The news broke recently that the Pistons have agreed in principle with Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon for 5-year deals. These deals either directly or inadvertently impact the rest of the teams in the Association.
The first thought that comes to mind is “what”? Obviously, the Pistons needed to make a splash this season after a severely disappointing season in 2008-09 when they were swept out of the first round of the playoffs. Joe Dumars needed to recover after trading away Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson. The signing of Villanueva is a solid move for Detroit. With the likely departure of Rasheed Wallace, the Pistons need someone to try to fill the void at power forward. In reality, Villanueva is not anywhere near Rasheed in terms of talent, but he can post a solid 12 PPG and 8 RPG for the Pistons.
However, the Gordon move raises some questions. Not that Gordon is absent of sufficient talent. He is very capable of averaging 20 PPG coming off of the bench and providing instant offense. However, he stands at 5’11” and plays the SG position. Even with his offensive abilities, he is still a liability on defense. The Pistons already employ a couple of SG’s with Richard Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey. The Pistons don’t have a true point guard to run their show which fuels the fire that the Pistons are looking to move Hamilton and free some cap space. First things first, Detroit needs to find a head coach to lead this new team to the playoffs.
The signings change the rest of the free agent landscape for the Association. The Bulls were determined to resign Gordon as he played an integral part in the Bulls’ success against the Celtics in the playoffs. The Cavaliers had a very public interest in Villanueva after the Bucks refused to sign an offer sheet for the forward. Now the Pistons are looking to shed some unwanted contracts to make another move this off-season.
Teams with an interest in these players are now free to pursue other options this free agent period. According to various reports, the Cavs are now pursuing Trevor Ariza and Ron Artest to be another piece to the puzzle. The Lakers must now choose between Ariza or Lamar Odom to stay with Kobe and try to repeat as champions. The Pistons are still looking to resign Antonio McDyess. Another Pistons player, Rasheed Wallace, is garnering interest from the Spurs and Celtics who are looking to revamp in order to compete next year. Hedo Turkoglu is being courted by Portland and Toronto, teams on the rise with young stars already in place.
More than a few teams are heavily pursuing Jason Kidd, surprisingly, for large quantities of money. The Knicks and Mavericks are currently pursuing Kidd most feverishly, with the Lakers and Cavs also playing a minor part in this play. There are even rumors of a Tyson Chandler trade with the Pistons and Suns being of most interest in the big man from New Orleans. The Hornets could use Hamilton’s ability to put the ball in the basket coming off of screens and catching the passes of Chris Paul. What about Leon Powe? The Celtics aren’t showing much interest in retaining the talented big man after he injured his knee in the playoffs. If they attain the services of Rasheed Wallace, they will have a stacked frontcourt with Garnett, Perkins, Wallace, and Davis. Powe will likely go to a team in desperate need of some presence in the paint.
The biggest moves of the off-season thus far have been the trades of Shaq and Vince Carter. Shaq to the Cavs has already been much discussed, to the point of over exhaustion on the part of commentators and Stuart Scott. The Carter trade changes the entire dynamic of the Magic. He can still drain the 3-pointer, but he has effectively pushed Hedo Turkoglu out of the door. The reason that the Magic advanced past the Cavs is because of their unique ability to create matchup problems with Turkoglu bringing up the ball and dumping it off to Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard. Now with Carter, the Orlando Magic have become extraordinarily normal. Carter can post over 20 points every game, but he doesn’t have the diversity that Turkoglu possessed for Orlando.