Neither Detroit Pistons center-forward Ben Wallace nor his team can seem to make up their minds on the immediate status of the rebounding-defensive specialist.
Right now, Wallace doesn’t seem to give the team much value on the court. The talk is that Wallace can mentor the younger players. That’s also what assistant coaches are for in their roles.
When the 2011-12 season ended, it was pretty clear the respect the organization still had for the big guy.
“It has been an honor just to watch him every single day,” said Pistons coach Lawrence Frank. “One of the great competitors who have played this game, from White Hall, Alabama, undrafted. Initially diagnosed as a two guard, to then come down and be one of the great defensive players to ever play the game. He brought a championship to this city and to still be able to play at a high level at his age. He impacts the game every single time he steps on the court, to be the ultimate professional in terms of how he approaches his job. Everyday it’s clockwork.
“He’s going to mentor players and he’s going to lead by example. It’s been a privilege; I speak for all the coaches, to see him work every single day. I’ve been fortunate over my time to be around some really special players and Ben is right there. He’s a Hall-of-Fame credential player.”
But Wallace’s lack of offensive skills, which have dwindled year by year, make him someone the defenses can virtually ignore to make him another liability for the team. Players like Tayshaun Prince don’t see it that way, but are being overly polite.
“I was able to see first-hand what hard work was about, just the competitive nature he brought to the game and just how he related to everybody else on the team and how we were able to accomplish so many things at that time,” Prince said. “But it was self-explanatory what the fans thought about him. You got all the kids and the fans in the stands with afros and we all got headbands on. It was a great time today to be able to do that. He’s meant a lot to this organization but I think he’s meant a lot to the players who came in the league as young guns and was able to be able to play with him and experience what it takes to be able to achieve in this league.”
Prince wouldn’t be surprised to see Wallace, a teammate on the 2004 world title team, try it for another season.
“We all know Ben still has the capability of going out there and playing each and every night at a high level, we do know that,” Prince said. “But I think the decision will be based on other things.”
Sure, he could be a role model for Pistons rookies including Andre Drummond, the team’s No. 1 pick. But he’d be a rather expensive role model. The Panathinaikos Basketball Club of the Greek League has given Wallace some interest. That would probably be Wallace’s best bet.