Friday , Feb , 20 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Detroit gets stronger at trade deadline

(Sports Network) – Detroit has made some big noise, as it completed a major
deal before the NBA trading deadline passed at 3 p.m. (et) on Thursday.

The transaction of the day was a three-team trade that included two Central
Division squads and an Atlantic Division team. The Atlanta Hawks traded
forward Rasheed Wallace to the Pistons as part of a three-team deal
that also included the Boston Celtics. In addition to Wallace, Detroit also
received guard Mike James from the Celtics. Meanwhile, Atlanta acquired
forward Chris Mills from Boston and center Zeljko Rebraca and guard Bob Sura
from Detroit. Also, the Hawks obtained the rights to Milwaukee’s 2004 first-
round draft choice, which Detroit previously acquired from Denver.

The Celtics received guards Chucky Atkins and Lindsey Hunter, both of whom
were with the Pistons, Detroit’s 2004 first-round selection and cash
considerations.

Wallace, who was dealt to Atlanta along with Wesley Person by Portland for
forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim, center Theo Ratliff and guard Dan Dickau on
February 9, played just one game for the Hawks, scoring 20 points and grabbing
six rebounds in a loss to New Jersey on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Wallace will be a free agent at the end of the season. But
that didn’t stop Detroit from taking a chance at acquiring a player that
could be the difference in the playoffs in the East.

Detroit president of basketball operations Joe Dumars did say that he would
like Wallace to have a future with the Pistons.

“We’d like to (sign Wallace),” said Dumars. “If he decides he’s going to walk,
or we can sit down and talk. We’ll make it very clear when he gets here that
we’d like to have him here and that we’d like for there to be a long-term
relationship.”

Dumars also said that Detroit head coach Larry Brown was happy to have Wallace
in the fold.

“He (Brown) was very happy,” said Dumars. “He’s a Rasheed fan, he’s a Carolina
guy, and you know how Larry is partial to those guys. He’s a big-time talent,
and then you hand him over to your coach and giving him a chance to win more
games – Larry was very happy to say the least.”

With the addition of Wallace, who has averaged 16.1 points and 6.7 rebounds
over 610 games in his career, Detroit will have a potent starting lineup that
consists of Ben Wallace at center, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince at the
forwards and Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton in the backcourt.

According to Dumars, Rasheed Wallace is happy to be a member of the Pistons.

“He (Rasheed) was very happy,” said Dumars. “He’s looking forward to it. He
knows what type of guys we have. He and Larry talked on the phone, they got
caught up, and he sounded very excited to be coming here. We clearly feel like
he’s a guy that can fit. We think he’s a guy that can come in and give us some
juice. We’re not looking at him as the guy that’s going to save us; we just
think that he’s an incredible piece to add to the mix that we already have.”

The highly volatile Rasheed Wallace should be able to fit right in with
Detroit. He can pass, rebound, score and runs the floor very well. Rasheed
will have to pick up his defensive intensity, but he is a welcomed addition.

Detroit hosts the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, which could mark
Rasheed Wallace’s debut in a Pistons’ uniform.

“There’s a chance that he will play tomorrow night (against Minnesota),” said
Dumars. “There’s one physical that has to be taken. Once the physical is
taken, if it’s taken between tonight (Thursday) and 8:00 tomorrow, he’ll have
a chance to play. We’ll wait and see what happens. Tomorrow wouldn’t be a bad
game to play.”

The Indiana Pacers, who are without All-Star Ron Artest for an indefinite
period of time because of a thumb injury, and the New Jersey Nets have to be a
very concerned with Detroit’s move.

With the acquisition of Rasheed Wallace, Detroit is now the favorite to come
out of the Eastern Conference and play in the NBA Finals for the first time
since 1990, when they won the second of back-to-back championships.

DET