"There he is!" Darvin Ham said. "Welcome!"
"It's definitely a fresh start for me," Wallace said before he
made his Detroit debut against Minnesota. "This is where
basketball has taken my journey. It's pretty much revamped my
career. I'm looking forward to it."
When Wallace stepped on the court with 4:31 left in the first
quarter, he was welcomed with a rousing, standing ovation. After
missing his first shot, he made two straight baskets, the second a
long jumper over Kevin Garnett.
Wallace, a two-time All-Star, has averaged 16.1 points and 6.7
rebounds during nine NBA years, and 17.1 points and 6.6 rebounds
Pistons coach Larry Brown said Wallace is one of the top five
players in the league.
But he tried to downplay expectations for Wallace.
"I don't want anybody to think he's coming in here to save
us," Brown said.
Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said Wallace gives Detroit a
chance to contend for the NBA title.
"They were already one of the top three teams in the East, but
now they have to be considered a serious threat to go all the
way," Saunders said.
"If I don't screw us up, we have a chance to make a run," he
In a deal put together shortly before the NBA trading deadline
on Thursday, Detroit sent reserves Zeljko Rebraca, Bob Sura and a
first-round draft pick to Atlanta. That pick will come from
Milwaukee this year if the Bucks make the playoffs.
Besides adding Wallace for the rest of the season, the deal will
put Detroit about $10 million under the salary cap this summer.
Wallace, in the final year of a contract that pays him $17
million this season, was called for a league-record 41 technical
fouls in the 2000-01 season. Last season, he and former Portland
teammate Damon Stoudamire were cited in Washington state on
marijuana charges while returning from a game in Seattle.
Wallace was also suspended by the NBA for seven games for
threatening an official on an arena loading dock after a home game.
That was the league's longest suspension for something that didn't
involve physical contact or substance abuse.
"I remember when I was a player and a young coach, when things went wrong, I did crazy things because I wanted to win so badly,"
Brown said. "It's taken me over 30 years to calm down, for the
most part, and I'm still fighting that every day.
"When you see him go nuts on the court, it's because he cares
about winning. I want to fight his battles."
Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said
Wallace's past problems never entered into his decision-making
"Everywhere he has been, his teammates and coaches rave about
him as a teammate and as a guy to coach," Dumars said. "I don't
think you've ever seen him have issues with his coaches or his
teammates. It's always been officiating and getting upset about
"This is a situation where he is going to be surrounded by
high-character guys and it is going to be a great environment for