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.