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2006 NBA Free Agency Is Here: Ben has Left Will A.I. Be Next?
By Clayton Ruley

Big Ben: The Bulls and The Pistons

The big move so far in the NBA Free Agency is Ben Wallace leaving the Detroit Pistons for the division rival Chicago Bulls. The Pistons thought by clearing cap space earlier in 2006 that they would most assuredly sign the four-time NBA Defensive Player of The Year for the rest of his career but things changed when Big Ben hired Arn Tellem as an agent midseason. Now after trading 2002 2 nd overall pick Darko Milicic to Orlando they left themselves without a center of the future!


The Pistons quickly signed free agent center Nazr Mohammad away from the San Antonio Spurs for less money and now have more money to grab a free agent reserve point guard and swingman to help their bench. I believe that was the main reason the Pistons didn't win the NBA title this year and although Ben Wallace was the heart of the team's defense efforts, he did little on offense and allowed teams to double off him and key on the other teams offensive threats. The Piston's Wallace and head coach Flip Saunders didn't mesh well also and that was evident towards the end of the season when Wallace refused to go into a late season game. Many believe by the time they faced the Miami Heat in conference finals the rift was too much to overcome.


It will be interesting to see the Bulls play with a defensive stalwart like Wallace who has at least 3 very good seasons left in him. It was clear to me that Chicago gave World Champion Miami fits with their youth and athleticism and was missing defense in their second round matchup. Now with Wallace and players like Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Andres Nocconi and recent acquisition of P.J. Brown the defense and scoring are here for the Bulls to step up in the conference.  


The Pistons won't be going anywhere either as their starting lineup of Rasheed Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Tayshawn Prince, Richard Hamilton and Nazr Mohammad is still the best in the East. Now if they can add those bench pieces to accompany Antonio McDyess they will uses Flip Saunders offense play calling skills to space and run the floor more.


Props go to both the Pistons' Joe Dumars and the Bulls' John Paxson because both knew what they needed even if they made mistakes to get to that point.

Dumars and the coaches he's had in place (Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown and now Flip Saunders) did a mediocre job of developing their young talent at best and led to the Milicic trade but to pay 15 million dollars for year for a one sided center when it could get you two to three players in free agency would be pigeonholing themselves for years to come.

For Paxson, realizing that his team needed veteran leadership and a anchor on defense overpaid for Wallace but knows it will benefit from his experience in the big games and he will help an already good defensive team to become a great one with plenty of young legs to boot!   


A.I. Has To Go: For The Sixers and Himself


Allen Iverson is a hall of fame player and will have his jersey retired by the Philadelphia 76ers when he finally retires but it's time for him to go.   If you've read my columns you know I'm not the biggest A.I. fan but that isn't why it's time to say bye to The Answer! It's time to say goodbye because the team can afford to bring in the veteran talent needed to help Iverson to a championship level and even if they could there's no guarantee that Iverson could co-exist with them.  

It's been ten years since Iverson came into the league and I truly wish his success wherever he goes but can you actually think of a player he's made better? I don't mean by scoring to lead to make his team win, which is a talent in itself, but actually making a player grow? Everyone I can think of, from Jerry Stackhouse to Bruce Bowen and Raja Bell have gotten better on other teams because someone shared the ball with them and I think Iverson has a problem with sharing the ball.

While 8 assists a game is good for the amount of touches Iverson gets on the regular I think he could average 11 assists easy if he made people like Andre Iguodala better. For example, imagine Iguodala on Phoenix playing with Steve Nash and tell me he couldn't be averaging 18 points instead of 12!

I'm not saying Iverson can't change (although after ten years I doubt it) but sometimes change is need for both parties and Iverson will have a fresh start to do the same thing or work as a cog (big or small) towards a teams success! Paired with players like Kevin Garnett or a young Carmelo Anthony would be good because he comes to that team knowing he's there to assist them and not be the number one option like he feels like he's entitled to be Philadelphia.

Whatever happens I don't want to get traded to Boston or any other Eastern Conference team because every time we will play that team we will have to hear about him and the team for good and bad.

Please Billy King make it as clean as possible and send him to the Western Conference! That way we will see him twice a year! The Sixers need to get some young cheap talent for Iverson in whatever trade they do and it would be better if it were in the form of a point guard, power forward and center to start or back up our currents. No Webber is a player that I'd get rid of because of his two years and 40-plus million dollar contract but I doubt it can happen! Then again you never know!




Will Big Ben make a super impact in Chicago? Will Allen Iverson be moved to the Western Conference? Let's Discuss Free Agency in 2006 on the GeoBoards!











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