Ball Don't Lie - NBA

I'm sure you've heard the news by now: The once mighty Pistons have reached agreement with free-agent guard Ben Gordon(notes) and forward Charlie Villanueva(notes). (KD is not impressed.) Here's what they're saying out in the ether about Joe Dumars' quick signings ...

Straight Bangin': "Really, Joe? Really? You just committed your cap space to Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva? You turned Rasheed's expiring contract and Chauncey Billups(notes) into an embarrassing first-round flameout, a streaky and undersized sixth-man, and a mercurial forward who gets hurt fairly often? You took a team that as recently as two years ago was a decent rebounder and another guard away from the Finals and turned it into one that probably can't hope to be any better than seventh in the East? Your second-highest-paid player plays the same position as your highest? The same highest-paid guy who shouldn't have such an onerous deal in the first place? [...] Sorry to say it, Joey, but you need to update your resume, because you played yourself worse than Jay on 'DOA.'"

Empty The Bench: "Something’s gotta give in Detroit, and that something is one of the last remaining pieces of Detroit’s 2004 NBA Championship team leaving town: Richard Hamilton(notes), who will soon be traded. I think. He has to be, right? Despite reports that GM Joe Dumars has stated he has no intentions of trading Hamilton, it doesn’t make much sense to have two All-Star caliber shooting guards capable of playing 34-36 minutes a night (and getting paid like it) at the same position. Both were their respective team’s leading scorers last season (Gordon 20.7 for Chicago, Hamilton 18.3 for Detroit), both revel in the role of being the go-to guy on the floor, both have a well-documented history of not happily accepting a sixth-man role off the bench. Though Gordon is a much higher-character guy than Allen Iverson(notes), the last thing Dumars and the Pistons need is another backcourt controversy: as you recall, it was first Hamilton, then Iverson, who publicly bemoaned their demotions to the bench in favor of the other. I can’t imagine that Gordon made the move to Detroit to be a backup, nor can I see Hamilton suddenly having a change of heart and stepping aside to make room for Gordon in the starting lineup. Something’s gotta give."

Detroit Bad Boys: "Villanueva’s arrival will come with mixed reviews, in part because of shaky defense and a reputation for being 'soft,' but objectively speaking, he’s a better shooter, passer and rebounder than Rasheed Wallace(notes), the man he’s essentially replacing. No, he’s not a complete package — Wallace was an exceptional defender, at least when he was up for the challenge — but for the price and potential for improvement, I have no quibbles with the move. He alone won’t put the Pistons over the top, but this roster is a couple of years away from worrying about the 'missing piece.'"

The Baseline: "Villanueva was a smart move, and while Gordon may hardly have filled an obvious need, he's not going to hurt the team, and Detroit can always use additional offense. Does this immediately make them contenders? No, but could you see any of the 2010 free agents stepping right in and stabilizing a team that, if you'd forgotten, just fired its coach to cap off a lost season? The Pistons haven't ever depended on a single superstar, anyway, which makes the 2010 model that much more unlikely. Instead, you can see Dumars hiring a coach who gets the Pistons culture, and will then indoctrinate Villanueva and Gordon. What's more, while these signings are in some ways a function of the Pistons organization, they also might be taken as an endorsement for teams looking to this summer for a more cost-effective future. If Dumars does it, you know other GMs are going to at least weigh the option."

David Aldridge, "Gordon's agent, Ray Brothers, said that 17 teams contacted him Wednesday about Gordon, but most were looking to sign Gordon to the mid-level exception or looking to do a sign-and-trade with Chicago. And after the last two summers of trying to negotiate deals with Chicago, Gordon was leery of yet more delay in trying to work something out down the road when Detroit came through so quickly with a tangible offer."

The Knicks Blog: "Truthfully, if my team had $19 million in cap space, I am not sure I’d be thrilled with these two deals. I think both got overpaid to a certain extent. Maybe not Gordon, but I do not see Villanueva as an $8 million dollar player in this market. He is a high volume shooter that is more of a chucker than a premier scoring threat. He does not shoot for a good percentage and he has never seen a shot that he didn’t like. Villanueva is a good perimeter defender and a good outside shooter, but he is not a great shot-blocker and is not a great rebounder. Not for his size."

Brew Hoop: "You could say this somehow validates the Bucks' decision to let CV walk.  After all, they'd understandably never throw that kind of coin at CV. However, if the Bucks had made their intention of re-signing CV clear and given him a QO it's unlikely he would have gotten nearly that much — RFAs just don't generate the same interest in the open market. Still, I think it's understandable, if a bit regrettable, that given the tax situation they let Villanueva walk. He'll probably put up good numbers next year, but I don't think anyone ever questioned his ability to put up stats. One thing's for sure: we wish Charlie the best of luck in Motown."

Larry Brown Sports: "Maybe it’s just because I’m not a Ben Gordon guy that I don’t like what Detroit’s doing, or maybe it’s because they spent $10 million a season on a sixth man who’s a gunner and not a ball-handler and doesn’t play much defense. Maybe it’s because I prefer Rip Hamilton and can’t envision them paying Gordon $10 mil per and telling him he’s coming off the bench meaning Rip’s probably gone. Now Villanueva’s a decent deal because he can score and board and he comes at a reasonable price as a Rasheed Wallace replacement. The thing I’m missing is the size issue. Where’s their inside presence? Don’t they need one? Maybe I should be patient to see what they add next year before I completely judge because this has to be a work in progress."

Motown String Music: "What's next for the Pistons? Will the opening night lineup be Kwame Brown(notes), Villanueva, Tayshaun Prince(notes), Ben Gordon, and Rodney Stuckey(notes) or does Dumars have something else up his sleeve that would move Tayshaun and/or find an upgrade over Kwame, possible in a deal involving Rip?"

Tremendous Upside Potential: "In basketball terms, Gordon's departure means John Salmons(notes) and Luol Deng(notes) need to step up. Last we saw them, Salmons was awesome, and Deng was bad and hurt. Is that what we can expect again? Salmons will be Gordon's replacement at shooting guard, and the Bulls better hope that last year wasn't an aberration. Make no mistake, Salmons had a career year last season. He set careers highs across the board at age 29, a point when most players begin to decline, not take off. His biggest jump was in three-point percentage. Without Gordon, the Bulls are going to need more shooters. Last year, Salmons was good enough to fill that roll, making 49 treys in 26 games as a Bull. He was efficient from long range too, connecting at a Gordon-like 41 percent. Again, was it a fluke, or is John Salmons for real? The Bulls better hope it's the latter."

Mouthpiece Blog: "... Mitch Robinson caught up with BG last night after the Pistons deal was announced: 'It was an easy decision. I went to visit and speaking with (Pistons GM) Joe Dumars I liked everything he had to say, I like everything the organization stands for … they’re all about winning and I want that too,' Gordon stated over the phone. 'Joe exudes that (winning) he eats, sleeps and breathes basketball and that’s an organization I need to be a part of.'"

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