Rasheed Wallace on way to Boston

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He had a great run in Detroit, but it looks like Rasheed Wallace is leaving. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated has the scoop:

Free agent forward Rasheed Wallace has agreed to sign with the Boston Celtics, Wallace’s agent, Bill Strickland, told SI.com on Sunday. Wallace, who chose the Celtics over San Antonio and Orlando, is believed to have agreed to a two-year deal for Boston’s mid-level exception.

A 14-year NBA veteran, Wallace averaged 12.0 points and 7.4 rebounds with the Detroit Pistons last season.

Well, I didn’t liked Rasheed until he was traded to Detroit during my years at Western Michigan University. Needless to say, I swiftly became a fan as I watched the Pistons rise to the top of the league for the first time since the days of Isaiah Thomas and company. He’s been a polarizing player in the NBA, strongly disliked by many and just as strongly adored by the remainder. Whether or not people like him, he’s quite a character and always entertaining in one way or another.

After the Pistons’ early exit from the playoffs this year, and of course foreshadowed by the Chauncey Billups trade, it’s easy to see the need for a restructuring in Detroit. They need a new core to their team. With Rasheed out, I wonder if Rip Hamilton or Tayshaun Prince will be next…

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2009 NBA Free Agency Preview: The top restricted free agents

Yesterday, I ranked the top unrestricted free agents of 2009, but now it’s time to look at this summer’s crop of restricted free agents (RFA). Teams can sign an RFA to an offer sheet, then his team has seven days to match that offer to retain him. If the player doesn’t sign an offer sheet and can’t come to terms on a new contract with his current team, then he will play for a year for the qualifying offer and then become an unrestricted free agent the following summer.

For each player, I’ll provide his position, age, Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and an estimate of what kind of contract he’s likely to sign. They’re ranked in order of total value, which is based on overall talent, age, injury history and cost.

1. Paul Millsap, PF (24)
PER: 18.71
In his third year, this former second round pick had the best season of his career. He averaged 13.5 points and 8.6 rebounds, while shooting better than 53% from the field. While Carlos Boozer was out in December and January, the Jazz got a preview of what this kid can do when he gets starter’s minutes. He was a 17/11 guy during those two months, but the Jazz only went 11-13 in games in which Millsap played during that span. His camp expects a deal similar to the one David Lee is asking for, so something in the $10 million per season range. Is he worth it? Probably. And from the sound of it, the Jazz plan on offering him a deal that will keep him from testing the market. If he does explore his options, it may pay off as the Thunder and Pistons are rumored to have interest.
Value: $9.5 – $10.5 million per year

2. David Lee, PF (26)
PER: 19.07
GM Donnie Walsh said that the Knicks’ picking Jordan Hill in this year’s draft has nothing to do with Lee, but the two play the same position, so of course it’s going to have an effect on how the Knicks and Lee each view their relationship. The other issue is that two of the Knicks’ targets in 2010 are Chris Bosh and Amare Stoudemire might also play the same position as Lee, though Mike D’Antoni would likely play either at center, allowing Lee to play power forward. He gets most of his points off the glass, so he’d be a good fit with either of those guys. The Knicks are projected to have about $35 million in cap space heading into the summer of 2010 and whatever deal they sign Lee to will cut into that. If they want to keep Lee and sign two big-name free agents, then they’re going to have to rid themselves of either Jared Jeffries or Eddy Curry prior to 2010. I like Lee, but he’s not a guy that you can give the ball to on the block and expect him to score, and that limits his value somewhat as a big man. The Thunder, Kings, Grizzlies, Raptors and Pistons could all make a serious run at Lee, though anytime a team tries to poach a restricted free agent, it’s a delicate balance between offering him enough to convince the other team to let him go, while getting a reasonable deal at the same time.
Value: $9.0 – $10.0 million per year.

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