Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Big Ben and the Bulls.

So big, bad Ben Wallace is a Bull. And I'm torn.

Good: Ben Wallace is a championship-tested veteran who can lead.

Bad: Ben Wallace makes Shaquille O'Neal look like Rick Barry from the line.

Good: Ben Wallace is a defensive and rebounding machine who fits perfectly into Scott Skiles's system.

Bad: Ben Wallace is a one-way player who couldn't score in a roomful of drunken hookers on X.

Good: Ben Wallace is a premier free agent—the first to sign with the Bulls since, well, I don't even remember who.

Bad: Ben Wallace is a 32-year-old who will make $60 million over the next four seasons.

So yeah, I don't know. I like Big Ben, fear the 'fro as much as anyone. But don't the Bulls need scoring? And don't you reserve that sort of money for people who can play at both ends of the floor? Also, it's not going to be much fun if the Bulls win 55 games next season while averaging 75 points a game.

Still, I'll take it. It's not like they were going to land Allen Iverson or Kevin Garnett, and Tyrus Thomas probably won't be ready right away. Factor in the double whammy of taking the defensive linchpin (and symbolic hairstyle) from the best team in their own division, and it seems like a win-win.

Yes, there's the money. Four years, $60 million. A lot to pay for a slightly more sane version of Dennis Rodman (watch the tape of the Artest melee again and remember how much of a role Big Ben played), someone who can't shoot his way out of a wet paper bag. Then again, with Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler gone, the cash is there. May as well use it. I'd rather see the cash go to a proven commodity—and as much as I like Al Harrington, Wallace was the best choice. His championship pedigree being the deciding factor.

It would be nice if J.R. Smith works out too—but if he doesn't, at least he comes off the books. It's hard to believe that Tyson Chandler is going to develop into much more than he is now, and if he doesn't, the Hornets will be looking to unload his contract soon enough. Peja Stojakovic's too, most likely.

Other things from this summer:

• It's nice that the Knicks are all happy and lovey-dovey with Coach Isiah, but let's see what's happening around New Year's.

• J.R. Rider arrested for felony cocaine possession? Never woulda guessed.

• Kirk Hinrich in, J.J. Redick out. Team USA just got a lot more likeable. And, well, better.

• A lot of people saw the T.J. Ford for Charlie Villanueva deal as a decided win for the Bucks. I'm not so sure.

• Kevin Garnett isn't going anywhere—unless the Wolves are out of it around the trade deadline, in which case he's gone for sure.

• I still have trouble believing that Allen Iverson will get traded to the Celtics. The CELTICS? Who were the Sixers archrival for decades, who play in their own DIVISION? Besides the fact that he'd drop 50-plus on his old squad four times a year, I don't think they want to see him in the playoffs. Um, assuming either team gets back there anytime soon.

Denver makes a lot more sense—as does any other Western team—but does Philly really have interest in Marcus Camby or Kenyon Martin? Put one of those guys alongside Chris Webber and you've got an orthopedist's dream come true. And one hell of an expensive frontcourt.

• If Amare Stoudemire is 100 percent next year (or even 85 percent), the Suns are my pick to win it all.

• I can't take credit for this one (thanks, Jeff Pearlman), but if you're the Nets, wouldn't you make an offer to Keith Van Horn? Frontcourt scoring, three-point range, and he'd probably take a hell of a pay cut to play with Jason Kidd.

• WNBA All-Star game tonight! Uh, yeah.

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