Free agent roundup: Look for price of big men to rise

Updated: April 7, 2006, 3:03 PM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPN Insider
When summertime comes and the Detroit Pistons and Ben Wallace sit down to discuss a new contract, Big Ben won't have his longtime agent working on his behalf.

Wallace fired the agent, Steve Kaufman, a few months ago and plans to replace him with an attorney who will bill him on an hourly basis.

If he wants a trade kicker in his deal, Wallace had better hope his new attorney knows how to get one. If he wants bonus payments for making the All-Star team, winning the NBA championship or being named Defensive Player of the Year, that new lawyer had better be proficient in the collective bargaining agreement language pertaining to bonuses he is likely or unlikely to earn.

Normally, an agent would take care of those types of details -- as well as playing the Pistons off any other potential suitors.

But the fact that Wallace will be going the cheap route in the biggest negotiation of his career is the surest sign of all that he's dead set on staying with the Pistons when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.

"The last thing I need at this point in my career is someone taking 4 percent of my next contract," Wallace told ESPN.com last week, raising his eyebrows but declining to comment when it was pointed out that the Chicago Bulls might be in the market for his services if they truly believed he was available.

Instead, the Bulls will almost certainly look elsewhere to fill their big man needs when they enter this summer as the No. 1 player on the free agency market. Depending on the size of the salary cap, the Bulls should have some $15 million to $20 million to play with. One problem, however, is how the caliber of available centers drops off after Wallace.

And with the Toronto Raptors also seeking some size on the open market (they are one of only a few teams -- Chicago and Charlotte among them -- with significant cap room), the price of big men might inflate.

That is why Nazr Mohammed and Joel Przybilla are getting ranked higher than other players with more talent as ESPN.com breaks down the free agent class of 2006 into an updated Top 25.

(All free agents are unrestricted unless otherwise noted. Restricted free agents are subject to having offers matched by their current teams.)

The Top 25:

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