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.

Watch Kawhi Leonard dunk all over Giannis Antetokounmpo

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Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors took Game 4 against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, 120-102.

Things started off okay for Milwaukee but started to peter off as the hometown Toronto crowd got behind their Raptors. The bench continued to show up for Leonard’s squad, and it was Kyle Lowry dueling it out with Antetokounmpo in the first quarter.

Leonard scored 19 points to go with seven rebounds and four steals, and perhaps his most impressive play of the night came early in the third quarter. Running a little two-man game with Marc Gasol, Leonard cut to the basket and wound up dunking all over the Milwaukee star.

Via Twitter:

Leonard appeared to hobble a little bit after his dunk, but he should be ready to go for Game 5 on a Thursday night. Meanwhile, the series heads back to Wisconsin all tied up at 2-2.

The victor of this series will get to take on the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals.

Andre Iguodala says Stephen Curry is the second-best PG ever

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The Golden State Warriors are moving on to the NBA Finals yet again, thanks in large part to the efforts of Stephen Curry. Golden State’s point guard is now heading to his fifth-straight finals, and without Kevin Durant he was a big reason why the Warriors were able to beat the Portland Trail Blazers in just four games.

Of course there is a real worry that Durant won’t be able to play in the NBA Finals, either partially or fully, thanks to a calf injury. If that’s the case, and the Warriors can take home another championship trophy, it could mean great things for Curry’s legacy.

Curry is currently chasing Magic Johnson as the best point guard ever in the eyes of many folks. What might help solidify Curry’s place in history would be an NBA Finals MVP, which he would likely wind up with if Durant is unable to impact the Finals the way he has.

At least for Andre Iguodala, Curry is already the second best point guard of all-time.

Via The Athletic:

“I think he’s the second best ever,” Iguodala said. “I always thought that about him. I knew but other people didn’t know. So I wasn’t surprised when he took over that series. But I always gave Tony Allen credit. Playing against him made you understand the grind of how hard it is to win. It’s supposed to be hard. You’re supposed to have to find another way. It’s supposed to be uncomfortable. He just embraced that. Just ingrained that into his system and it’s been there ever since.”

The real question is what Curry’s legacy will be after these Finals, particularly if they win without Durant. Some people aren’t keen to compare eras, and might never move off of Johnson for that spot. It seems reasonable to say that Curry is already the best shooter of all-time, but June could elevate him even further.

Raptors’ halfcourt defense, big games from Gasol, Lowry evens series with Bucks

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Slow your roll on “these Bucks can challenge Warriors” takes…

They are going to have to get out of the East, first. And that is proving to be more difficult than it looked after two games.

Back home in Toronto, the Raptors slowed the game’s pace down and used an impressive halfcourt defense — the Bucks scored less than a point per possession — to control this game. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Khris Middleton had 30 points, but outside those two the Bucks shot 35.4 percent and had just 13 fast break points. It all kept the Bucks offense relatively in check.

Relatively is good enough when everyone is hitting their shots.

Kawhi Leonard had a quiet 19 points, although he did have the dunk of the playoffs all over Antetokounmpo.

Leonard didn’t have to carry the team because everyone in white seemed to be knocking down their shots. Kyle Lowry had 25 points on 11 shots, Marc Gasol had 17 (and his aggressive offense the last two games has stressed the Bucks defense), Nick Powell had 18, Serge Ibaka 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Fred VanVleet had 13 points on six shots. The Raptors bench scored 48 points.

All that led to a 120-102 Raptors win that wasn’t even that close.

The series is now tied 2-2 and heads back to Milwaukee where the best-of-three left starts.

The Raptors continue to defend well in the halfcourt, with the Bucks coring less than a point per possession (0.93) this game. In three of the four games, the Bucks have scored less than a point per possession in the halfcourt, but that only really matters if they can keep Milwaukee out of transition. The Raptors did that at home.

Milwaukee and Mike Budenholzer have leaned on Nikola Mirotic more in recent games, and the Raptors are now attacking him when they have the ball.

Combine that with an aggressive Gasol — he has started taking the shots from three that he hesitated on in the first two games — and his 3-of-6 from deep has become a big problem for Toronto.

Toronto had this in hand much of the second half, so much so that Drake was helping Nick Nurse relax on the sidelines.

The Bucks will also need their other players — Eric Bledsoe, who had 5 points on 7 shots, and Brook Lopez, who had 8 points — to step up in the final games.

The Raptors have found a formula that works, it’s on the Bucks now to adjust.

Kyle Korver says the copier Nets bought with cash from his trade is broken

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Kyle Korver was taken by the New Jersey Nets with the 51st pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. He was traded on draft day by the Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers for cash considerations. The Nets famously — or infamously — used the cash from that trade to purchase an office copier.

More than a decade and a half later, Korver is still playing in the NBA at age 38. And now, thanks to Korver giving the commencement speech at his alma mater Creighton, we have an update on the status of that copier.

Via Twitter:

Kyle Korver does not have a depreciation expense method. He is timeless.