AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -Rasheed Wallace and Flip Saunders insist they're getting along just fine.
``If we weren't, then it would be real hectic around here,'' Wallace said Monday at the Detroit Pistons' media day. ``We're a smooth-sailing ship. No one is trying to jump overboard. Everyone is in it for the long haul, and that's the main thing that makes people comfortable.''
Their relationship, or lack of one, seemed to be one of the factors that led to the Pistons' collapse last season.
``I don't think he did anything defiantly toward me,'' Saunders said. ``Are we going to have confrontations? Yes. 'Sheed is a very emotional and animated player, but I know if I challenge him he'll be fine the next day.'
Detroit won the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals only to lose four in a row to the Cleveland Cavaliers, whose home court was the site of Wallace's meltdown and ejection in the final game as he lost control going after an official.
``We didn't reach our ultimate goal last season, and that's always tough to swallow,'' Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said. ``I don't look for excuses or people to point out as the reason why we came up short. I simply say we didn't get it done and we have to do better.''
Antonio McDyess said better chemistry between Wallace and Saunders will be important this season.
``For this team, it's important for everyone to get along for us to have a successful season,'' McDyess said. ``It was pretty rough between 'Sheed and Flip at times last year, but I think they've squashed it.
``When things are not going right, everything comes out. Rasheed wanted to win so bad last year and he took things personal when things didn't go his way.''
Wallace, who turned 33 last month, looks and sounds like he's ready to prove he's an asset and not a problem.
He has lost about 20 pounds, according to Saunders, and his teammates are impressed and encouraged by his commitment.
``I was surprised to see 'Sheed in here working out like he did this summer,'' McDyess said. ``He showed me he's really serious about winning this season.''
Detroit re-signed Chauncey Billups to a $60 million, five-year contract - with $46 million and four years guaranteed - to help its chances of at least advancing to the conference finals for the sixth straight year.
``My heart was in Detroit,'' Billups said. ``I want to end my career here.''

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