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Dumars: 'Sheed 'the right guy' at right time

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Rasheed Wallace seemed very
comfortable in his new home.

When Wallace met with reporters Friday morning after signing a
$57 million, five-year contract to stay with the Detroit Pistons,
he strolled into the news conference looking like he was walking
into his living room.

Wallace sported flip flops, white socks, blue athletic shorts, a
matching top, and an NBA championship hat he helped Detroit win.

"It's definitely great to be back," he said. "The next five
years, we definitely got to do it a couple more times."

The Pistons acquired Wallace, with an expiring contract, from
Atlanta in a three-team deal just before the trading deadline on
Feb. 19 for reserves and two No. 1 picks.

Detroit was 12 games over .500 before adding the 6-foot-11
forward, but the man running the team wasn't satisfied.

"We went on a 13-game winning streak, but I knew in my heart of
hearts that we weren't good enough to win it all," Pistons
president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said. "I knew it
would take an impact player, a big-time talent, who was unselfish
and a great teammate, to put us over the top.

"There's no question in my mind that Rasheed Wallace was that
guy."

With Wallace, Detroit was 20-6 in the regular season and 16-7 in
the playoffs, including a five-game series in the NBA Finals
against the Los Angeles Lakers.

He averaged 16 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 blocks
in the regular season, his ninth in the NBA. His statistics were
similar in the postseason.

"You have to get beyond just the numbers," Dumars said.
"There was a lot more that he brought to the team than just how
many points per game he averaged. That doesn't tell the whole
story."

Wallace gave Detroit an emotionally fiery player it didn't have;
an occasional low-post presence it lacked; and another defender
near the basket it needed next to Ben Wallace.

Even though the Pistons wanted him back -- and were willing to
pay the unrestricted free agent twice as much as any other suitor --
negotiations slowed down when players without Rasheed Wallace's
credentials signed lucrative contracts.

"It made my job harder," Dumars said. "Every day one would
come out, and I would say, 'You've got to be kidding me.' "

NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups said it was "huge" to have
Wallace back.

"It solidifies everything we wanted to do in the next few
years," Billups said. "By getting this done and signing Antonio
McDyess, it shows that we're serious about repeating."

Detroit signed McDyess to a $23 million, four-year deal to
replace reserve Mehmet Okur, who signed a $50 million, six-year
offer sheet from Utah.

The NBA champions also have signed 2003 first-round pick
Carlos Delfino, who played in Europe last season, and free agent forward
Ronald Dupree. Dumars hopes to re-sign reserves Lindsey Hunter and
Darvin Ham, and to add another reserve point guard.

The Pistons appear to be the perfect fit for Wallace because
they don't want or need him to be a star, like his previous teams
did.

The former North Carolina standout was drafted by Washington
with the fourth overall pick in 1995, but only stayed there one
season before being traded to Portland.

Following seven-plus seasons with the Trail Blazers, where his
temper made him infamous, they dealt him to Atlanta. After one game
with the Hawks, he was sent to Detroit.

Wallace was called for just two technicals in the postseason, a
total that might have shocked some who followed his career in
Portland.

He broke his own NBA record with 41 technical fouls during the
2000-01 season, and once was suspended for seven games for
threatening an official after a game.

"You see this happen in sports periodically, where a player is
in a situation with a team and then there's a change of scenery and
a completely different chapter is written," Dumars said. "People
are going to remember two things about his career: his early days
in Portland, and all the controversy surrounding him. And his days
here where he starts off winning a championship, and he's on a
contender hopefully for the rest of his career.

"We absolutely have every intention of having him finish his
career here. Trust me, it's hard to find guys that are talented
like him, that can help you win championships."