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.

Lonzo Ball finishes one-handed alley-oop on Willie Cauley-Stein (video)

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So much attention is paid to Lonzo Ball‘s father, jumper and passes. Those are the major storylines for the Lakers rookie.

But he has such a diverse skill set, and this is absolutely part of it. Ball is a savvy off-ball cutter in the halfcourt with the athleticism to get above the rim and finish alley-oops.

But finish them over 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who was tracking the play (though slightly late)? That’s an eye-opener, even in the Kings’ 113-102 win.

Marc Gasol makes 3/4-court shot just after buzzer (video)

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When Marc Gasol‘s 3/4-court attempt went through the net, it seemed to barely matter the ball left his hands just after the first-quarter buzzer. After all, the Grizzlies led the Mavericks by 15, anyway.

Turns out, Memphis really needed that basket.

Watch Knicks string together 28-0 run against Raptors

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Toronto has been the second best team in the East this young season. Not that anyone is really convinced they will be called that by the time we get to the playoffs (or even the All-Star break, or even Christmas), but for the first 16-18 games of the season their new move-the-ball offense had them at 11-5 and looking solid.

Wednesday night the Knicks dismantled the Raptors.

Especially in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 28-0 run to blow the doors off the Raptors (video above). The Knicks dominated the third 41-10, when Toronto shot just 1-of-16 from the floor.

New York is gaining confidence with each win this season, they are a fun team to watch that is starting to find an identity (now that a certain three-sided shaped one is not being forced upon them). Kristaps Porzingis is a monster, and while the Knicks overpaid the market for Tim Hardaway Jr. he has lived up to his contract this season. With rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina showing some nice defense and playmaking skills as a rookie (although he is undoubtedly still a work in progress), you can see a path to a strong future unfolding. There are real reasons for hope in New York. Someone just keep James Dolan distracted and away from the basketball operations side of the building.

Devin Booker forces OT with deep turnaround buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Bucks beat Suns (video)

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I’m not sure who benefited from Devin Booker‘s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing 3-pointer. The Suns still lost to the Bucks, 113-107. The extra five minutes featured more of the same relatively bad basketball we’d seen between Phoenix (bad) and Milwaukee (shorthanded) through 48 minutes.

But darn if this shot wasn’t really cool and clutch.