Detroit Pistons v Los Angeles Clippers

Reports: Pistons signing Caron Butler, D.J. Augustin

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The Pistons shot 32.1 percent on 3-pointers last season, finishing 29th in the league.

Considering they bested only the 76ers, the Pistons practically finished last among legitimate NBA teams.

New Detroit president/coach Stan Van Gundy values outside shooting, and he keeps upgrading in free agency. His top signings – including the two most-recent additions – shot very very well from beyond the arc last season:

  • Jodie Meeks: 40.1 percent
  • Cartier Martin: 39.1 percent
  • Caron Butler: 39.4 percent
  • D.J. Augustin: 40. 1 percent

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Caron Butler has agreed to sign a deal with the Detroit Pistons, according to a source.

The source told ESPN.com that the deal is for two years in the range of $10 million

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Free-agent guard D.J. Augustin has reached agreement on a two-year, $6 million contract with the Detroit Pistons, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Butler’s overall game has deteriorated, but his 3-point shooting has come on strong in recent years. At 34, he likely must accept that spot-up role. Paying $10 million over two years for that seems costly, but the second year is a team option, according to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News. (I’d guess it’s actually unguaranteed, but either way, the Pistons aren’t committed.)

Augustin, who averaged 14.9 points and 5.0 assists per game with the Bulls, finished second among reserves in win shares last season. He really showed an ability to inject life into a stagnant offense.

With Josh Smith likely moving primarily back to power forward after a disastrous season at small forward and Brandon Jennings the incumbent point guard, Butler and Augustin each have a chance to start. That speaks both to their abilities and Detroit’s roster.

The Pistons now have nine players with guaranteed contracts, two with unguaranteed contracts, five incoming free agents, an unsigned second-round pick and the right to match any offer for restricted free agent Greg Monroe. Even waiving the two players with unguaranteed contracts, Peyton Siva* and Josh Harrellson, still puts the Pistons on track for 16 players – if Monroe returns.

*Siva’s contract was set to become guaranteed Sunday, according to ShamSports.com, and there has been no word on the Pistons waiving him. However it’s possible the Pistons and Siva agreed to postpone the guarantee date.

You don’t let a player of Monroe’s caliber leave just to sign these players or Aaron Gray, Detroit’s other offseason signing. The Pistons might have a trade in the works, or they could eat the guarantee salary of Tony Mitchell or Will Bynum. It’s even possible they could waive both, opening the door for one more outside signing.

Most likely, though, handling Monroe is the Pistons’ last remaining free-agent move now.

LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers passes while under pressure from Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Tyronn Lue said Cavaliers-Warriors could eventually match Celtics-Lakers as a rivalry.

First, if you ask LeBron James, Cleveland-Golden State would have to become a rivalry at all.

LeBron, via Joe Vardon Cleveland.com:

“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”

“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”

Of course, Cavaliers-Warriors is a rivalry. These teams have met in the last two NBA Finals, played each other with relentless intensity, talked plenty of trash and remained elite.

LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.

Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)

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Andre Drummond is really good at these deep heaves.

His 3-point percentage (44%) is even better than his free-throw percentage (38%) the last two years, though that says too much about his work from the line.

Drummond wasn’t the only Pistons player converting to end quarters. Ish Smith and Tobias Harris also stepped up in the Pistons’ 102-97 win over the Lakers:

NBA: Suns got away with offensive foul before key points in win over Spurs

Phoenix Suns Devin Booker acknowledges a foul as San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker lies crumpled on the floor, in the second half of their regular-season NBA basketball game in Mexico City, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
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Devin Booker scored 39 points in the Suns’ 108-105 win over the Spurs on Saturday in Mexico City.

But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:

Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.

That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.

The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.

Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to  the league:

Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.

But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.

Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.

Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)

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Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.

The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.

It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.