Thursday , May , 27 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Rasheed should stay in Detroit

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Detroit forward Rasheed Wallace is
scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the postseason.

The 29-year-old Wallace became a Piston late in the regular season after
the Portland Trail Blazers dealt him to the Atlanta Hawks, who then sent the
North Carolina Product to Detroit after he played just one game for them.

Wallace played 22 games during the regular season for the Pistons. He averaged
13.7 points and seven rebounds in over 30 minutes of action per game. In the
postseason, Wallace has averaged 12.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. He
has been a huge factor in the playoffs for the Pistons, who are appearing in
the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight year.

After the Pistons dropped Game 1 of the conference finals on the road to the
Indiana Pacers, Wallace guaranteed that Detroit would win Game 2. Wallace’s
guarantee became reality, as the Pistons knocked off the Pacers, 72-67, in the
second game of the set at Conseco Fieldhouse.

“You guys in the media always make a bigger deal out of the things that we do
or say than we do as a team,” said Ben Wallace about his teammates guarantee.
“Rasheed just felt like we let the last game slip away from us, especially
down the stretch. He felt like we did, that it was a game for us to take.”

A nine-year veteran, Rasheed Wallace seems to have adjusted very well to
Detroit’s style of play. He has sacrificed his offensive game for the better
of the team. Rasheed, who has been hampered by a foot injury throughout the
postseason, has shown a lot of heart by playing through the pain and has been
embraced by his teammates.

Various published reports have Rasheed rumored to be interested in possibly
signing with the New York Knicks, who have salary cap problems and cannot pay
him the money that he would be able to receive in Detroit because of the rules
of the cap.

In Detroit, Rasheed has a coach in Larry Brown, who appreciates his talents
and has figured out a way to mesh the talents of Rasheed with those of Richard
Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and the rest of the
Detroit players. Also, don’t forget about the North Carolina connection, which
seems to carry significant weight in those circles.

The former Blazer and Hawk has a history of not being able to control his
temper, which has led to numerous technical fouls and ejections. His time in
Detroit has been the opposite. Brown seems to have an understanding for
Rasheed and his style of play and that is the reason for the turnaround in his

Another key to Rasheed’s success in Detroit is that he respects his new head
coach. Brown’s Hall-of-Fame status helps, but there is a real connection and
understanding between the two personalities, and it goes a lot deeper than
their North Carolina ties.

As long as Rasheed is happy with the philosophy of defense before offense,
than there should not be much to think about when it comes to re-signing with
the Pistons. However, if Detroit wants to play for a team that relies heavily
on his offensive abilities than he could be looking for a new team. That is
the only factor that would keep Rasheed from staying with the Pistons.

There will be interest from other teams in the league for Rasheed’s services.
However, the Pistons have something great going and Rasheed knows it and
should want to be part of it.

Rasheed has found a home with the Pistons. The fans have embraced him and
have shown him by their cheers and signs that they want him make Detroit his
permanent residence. The smart move for Rasheed is to stay with the Pistons.
The grass in not always greener on the other side.