While other fans have name-dropped the likes of Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire, Brendan Haywood and Marcus Camby as the answer for the Nuggets. I have a hard time sitting here and seeing a scenario where the Nuggets would add any of those four, just due to their contracts. And there is no role for any of them in Denver, unless you would deal Nene, K-Mart or the Birdman – but why would you make a deal that drastic when you have the third best record in the League (of course if giving up Nene/K-Mart to get Bosh, you’d kind of have to do it). However, with the makeup of the Nuggets team, they really just need a big who will be able to step in case of an injury or foul-trouble to Denver’s bigs.
And for me a guy like Ben Wallace is perfect for Denver this season. Just look at his resume. Four-time Defensive Player of the Year, he led the league in rebounds two years and blocks one. All-Defensive Team for five years and he won a title. He did all this while being undersized most nights, but definitely not outworked. Lets not forget he is 6-foot-6, maybe.
Somehow this guy has continued to proven doubters wrong, whether it was in college when he had to go through JUCO and finished at Virginia Union. Or going undrafted and having to play in the CBA. Or being traded to Detroit as a throw-in a Grant Hill trade. Just look at what he has done in his return with the Pistons this year at the age of 35. On his last leg, he is playing balls out (5.4 points, 9 rebounds, 1.26 steals, 1.18 blocks). For what? For a Detroit Pistons team that has greatly underachieved.
Isn’t it more appealing late in your career to play minor minutes on a championship contender team like the Nuggets than play 30 minutes a night for a squad that on most nights is going to get blown out? Isn’t it more fun to share a laugh from the bench and offer advice to Nene and Kenyon Martin than playing your butt off and seeing guys like Kwame Brown or Chris Wilcox on your side? Isn’t it more enjoyable to play for a coach like George Karl, who rewards hard work than a coach like John Kuester who is just learning the ropes? And hey, lets not forget who Big Ben won a title with Chauncey Billups, aka Mr. Big Shot.
WHY WOULD DENVER DO IT? First off, Detroit and Denver have shown in the past they have had really good relations especially on the trading front (Chauncey Billups and Arron Afflalo).And while the Nuggets have their rotation set, a veteran like Big Ben who has worked to make a living in the NBA would help Denver out when they face bigger teams like the Lakers. He also might be willing to share some advice with Nene on how to be aggressive on both sides of the ball. On top of that, his salary is very cap friendly. From what I’ve heard, players with veteran minimums (according to Hoophype and Hoopsworld Big Ben makes $1.306, while ESPN says he makes $.825 million) are paid by the League, aka Anthony Carter, Joey Graham and Johan Petro. Also doesn’t it sound better having Ben Wallace on your bench than Malik Allen or Johan Petro if Nene, K-Mart or Bird go down?
WHY WOULD DETROIT DO IT? While Denver may be reluctant to deal a draft pick, a trade exception isn’t out of the question (Sonny Weems, maybe?) or maybe a young center like Petro, who would have an opportunity to show what he can do in Detroit. Or maybe the rights to Linas Kleiza, which I doubt Denver would deal. Or maybe seldom used Renaldo Balkman, who’s hustle and energy would fit in nicely with a playoff team.
There are number of options/routes the Pistons can go around, maybe a second rounder, trade exceptions or even a Balkman who has a cap-friendly contract over the next few years. But no matter what move they make it will help them in the long run. Wallace has a one-year deal and this team isn’t going to make the playoffs, so why hold on to him? Trade him for something that in the long-run will help you out, a trade exceptions, a Renaldo Balkman, or even a draft pick.
Maybe I’m drinking too much of the Kool-Aid but seeing Ben Wallace come of the bench with The Birdman would be a fun sight to see. And maybe it is because it is getting to close to Valentine’s, but this just sounds like a match made in heaven.