Big Ben return rumors pick up steam

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The rumors have started
getting louder on Twitter.

No, not the ones about anyone’s love life. The rumor that Ben Wallace is going
to come back to the Pistons for the 2012-13 season.

The reports aren’t surprising — even during the celebrations at what was
supposed to be Big Ben’s final home game, it was obvious that there were people
trying to convince him to come back. You might think that would have changed
after the Pistons drafted Andre Drummond — a player that is expected to fill
Wallace’s spot in the lineup.

Instead, drafting Drummond has made certain members of the Pistons front office
even more interested in bringing Wallace back for another year. The two biggest
questions facing the 18-year-old Drummond are maturity and work ethic, and
Wallace would provide a perfect mentor in both ways.

Wallace still has a little bit to offer on the floor, as well. While he’s
nowhere near the dominant defensive force that he was in the Pistons’ glory
days, he can still give them 10-15 minutes of energy, rebounding and defense on
most nights. The problem, though, is that the Pistons are already overflowing
with contracts, and would have to do some serious roster-juggling to fit
Wallace onto the 15-man roster.

Not only do they have nine players under contract from last season, they have
added Corey Maggette in the Ben Gordon trade and they want to bring in as many
as five new players — draft picks Drummond, Kim English and Khris Middleton,
along with 2011 pick Kyle Singler and Ukranian prospect Vyacheslav Kravtsov.
Things are crowded enough that the Pistons had to part ways with Vernon
Macklin, a prospect they liked, because they knew they wouldn’t be able to find
a place for him on the roster.

There are ways for Detroit to open up a roster spot. If Tom Gores wants to pay
Charlie Villanueva several million dollars to play for another team, the
Pistons could waive him with the use of the amnesty clause. They also could
move Austin Daye, whose rookie contract expires this season, but that move is
more likely to come at the trading deadline. They still haven’t signed
Middleton, and could let him play a season in Europe.

None of those moves, though, seem likely. Letting Villanueva go without signing
another player would seem like a waste of money to a businessman like Gores,
while giving up on Daye or Middleton would hurt the progress of someone who
could help Detroit in the future.

Wallace, fabled for his work ethic on and off the floor, would certainly be a
good mentor for Drummond. However, since he doesn’t particularly want to play,
that might be best accomplished by making him an unofficial assistant coach and
Big Brother.