Monday, July 03, 2006

Transaction Review: Big Ben and Speedy

Three days into the free agency period, I think we can agree that "very likely to return" doesn't mean a whole lot, as Ben Wallace looks to be the newest member of the Bulls. It's always fun when a signing like this shakes things up, and it's another example of one team you can't really blame for not wanting to overpay and another team who has no reason not to.

The Pistons recent success was built on a well-balanced team, both on the court and in the books. But after a team wins, the players want their share. It was initially reported that Wallace accepted at 4-year, $52 million deal from the Bulls after turning down $48 million from the Pistons, but it now looks like the deal from the Bulls is worth closer to $60 million, which makes a whole lot more sense. It just would have been very odd to see the Pistons pass on Wallace for a difference of just $4 million, especially in a league where guys like Dan Gadzuric and Etan Thomas sign $37 million deals.

Like the Stojakovic situation, it will be more interesting to see what the team losing the star does rather than what the star will do in his new digs. One of the first things that comes to mind with Wallace's departure from Detroit is, "Gee, it really would be nice to have Darko Mlicic around right now." That trade didn't make much sense then -- Kelvin Cato sure helped them out, didn't he? -- and it looks even worse now after Milicic showed flashes of that potential in Orlando. The Pistons will bring another big man into the mix. They really have no choice, as they simply can't go into the season with Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess and Dale Davis as their only three bigs. Joel Przybilla and Nazr Mohammed are really the only centers out there, unless you count my main man Jackie Butler, who is a restricted free agent. Word is they're already going after Przybilla and I'd be surprised if Joe Dumars didn't get his man. He would be as good a fit as possible at this point, someone who could crash the boards, block some shots and not slow the team down too much on offense. Check out the p40 averages for Wallace and Przybilla last year.

Wallace: 8.3/12.8/2.2 with 2.0 steals, 2.5 blocks, 51% FG on 6.4 attempts
Przybilla: 9.9/11.2/1.2 with .6 steals, 3.7 blocks, 55% FG on 6.9 attempts

Just saying that from a fantasy perspective, if Przybilla replaces Wallace in the middle, the numbers might not be too far off. Przybilla's never averaged even 25 mpg, so his ability to play big minutes is in question. And he's not even on the team yet, so let's deal with that if and when it happens. Antonio McDyess is likely to see a bigger role, but you know that the Pistons would love to keep him coming off the bench in order to keep him as healthy as he's been.

Word out of Chicago was that this was a Reinsdorf deal, not a Paxson deal, and if the 4-year/$60 million are true, that would make sense. Reinsdorf probably figures he has the money to spend, it's his money, his team gave the eventual champions fits in the playoffs, why not go for it now? It would make sense to explore a Tyson Chandler deal now, but it's no sure thing he'll be moved. It's not like Mike Sweetney has earned the trust of Scott Skiles, Othella Harrington is a bench player and Tyrus Thomas will need some time to adjust. Dealing Chandler might be the Bulls only way to add another significant player, though, as it looks like they've spent almost all of their cap space on Wallace.

Wallace in Chicago? It should look a lot like Wallace in Detroit. Maybe they'll give him a few more looks on offense, but it's pretty well established the type of player he is. Is he in a decline? It looks more like he has declined. His 01-03 seasons were when he was an otherwordly force in boards and blocks. Now he's merely dominant. His PER rating has stayed remarkably consistent over the past three seasons (17.39, 17.52, 17.54). His p40 averages over the past three seasons:

03-04: 10.1/13.2/1.8, 1.9 steals, 3.2 blocks
04-05: 10.8/13.5/1.8, 1.6 steals, 2.6 blocks
05-06: 8.3/12.8/2.2, 2.0 steals, 2.5 blocks

Of course, the big question is how will Wallace's minutes be affected by Scott Skiles. Kirk Hinrich has been the only player in Chicago to get 35+ minutes consistently in Chicago the past few seasons. But a lot of Skiles' maneuvering was because he had a young team and liked to shake things up and keep everyone on their toes. Next year's squad will be expected to compete from the beginning, though, and maybe Skiles will have a more defined rotation from the outset. Maybe.

Speedy Claxton finds instant value as the starting PG in Atlanta. It's a great situation he's heading into; after all, this is a team that started Royal Ivey in the backcourt for 66 games last year. He should see considerable minutes, but the Hawks might try to keep him in the 30-35 range since Claxton's never managed to make through a season without missing at least 10 games with injury. If you take his stats over the past two seasons and prorate them out to 33 mpg you get 13.4/3.2/6.1 with 1.8 steals. It seems reasonable to expect that from Claxton in the ATL next season. He should be a solid #2 PG, but his injury history makes him a slight risk.

Claxton's arrival should dent Joe Johnson's value a bit. Johnson spent a lot of time at the point last year and came through with a very strong 6.5 apg, placing him right in between Kirk Hinrich and T.J. Ford, for comparison. It will be very tough to repeat that number with Claxton around. Johnson will still have plenty of value and can likely be considered toward the end of the second round.


Blogger Jeremy said...

Pryz stays in Portland to the happiness of many fans such as myself, while Nazr goes to Detroit.

6:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home