For the first month of the season, Charlie Villanueva might as well have been a ghost. You saw only fleeting glimpses of him in a Pistons uniform, seemingly out of the corner of your eye. Up to Nov. 23, Villanueva had only set foot on the court three times, for a total of 20 minutes.
But Monday night, he played 22 minutes and had eight points and five boards off the bench. He’s become an important, solid and efficient part of the Pistons bench, shooting 40 percent from three and getting rebounds. He still has a solid midrange game. He has combined that to earn a PER of 16.3.
Coach Lawrence Frank has come around on Villanueva, reports the Detroit News.
“He has a high basketball IQ and I want to make sure he fully takes advantage of that,” coach Lawrence Frank said.
Villanueva talks about just trying to make the game easier for guys like Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey.
“When I’m on the floor, I spread the floor and make stuff easier for other guys,” Villanueva said. “They can’t pack the paint with me out there.”
Detroit almost used its amnesty clause on Villanueva last summer, because they owe him $8 million this season and next. And while that’s pricy (and they would love to trade him) now they are getting something from him (after last season when he was out of shape and injured). His rebounding is average as is his shooting, but he is consistent and on these Pistons solid and consistent play is welcomed as an upgrade.
He’s going to continue to get minutes, and while he’s not ready for your fantasy team he’s a welcome addition to the Pistons rotation now.
North Carolina hasn’t had a one-and-done player in eight years.
Since Brandan Wright declared for the 2008 NBA draft after his freshman year, the Tar Heels have emphasized player development over multiple years. That practice has yielded two national titles, including this year’s, in that span.
It also limited freshman center Tony Bradley’s playing time this season, as he was stuck behind seniors Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks.
But Bradley shined enough in 15 minutes per game to follow Wright as one-and-done from Chapel Hill.
Jeff Goodman of ESPN:
Bradley is a borderline first-round pick, though this late decision when many expected him to return to school indicates he believes he’ll go in the first round. There’s certainly logic in turning pro before scouts pick apart his game over a larger sample.
Bradley is huge – 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan – but he’s not explosive. The hope is someone in the Rudy Gobert mold.
Whomever drafts Bradley will hope his elite offensive rebounding is a harbinger. But why is his defensive rebounding and rim protection so forgettable?
He moves and passes fairly well for his size, but considering he’s so big, those aren’t necessarily skills for him to hang his hat on. If a teammate sets him up, he uses his size to finish well at the rim.
Beyond his size and offensive rebounding, Bradley doesn’t set himself apart one way or the other. Whether that’s good or bad depends how deep in the draft it is.
Option A: Keep the pick, draft Markelle Fultz No. 1, go hard at Gordon Hayward this summer in free agency and if you strike out with him go hard at other guys, maybe in the 2018 class.
Option B: Trade the No. 1 pick for a package that includes Jimmy Butler (or, less likely, Paul George) and put together a roster to make a hard run at the Cavaliers next year.
Those aren’t the only two options on the table, but they represent the two paths the Boston Celtics can go down this off-season after landing the No. 1 pick in the draft. I delve into it more in this PBT Extra.
Expect them to go with option A — the chance to draft a potentially elite player, and have him under contract for years on an affordable rookie deal, is too smart a long-term move to pass up.
The Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond is on his way to Orlando, joining a new front office trying to turn the Magic — and their culture — around.
That means the Bucks need a new GM, and it was assumed long-time assistant GM Justin Zanik would step into the role. However, he may not be the long-term answer, according to a couple of reports.
Zanik will have the job in the short term, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Marc Stein of ESPN broke the news on the broader search.
The Milwaukee Bucks have decided to commission a broad search for a new general manager, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN on Wednesday that Bucks consultant and longtime NBA executive Rod Thorn will lead the search on behalf of Milwaukee ownership, which is hopeful of attracting strong candidates given the Bucks’ on-the-rise status….
Current Bucks assistant general manager Justin Zanik will interview for the GM post and be given strong consideration to succeed Hammond, sources said.
Doing a broad search makes sense, the Bucks should explore their options even if they think the best one is the guy already doing the job. More information is a good thing.
The real question in Milwaukee is how much say Jason Kidd has over the roster — is he a de facto GM? There have been rumors of that for a while, and that it led to friction in the organization. How will whoever comes in handle that dynamic with the head coach?
The Bucks are a team on the rise in the East, they have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker and Kris Middleton, it’s a team that needs to add the right pieces around them and develop into an elite team in the conference over the next couple of seasons. It will take a deft hand at GM to do that. Zanik strikes me as a guy who can do that, but the Bucks want to cover their options.
The Atlanta Hawks brought in some big names — Chauncey Billups most recently, they thought about Brent Barry, they took a swing at Portland GM Neil Olshey — but in the end, they went with the guy who has paid his dues, comes from a great team culture, and someone who deserves a shot. In short, they made the right play.
The Hawks are in talks to hire Golden State assistant GM Travis Schlenk to take over the big chair in Atlanta, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
The Atlanta Hawks are working on a contract agreement to hire Golden State Warriors executive Travis Schlenk as general manager, league sources told The Vertical. Barring any unforeseen snags, a deal could be completed as soon as Wednesday, league sources told The Vertical….
Schlenk has spent 12 years in the Warriors’ front office, including the past five as assistant GM under Bob Myers.
The position was available because Mike Budenholzer has stepped away from the coach and GM role with the team over a disagreement about direction. Now that direction question falls on Schlenk’s shoulders: Paul Millsap is a free agent this summer, should the Hawks re-sign him to a max deal and likely be a 4-6 seed for the foreseeable future, a good but not great team, or start the rebuild now? What to do about Dwight Howard and the two-years, $47.3 million he is owed? How much do they want to pay Tim Hardaway Jr., he is a restricted free agent?
Schlenk is a quality hire, a guy respected around the league who should make well thought out decisions. But he walks right into a room of tough decisions.