Back in February, Ben Wallace made it very clear: this was going to be his last season and he'd officially retire at the end of the year. In fact he told ESPN, "No consideration to coming back, this is definitely my last year."
However, that was then and this is now. Since February, the retirement waters have become increasingly murky for Wallace and everyone trying to predict his decision.
Various media outlets report he's staying, while others report he's coming back. Teammates like Tayshaun Prince even say he's on the fence about it (cbssports.com).
Some fans might hold out hope that he sticks to his guns and calls it quits. His skills have eroded, and he's not the defensive force he once was.
He's a Pistons legend—arguably the most popular player in team history—and no one wants to see him stay around too long and tarnish everyone's memory of him, as Michael Jordan did during his stint with the Washington Wizards.
It's possible for Wallace to play another year and not sully his legend, though. Here's how.
The Pistons needed Wallace last season on the floor. Why? Because they didn't have any depth at power forward or center.
Is Ben Wallace worthy of a roster spot in 2012?
The 16-year veteran played in nearly every game and averaged 15 minutes per. At 37 years old, and considering who he was matched up against every night, anyone would be considering retirement after that.
This year won't be the same, though. If he returns, he won't log those types of minutes. In fact, most nights he might not play at all. With the additions of Andre Drummond and Vyacheslav Kravtsov, and with Jason Maxiell staying put for another season and Charlie Villanueva healthy again, minutes might be hard to come by.
If needed, Wallace could certainly step in and provide quality minutes, but it's not likely.
His real value would be his day-to-day interactions with Drummond and Kravtsov. The Pistons desperately needed to add size to their frontcourt, and they've done that. However, both players are young, raw and are considered to be developmental projects.
What better player to have around than Wallace to show these youngsters how a professional big man is supposed to play? And not only how to play, but how to prepare for games.
Wallace's work ethic has always been amazing, and it's the reason why he's been so successful despite being undersized. He simply works harder than his opposition.
Ideally, Wallace would be able to mentor Drummond in particular. With the concerns about his drive, combined with his young age, he would certainly benefit from any lessons Wallace might bestow upon him.
Let's face it, if there's anyone capable of instilling a killer instinct in Drummond, it's Wallace.
The mind of an 18-year-old is still very impressionable, and the Pistons need to make sure he's surrounded by good characters who set good examples. Monroe is a good start, but Wallace is even better.
He's got the experience and he's got the style of play that the Pistons want Drummond to develop.
"Dumars said he and Wallace talk 'every other day.' Is there a roster spot reserved? 'Every other day,' Dumars repeated. 'We talk every other day.' "
Apparently Dumars likes to speak in riddles, but that should be expected. He's not going to give anything away and in all reality, he probably doesn't even know yet. The Pistons' plans will be known soon enough.
For Drummond's sake, fans should hope those plans include a roster spot for Wallace for one more year.