Charlie Villanueva

Maurice Cheeks intimates Charlie Villanueva is out of shape

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Charlie Villanueva’s last good season came in 2008-09.

He’s due for another.

Villanueva hasn’t come close to the 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game he averaged five years ago, but the upcoming season brings a potentially key similarity to 2008-09: it’s a contract year.

After his breakout season with the Bucks, Villanueva got a five-year, $37.7 million contract from the Pistons and has continuously disappointed since. Pistons fans hoped a contract year would at least motivate Villanueva into one quality season in Detroit, potentially even making him trade bait.

That plan is off to a poor start.

David Mayo of MLive:

Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks speculated that Charlie Villanueva’s 0-of-8 shooting on 3-pointers in two preseason games is the product of training-camp legs. “If you’re a shooter, you’ve got to get yourself in that shape to be able to make those shots,” Cheeks said.

“If you’re a rebounder, you’re not rebounding, they find somebody to rebound. If you’re a shooter, you don’t shoot, they find somebody to shoot,” he said.

Villanueva shot 2-for-4 on 3-pointers in Detroit’s third preseason game, but that still leaves him a woeful 2-for-12. We’re dealing with a small sample size, obviously in individual games, but also in the entirety of the preseason. Assuming Cheeks is basing his evaluation on more than just Villanueva’s in-game 3-point shooting stats, though, this becomes much more meaningful.

With bad shooter Josh Smith and non-shooters Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond comprising the starting front line, the Pistons could use a stretch four in their rotation, so Villanueva has an opportunity. But Jonas Jerebko is also vying for that same backup spot. He doesn’t have the shooting ability of Villanueva, but Jerebko can be a better defender and rebounder, and he’s also at least a passable perimeter shooter when being selective.

Villanueva still has time to work his way into shape, and many players use the preseason precisely for that purpose. But the Pistons have to be disappointed Villanueva – the man John Calipari once called too fat for the Dominican national team – isn’t better positioned to prove himself in a contract year.

Then again, maybe Joe Dumars is just better off without the temptation to re-sign Villanueva.

Report: Newly-acquired Pelicans F Omri Casspi breaks thumb, out 4-6 weeks

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 18:  Omri Casspi #18of the Sacramento Kings against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on November 18, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  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 Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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This has got to put a damper on the whole DeMarcus Cousins trade thing for New Orleans Pelicans fans. According to multiple reports, Omri Casspi — who was part of the trade that sent Cousins to Louisiana — has broken his thumb. The sharp-shooting forward will be out 4-6 weeks.

It’s disappointing news for the Pelicans, who could certainly use Casspi’s 3-point shooting ability. Casspi is shooting 38 percent from deep this season, and while the Pelicans make enough threes per-game they are near the bottom-third in percentage.

Casspi would have been a real help for Alvin Gentry’s offense, but for now it appears they’ll have to make do without him. Casspi should continue to occupy a roster spot for New Orleans, given his expiring contract and the fact that even if the Pelicans make a run for the playoffs they won’t be in a situation to add to their lineup since they won’t expect to get very far.

The good news out of New Orleans on Thursday night? Despite a loss to the Houston Rockets, Cousins nearly dropped a 5 x 5.

The race for the No. 8 seed is on.

LeBron James stops dunk, stuffs Courtney Lee at the rim (VIDEO)

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New York Knicks guard Courtney Lee should have known better than to try to dunk this. Everyone in the arena knew better than to try this on LeBron James.

Then again, if players stop trying to do things like this, we won’t get videos of incredible chasedown blocks by Mr. James.

It’s a real catch-22.

Actually, you know what? Keep it up. Keep trying this on LeBron. I want to keep watching dudes get rejected.

Draymond Green scrambles for ball, kicks at Blake Griffin (VIDEO)

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I’m getting tired of writing this story.

Or this one.

Or this one.

Draymond Green — an excellent basketball player who has an unstoppable, basal need to kick everyone near him — has once again let his feet do the talking.

Let’s take a look at the tape to see what sort of hijinks ol’ Dray has got himself into this time.

Via Twitter:

In the last nine months, Green has hit or kicked James Harden, Marquese Chriss, Kyrie Irving, Allen Crabbe, and Steven Adams (twice).

The league has decided not to act with any strength on most of the incidents, the most recognizable of which came when Green hit LeBron James in the NBA Finals, causing him to miss Game 5. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any consequences for Green, which is the exact reason why we keep seeing him kick dudes.

It’s wack, I’m tired of seeing it, and you should be too. See you all here the next time Green kicks at somebody. I’m sure it won’t be before too long.

Watch DeMarcus Cousins swat James Harden in his first game with the Pelicans

DeMarcus Cousins answers questions from the media as the New Orleans Pelicans announce that they've acquired him along with forward Omri Casspi during a news conference on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 in Metairie, La.  Cousins maintained  that he liked Sacramento and initially wasn't happy about being traded Sunday night, but added he'd become frustrated with the lack of another elite talent on the Kings' roster.  (Ted Jackson /NOLA.com The Times-Picayune via AP)
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DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and the New Orleans Pelicans will take some time to mesh together. In his first game with New Orleans, Cousins saw a difficult opponent and massive deficits against the Houston Rockets. But there was some glimmers of hope.

Cousins, for example, had a productive statistical evening. The former Sacramento King put up 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, and 4 blocks — just one swat shy of the rare 5 x 5.

Plus, he had this sweet block on Rockets star James Harden:

The Pelicans lost to the Rockets, 129-99, but it’s going to be fun to watch New Orleans battle it out for the 8th seed in the West.