cleveland, and now he’s settling for minimum-level money. What happened? Big Ben is headed back to Detroit now, agreeing to a one-year, $1.3M deal with the Pistons yesterday … Kind of strange that with all the work Joe Dumars has done to give the Pistons a makeover from their Ben Wallace/Chauncey Billups-era heyday, now he goes and brings back one of the original blasts from the past. Just having Ben around could indirectly raise expectations in Detroit to an unreasonable level, but the team needed to do something. Their frontcourt rotation was patchwork at best with Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Kwame Brown, Chris Wilcox, and rookie Jonas Jerebko, and they could use some muscle and experience. But does Wallace have anything left? … If LeBron was hoping to just make the negativity surrounding his offseason go away by addressing all the issues this week and watching them disappear, he got the wrong idea. After clearing the air on the “dunk tape” and his 2010 free agency, LBJ then discussed the Orlando Non-Handshake: “I look at the handshake like this,” James said. “During the regular season, no one ever says anything. We play 82 regular season games, eight preseason games, guys at the end of the game, no one ever shakes hands. Ever. And you move on to the next game. The congratulations, I congratulated Dwight (Howard) via e-mail, told him congratulations and good luck in the Finals. The shaking hands thing is really not a big thing for me. It’s not [like] I’m a sore loser or anything like that. I’m just moving on. You guys beat me. I think sometimes people want you to accept losing, and I will never accept losing. There’s ways to handle it certain times, and shaking hands may be it. But I will never accept losing, at anything that I do.” … Dime’s Aron Phillips is in Cleveland for the LeBron James Innovation & Inspiration Summit, and along with stories about ‘Bron that he’ll share with you guys later, threw in this note last night: “In the streets of Cleveland, just ran into Ron Harper. He definitely holds down the blocks.” … Last weekend in Smack we speculated that O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay and the rest of the Grizzlies could be on their way to a new city (Seattle) if things keep going the way they’re going financially. But probably the reason the Grizzlies aren’t the New Sonics right now is their lease with the FedEx Forum and the city of Memphis, which would cost an owner a sh*tload of money to break at this point. On that note, Griz owner Michael Heisley said the team isn’t going anywhere (soon). “The team cannot be moved,” Heisley told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. “It isn’t me saying this to be a good guy. There are obligations and commitments to the city and county. It’s ridiculous to think we can move this team.” … Meanwhile, Heisley’s basketball people in the front office continue to make jokes of themselves. GM Chris Wallace has already earned the nickname “The Money Launderer” in multiple circles for getting involved in trades that seemingly don’t help his team whatsoever but allow everyone else to operate smoothly (Pau Gasol?), and today did it again: The Grizzlies sent a second-round pick to the Nuggets for Steven Hunter and a 2010 pick. Yes, the same Hunter whose knee kept him out all last year, the same Hunter who plays the same position (center) where the Grizzlies already go three-deep including rookie project Hasheem Thabeet. The Nuggets’ first-rounder next year is most likely gonna be in the 23-28 range, so why even make the move? Oh yeah, it helps the Nuggets save $7.4 million in luxury taxes … After comments on his (alleged) Twitter page made it look like Big Baby Davis was getting frustrated with the speed of Boston’s effort to re-sign him, Baby told Danny Ainge it actually wasn’t him, it was a Twitter impostor. We kind of had our suspicions when the pretend-Baby tweeted, “Man this whole-grain bagel is good.” … We’re out like Steven Hunter …


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