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Detroit’s UConn Signings Start Revolving Doors

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With a limit to what teams can and will spend, the first players to sign generally will get the most dollars.

The players know that and teams know the best players will go first, so offers are flying around fast and furious. It has been a dizzying first two days.

So far two UConn players kicked things off with the first commitments of the period:
1) Ben Gordon will sign with Detroit for $55 million over 5 years.
2) Charlie Villanueva will sign with Detroit for $35-40 million over 5 years.

Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Toronto and Portland all have money to spend on a big acquisition, though no one knows who will actually do that.

This comment by Sam Smith on Bulls.com wonders the same thing that many others are pondering, regarding the  Pistons recent decisions…

But NBA insiders were scratching their heads over the huge deals after the Pistons off loaded two much bigger talents, Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace, to make a splash in free agency.

While I agree in principle with that rationale, Detroit has to shake up this team and letting Rasheed go is part of that. Moving Billups for Iverson was a head shaker, but understandable for the freed up money now available.

Turning that money into Gordon and Villanueva is what has everyone wondering, as much as I like both players.

After a contentious two years with the Bulls, first turning down a lucrative Chicago offer, then agreeing to it but Detroit telling him it was off the table, Ben didn’t give Chicago a chance to counter offer this time and took the bird in the hand – Detroit.

It is great for both UConn stars. I’m glad to see Ben get what he was hoping for, money-wise. His playoff performance really opened my eyes. He is a better player offensively than I thought he was. He will take the big shot and a make number of them, often with a high degree of difficulty. He will play hurt yet still give opposing teams big troubles.

Sam Smith again…

But he made big shots at big times and never retreated from the moment, not a common quality in the NBA.

The most puzzling aspect of this particular signing has been addressed with it coming out that Ben is willing to come off the bench in Detroit.

Sam Smith….

Pistons insiders say the team now is regarding Gordon as a sixth man given the current roster.

And I read somewhere else that Ben says he is willing to come off the bench. I’ll see if I can find it.

Charlie Villanueva will be under some pressure to continue to grow into an impact player. Averaging a career high 16 points and 6.7 rebounds in just 27 minutes per game last season, after he was thrust into becoming a primary offensive option with Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut out with injury.

Charlie will turn just 25 in August. If he will pick things up defensively, he will be a truly valuable NBA asset for years to come. The problem is that, so far, he hasn’t really done that.

On the bright side for Detroit, Charlie will give them more offensively, and about the same rebounding as Rasheed did last season (12 pts./ 7.4 boards in 32 minutes). And think of all the technicals they will save.

So, the Pistons definitely get younger, though it doesn’t appear that they got much better at this point.

The Pistons will probably lose Antonio McDyess as well, leaving them short in the big man department with only Kwame Brown (bust), Jason Maxiell (6′ 7″), and perhaps Walter Hermann (shooter).

Gary Tanguay reported on WickedGoodSports that the Pistons are interested in Celtic restricted free agent Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis to help fill that deficit. It makes sense as Glen has had some productive games against the Pistons and still has a fair amount of unrealized potential. But he is not the answer in the middle.

The Pistons desparately need a defensive presence inside. Zydrunas Ilguaskas could fill that spot if he opts out (ETO)in Cleveland to take less money but adds the security of a few more years and to be a starter again. With Shaq in Cleveland, one of Z’s first reactions was, ‘I guess I’m coming off the bench now.’ or something to that effect. I’m just hypothesizing the possibility.

With Gordon and Will Bynum (both under six feet – no matter what the stat sheet says) coming off the bench, the Pistons will have an extremely short second unit back court. Potent offensively, but challenged defensively.

The Piston’s offense has always been guard oriented and that doesn’t change.

But I think everyone thought that Joe Dumars would do something more dynamic with his money than guarantee mediocrity for the next few years. It looks like he hit a double and a single, when he needed to go long ball or at least a rock a triple.

There is little doubt that Carlos Boozer staying with Utah messed up his original free agent plans. Maybe Gordon proves to be worth all that money. We will see. And maybe he and Rip Hamilton will get fellow Husky Charlie V. to elevate his game.

At any rate, Detroit needs a solid big man to patch up that hole in the middle. Maybe they can convince that other Z, Zaza Pachulia, to jump to Detroit. Marcin Gortat, Rasho Nesterovic, Anderson Verejeo, and Chris Anderson are all unsigned at this moment. All, except Rasho, will have other strong offers, though.

It will be interesting to see who gets this coaching job.

Thomas Halzack