Found December 01, 2011 on
Fox Sports Detroit:
AUBURN HILLS -- It took two extra months, but the sounds of the NBA have finally returned.
With the lockout settled, teams were allowed to open their practice facilities to players on Thursday morning, and two Pistons took advantage. Ben Wallace arrived late in the morning, and Charlie Villanueva showed up about 90 minutes later.
"I didn't know who was going to be here, but as soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I saw Ben's Maybach," Villanueva said. "That wasn't a surprise. No one works as hard as Ben. This is his life."
Wallace, who has spent much of the extended offseason dealing with a drunk-driving arrest that also included weapons charges, did not speak to the media, but Villanueva was happy to talk.
"It's just great to be back," he said. "The lockout is done, and I'm putting it behind me. I can't speak for the rest of the guys, but I'm not even thinking about any of that. I just want to play ball again."
Villanueva said that he has talked to many of his teammates and thinks several will be working out at the Palace by the beginning of next week. But he also knows that the roster is a long way from settled.
Tracy McGrady, Chris Wilcox and Tayshaun Price are all unrestricted free agents; Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko and DaJuan Summers are restricted. Of the six, only Jerebko appears to be a lock to return. Summers is expected to spend the season playing overseas.
Even Villanueva will miss the first several games of the season while serving the suspension for his crazed attempts to break into the Cleveland locker room at the end of last season.
"There's a lot of things that need to be settled," Villanueva said. "There's a new coach, but we've only got about half of a roster right now. With everything shortened up, it is going to be crazy here for the next few weeks."
Villanueva said he doesn't know Lawrence Frank very well -- Frank and Joe Dumars aren't allowed to interact with the players until the new CBA is ratified by the owners and union -- but Villanueva likes what Frank did with the Nets.
Villanueva was also happy with the inspirational slogans that now take up much of the wall space at the practice facility.
"They add a lot of color to the place, and it seems a lot brighter," he said. "I really like this already.
"It's going to be good."
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