3-on-3: Trading Ben Wallace

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, Patrick and I will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. We’re going to use 3-on-3s to assess the tradability of each Piston leading up to the March 15 trade deadline.

For each 3-on-3, we’ll be joined by a guest contributor. Today, that’s Ben Gulker of Pistons by the Numbers and Detroit Bad Boys.

Please add your responses in the comment.

1. How motivated are the Pistons to trade Ben Wallace?

Dan Feldman: Whether the Pistons trade Wallace should be – and likely is – up to him. The question – which, I wrote, incidentally, really should be: Does Wallace want the Pistons to trade him? I’m guessing the answer is no, meaning the Pistons have very little motivation to trade Wallace.

Patrick Hayes: There was a time, in Wallace’s first season back with the Pistons when he had a bit of a late Renaissance type season, when I thought they should’ve at least considered seeing if they could get a pick for him. That time has passed. With Wallace announcing his intention to retire, and with his body just not allowing him to help all that much anymore, it would be the ultimate insult to trade him now. Unless Joe Dumars is out for revenge for Wallace leaving for Chicago years ago. In that case, trade him to Charlotte or something.

Ben Gulker: Sentimentally speaking, I hope they are entirely unmotivated. Next to Greg Monroe’s emergence, the “Benaissance” has been the most enjoyable part of the past few seasons. That he chose to come back to Detroit to end his career has earned him the right to retire a Piston if he wants to. Pragmatically speaking, it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where trading Ben Wallace brings back the types of building blocks Dumars is seeking. His relatively small salary won’t fetch much on its own, and the truth is – as much as I love him – he’s not going to make a larger trade all that much sweeter. Of the players the Pistons might be motivated to trade, Ben Wallace is probably – hopefully – at the bottom of the list.

2. How motivated are other teams to trade for Ben Wallace?

Dan Feldman: A cheap, smart, big man who can rebound and defend in limited minutes – I think every contending team could use someone like Wallace. I suspect, however, most teams know not to bother asking.

Patrick Hayes: Not very, although I think if teams actually thought he was available, someone might try to get him cheap. Sure, he’s only able, at best, to give 10-15 minutes of defense and toughness most nights, but there’s always a need for big man depth for teams that fancy themselves contenders. Someone would take a run at him if there was a chance the Pistons would part with him, but the return wouldn’t be anything of significance.

Ben Gulker: Not very. Not because Ben Wallace doesn’t have value – he does in the right situation and role – but because it’s hard to envision a mutually beneficial scenario between Detroit and the teams who would benefit from acquiring Big Ben. Presumably, playoff teams looking to add experienced, short-term depth up front would be suitors for Ben Wallace. As he has demonstrated all season, he’s still capable of providing solid post defense and rebounding when his minutes are managed smartly. He’d make a great fourth or fifth big for any team in a playoff series.

But, what would any team in that situation give up that Detroit wants (and I will add, that also doesn’t further disenfranchise an already frustrated fan base)? I struggle to answer that question.

3. How likely are the Pistons to trade Ben Wallace?

Dan Feldman: When Wallace re-signed two years ago, he knew what the Pistons were. Detroit’s terrible record is no surprise. This is what Wallace signed up for, and the Pistons are better for it. I can’t imagine them screwing up the homecoming Wallace wanted by trading him against his wishes.

Patrick Hayes: Not likely at all. Save for Wallace suddenly having a mid-life crisis and deciding he’d like one more title run, he’s going to finish his career in Detroit as planned. It’s conceivable, I guess, that a trade scenario could emerge where Wallace’s salary was needed to make it work. If that happened, I would guess Wallace would just call it a career a few games early.

Ben Gulker: About as unlikely as it gets. Practically speaking, I don’t see a mutually beneficial scenario. But beyond that, I simply can’t imagine Wallace would have signed his most recent contract with Detroit without a mutual understanding that he was signing his final contract to finish his career on his terms. And finishing his career in Detroit seems like the way it ought to be.

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