Wednesday , Jul , 12 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Big Ben set to join Baby Bulls

Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – The balance of power will officially shift in
the Eastern Conference on Thursday when former Detroit forward Ben Wallace is
introduced as a member of the Chicago Bulls.

Wallace will be joined by Bulls general manager John Paxson and head coach
Scott Skiles at the United Center for the official announcement Thursday.

Wallace accepted a four-year offer from the Bulls, according to the
Chicago Tribune, last week, but the contract couldn’t be officially signed
until Wednesday.

Adding Wallace makes Chicago a significant player in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls have been on the brink of something special during two consecutive
postseason appearances, but made early exits because they lacked a defensive
interior presence.

Wallace was the only player to finish in the top 10 in rebounds, blocks and
steals last season. He also became the second four-time winner of the
Defensive Player of the Year Award.

The deal has a domino effect on the rest of the Central Division. Detroit
loses a significant cog in its team-first persona after winning a franchise-
record 64 games last season before being knocked off by eventual NBA champion
Miami in the Eastern Conference finals.

Cleveland still has LeBron James, Milwaukee added big man Charlie Villanueva
in a trade for T.J. Ford and Chicago had a quality draft, choosing high-flyer
Tyrus Thomas and Swiss Thabo Sefolosha during the first round, to go along
with a dynamic backcourt of Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon.

The acquisition of Wallace also apparently made big man Tyson Chandler
expendable, as league sources confirmed to the Tribune that the Bulls will
ship Chandler to the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets for forward P.J.
Brown and swingman J.R. Smith. Brown is a veteran presence who will give
the young squad immediate legitimacy with referees. He is also in the final
year of his contract, giving the Bulls ample salary cap space to sign the
core group of Hinrich, Gordon and Luol Deng if they wish.

Smith is a player with enormous talent, yet has shown an aloof personality
throughout his brief NBA career. He has two traits the Bulls sought in the
offseason — length on the perimeter and the ability to score — but it is
unclear whether or not his personality will mesh with the hard-nosed Skiles.

The 31-year-old Wallace averaged 7.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and a
career-high 1.8 steals to anchor Detroit’s defense last season. In his 10-year
career, Wallace has averages of 6.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per
contest.

CHI