Ben Wallace makes it official, signs with Bulls

Updated: July 13, 2006, 11:50 PM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider

For the last six years, Ben Wallace has been the face of the Detroit Pistons. No more.

Marc Stein's take
Marc Stein
Add up the money and that opportunity, and even Ben Wallace couldn't resist walking away from what was regarded as the NBA's best five-man, all-for-one ensemble, as well as a city that treasured him.

That city is now in mourning: Independence Day 2006 will be recorded in local history as the day Detroiters woke up to Wallace's free-agent defection and Stevie Yzerman's retirement.

• For more of Marc Stein's analysis, Click here.

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Wallace signed a four-year contract from the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.

While the offer was first thought to be a four-year, $52 million deal, a source close to the negotiations has told ESPN.com that the deal is actually for four years and $60 million, with a starting salary of nearly $14 million a year.

Wallace made his decision to bolt the Pistons after a face-to-face meeting with general manager John Paxson and coach Scott Skiles. The Bulls, with room under the salary cap, also offered more money.

"I wasn't going to leave Detroit to go to a team that wasn't going to be a contender," Wallace said after he was introduced at a news conference Thursday.

"I'm glad to be part of a young, scrappy team."

Wallace helped Detroit advance to four straight conference finals -- the first team to do so since the Bulls of the early 1990s.

The move will come as a shock to Pistons fans who thought the chances Wallace would bolt from Detroit were slim to none.

The Pistons came out of the gate offering Wallace a whopping four-year, $48 million deal, but they told the four-time defensive player of the year that it was their final offer.

"I appreciate everything Detroit did for me and my family," Wallace told the Detroit News on July 3, after agreeing to Chicago's offer. "They gave me an opportunity to make a name for myself and we had an opportunity to win a championship together."

The signing clearly upgrades the Bulls' front court, albeit at an exorbitant price. The Bulls will have to use roughly $14 million of their projected $16.7 million in cap space to secure Wallace.

However, Wallace adds the veteran toughness and defensive presence the Bulls felt they lacked up front.

Wallace ranked fourth in the NBA last season in rebounding (11.3), ninth in blocks (2.2) and 10th in steals (1.78) -- the only player among the top 10 in all three categories.

The 31-year-old Wallace averaged 7.3 points this past season and has not averaged double digits in any of his 10 years in the league. Since beginning his career with the Washington Wizards, he has averaged 6.6 points and made 42 percent of his free throws.

Asked what the problem was with his free throw shooting, Wallace showed a sense of humor.

"I miss more than I make," he said.

The deal allowed the Bulls to agree to a trade with New Orleans sending Tyson Chandler to the Hornets for forward P.J. Brown and swingman J.R. Smith.

The move puts the Pistons in a difficult position.

They lose Wallace for nothing and don't have anything more than the $5.1 million mid-level exception to offer to potential replacements.

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.

Chad Ford

Senior Writer, NBA Insider

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