Kurt Helin

AUBURN HILLS - APRIL 18: Ben Wallace #3 of the Detroit Pistons celebrates during game one of round one of the 2004 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs April 18, 2004 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, in Auburn Hills, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images)
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Ben Wallace looking forward to jersey retirement with Pistons

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Ben Wallace understands the significance of a retired jersey and what it will mean for his legacy.

“When that jersey goes up, all fans that come to the arena look up there. … They want to know how those numbers get up there,” Wallace said. “I just feel honored and blessed to be one of those people that 20, 30 years from now, somebody’s going to come into an arena and see that jersey and be like, `Who’s that guy? What’s his story?’ I hope somebody remembers that story so they can help that fan out.”

Pistons fans certainly won’t forget Wallace any time soon, and the team will honor him by retiring his jersey Saturday night when Detroit hosts the Golden State Warriors. Chauncey Billups will have his jersey retired when the Pistons host Denver on Feb. 10.

Wallace played nine seasons with the Pistons, helping the team win the NBA title in 2004. He was one of the league’s top rebounders and won defensive player of the year honors four times in a five-year span from 2002-06.

Wallace retired after the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, when Detroit went 25-41. The Pistons haven’t made the playoffs since 2009, but Detroit (21-18) is making a bid to end that drought this season behind standout center Andre Drummond. Wallace says he still pays some attention to how his former team is doing.

“I watch basketball every now and then. … It’s still going to suck you in and make you feel like you can go out there and jump and dunk like Andre Drummond, maybe. But that ain’t going to happen,” Wallace said. “I peek at the team from time to time. I think they’re heading in the right direction right now. They’ve got a great group of young guys.”

 

LeBron James calls Tim Duncan the greatest power forward ever

San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Ducan (21) defends Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 99-95. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
Associated Press
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In our latest PBT Podcast, Spurs beat writer Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News postulated that if the Spurs win it all this season Tim Duncan will walk away, leaving on the high note of a sixth title. Even if the Spurs don’t win it all, there’s a fair chance this is the last tour for Duncan (although maybe he plays one more).

While Kobe Bryant‘s farewell tour is filling arenas and drawing headlines, Duncan is every bit as great a player as Bryant. Duncan may have played some center over the years (and does now), but he will go down as the greatest power forward the game has ever seen.

That’s not just my opinion; it’s what LeBron James posted on Instagram after the Spurs beat the Cavaliers on Thursday.

Reports: Nets have strong interest in Tom Thibodeau as coach, will hire GM first

Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game One
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Tom Thibodeau has a reputation for getting the most out of players, pushing them hard and getting them to play over their heads.

The Brooklyn Nets are going to need a lot of that in the coming years, considering the state of their rebuilding efforts.

So it makes sense that the Nets have interest in Thibodeau to take over as their coach, but they want to hire a GM first, reports Marc Stein and Mike Mazzeo at ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Nets, while in the early stages of a search for both a new lead executive and a new coach in the wake of ousting general manager Billy King and Lionel Hollins, are likely to pursue Thibodeau once they can secure a successor to King….

…there is a growing sense in league circles that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants to hire established NBA names with considerable experience in the league. Because of that, the appeal of Thibodeau is obvious. As perhaps the most accomplished coach available, Thibodeau posted a record of 255-139 (.647) during his five seasons in Chicago.

Does Thibodeau switch pizza style loyalties based on who pays him?

It’s easy to understand the appeal of Thibodeau, he had fantastic success with the Bulls. But you can ask John Paxson and Gar Forman in Chicago how much it matters that whoever gets the GM job in Brooklyn is on the same page as the strong-willed Thibodeau. This is a guy who pushes back against analytics or suggestions of resting players, and he has strong opinions on what kinds of players he will want on his roster.

The Nets have a massive rebuilding project ahead — they do not control their own first-round pick until 2019, and no matter what owner Mikhail Prokhorov thinks this is going to take years — so picking the best GM for that rebuild is the most important decision. By far. Then they can worry about the coach.

Cavs’ Timofey Mozgov riding a bear? We can show you that.

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In case you missed one of the best and most unexpected tweets of the season six weeks ago, Dave McMenamin (who covers the Cavaliers for ESPN) tweeted this.

The Cavaliers’ marketing team was on it. Just too bad they had to CGI the bear.

Report: Rockets considering trades, but hard cap meant patience choice

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 09: James Harden #13 and Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets walk off the court during a first half timeout against the Washington Redskins at Verizon Center on December 9, 2015 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets are hard capped this season. GM Daryl Morey thought he had put together a contender — they had reached the Western Conference Finals last season and added Ty Lawson — so taking the hard cap on (by using part of their mid-level exception to bring them close to the apron) to bring in rookie second rounder Montrezl Harrell seemed a wise move.

Except things did not go smoothly for the Rockets to start the season, and suddenly having that hard cap became a problem. Calvin Watson explained it well at ESPN.

Make no mistake, the desire to trade players remains despite the improved record. The Rockets talked to teams about trades regarding forward Terrence Jones and Corey Brewer. Ty Lawson’s reps sought more playing time elsewhere and there was a report Dwight Howard wanted out, something he disputed.

When the Rockets signed second-round pick Montrezl Harrell to a three-year, $3.1 million deal during the summer, it used a portion of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, pushing them to the apron level of a hard salary cap of $88.7 million. Morey is limited in what he can do because he can’t take on a huge salary for this season with the hard cap.

The Rockets have won five in a row, they are playing better on defense, and things flow better with Patrick Beverley in the starting lineup and Ty Lawson off the bench. Still, the Rockets are not the title contenders they expected to be and Morey would love to make moves at the deadline to strengthen this team.

He just tied his own hands and can’t make any big ones.