Charlie Villanueva

Pistons won’t amnesty Charlie Villanueva

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The Pistons already made their big move – signing Josh Smith – and their small moves (signing Chauncey Billups and Luigi Datome and re-signing Will Bynum). They might still have a little cap room left to make another small signing, but they’re already over the roster limit including their draft picks, so adding the caliber of player likely available with so little money probably won’t get them anywhere.

Of course, they could pursue one of the better free agents available – Jeff Teague? – if they amnestied Charlie Villanueva and the one year and $8.58 million left on his contract. But the Pistons won’t amnesty Villanueva, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com.*

The news will probably disappoint Pistons fans, who’ve watched their team fall from atop the Eastern Conference to completely out of the playoffs in Villanueva’s four Detroit seasons. That’s not all Villanueva’s fault, but his lackluster defense and rebounding – when he’s even able to get on the court – don’t have anyone wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The Pistons might have declined to use the amnesty to save owner Tom Gores money, because if they’d amnestied Villanueva and signed a replacement, Gores would have to pay two players to fill one roster spot.

But it’s also possible the Pistons want Villanueva’s contract to use in a trade, where it could allow them to accept up to $12.97 million in return. If Villanueva isn’t amnestied, the Pistons could take back only the amount of money they’re under the cap plus $100,000 – surely a lower figure.

So, though Pistons fans might be unhappy today, they’ll surely change their tune if Villanueva’s contract helps them land Rudy Gay or Rajon Rondo. More likely, Villanueva will spend most of the season on Detroit’s bench, look good in one small stretch of the year and then ride off into the sunset free agency next summer.

*Aldridge also added the Pistons are wary of falling below the team salary floor ($52,811,000), but he later correctly clarified that any amount the Pistons pay Villanueva next season, even if Villanueva is amnestied, would still count toward the floor.

Watch all 25 threes from Cleveland in Game 2 win

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Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.

Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.

In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.

Cavaliers threes shotchart

Report: Rockets to interview Mike D’Antoni, Frank Vogel for coaching vacancy

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers gestures during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on February 28, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 126-122.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.

The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.

Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.

Cavs set single-game three-point record in blowout win over Hawks

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On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.

Nope.

The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.

The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.

18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:

That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.

LeBron James whips one-handed pass, leads to open Kevin Love three (VIDEO)

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 2: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers fights for a loose ball against Al Horford #15 and Kyle Korver #26 of the Atlanta Hawks during the second half of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena on May 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Hawks 104-93. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:

The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.