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Myth: Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva were horrendous signings by the Detroit Pistons

Let’s flash back to June 30, 2009. It was a simpler time. Sarah Palin was still Alaska’s governor. “JK Wedding Entrance Dance” hadn’t been uploaded to YouTube. Nobody had punched Snookie in a bar (at least not while televised).

And the Pistons hadn’t signed Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

Those two have quickly become the poster children of the Pistons’ downfall. On the surface, it makes sense. They’re guaranteed a combined $95.7 million, and for that money, the early returns have been pretty poor.

But those are only the early returns.

Look, I’m not going to say those signings were great. They weren’t. But they certainly weren’t the brain-dead moves so many people make them out to be.

Those signings are viewed too negatively for three reasons:

  • People use the benefit of hindsight when assessing the initial idea of signing the pair.
  • People misunderstand the salary-cap realities of Detroit’s situation.
  • People assume Gordon and Villanueva won’t improve.

Class of the class

When the Pistons traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson early in the 2008-09 season, creating the cap space used to sign Gordon and Villanueva, the free agent class looked much different. Around that time, ESPN’s Chad Ford listed the top possible 2009 free agents. The list was divided by type of free agent, and for one reason or another, several key players didn’t have their rankings hold up:

Carlos Boozer (No. 2 among early termination or player option candidates)

Despite Ford saying “Boozer is probably the biggest threat to leave his team in the summer. The Pistons also could be a serious option for Boozer if Joe Dumars decides to use his money,” Boozer never opted out.

Mehmet Okur (No. 4 among early termination or player option candidates)

Ford said Okur was unlikely to opt out, but with a solid season, I think there was a reasonable chance he would. Okur didn’t have one, and he didn’t opt out.

Eddy Curry (No. 7 among early termination or player option candidates)

Curry went from scoring 13.2 points per game on 54.6-percent shooting to playing three games.

Shawn Marion (No. 1 among unrestricted free agents)

This is the season Marion’s decline began. His number fell across the board.

So, that’s four players who the Pistons could have had in mind when they traded Billups, but none of those four were possibilities when summer hit. And when you consider not many players on Ford’s list had breakout seasons, the free agent class was pretty disappointing.

In fact, Gordon and Villanueva were among the cream of the crop.

Two days before free agency began, Dave D’Alessandro of The Star-Ledger ranked the 2009 free agents by position. Gordon was the No. 2 shooting guard behind Kobe Bryant, who wasn’t leaving the Lakers. Villanueva was the top No. 2 power forward behind Carlos Boozer, who didn’t opt out.

For comparison’s sake, Andre Miller and Raymond Felton were the top two point guards. Allen Iverson, even after his disastrous season in Detroit, was the No. 3 shooting guard. Hedo Turkoglu and Shawn Marion were the top small forwards. Besides restricted free agents and Detroit’s own Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess, Brandon Bass was the top power forward. Anderson Varejao (before his transformation from flopper to stingy defender) was the top center.

As stated above, this ended up a pretty weak free agent class.

Just before free agency, Yahoo! Sport’s Johnny Ludden ranked the free agents. Gordon was No. 2, and Villanueva was No. 13.

Sports Illustrated’s Steve Aschburner had a similar view, ranking Gordon second and Villanueva 12th.

Ford wrote the Pistons had the league’s fourth-best offseason, saying of Joe Dumars:

He signed Ben Gordon, arguably the best free agent on the market, and quickly followed that up by signing Villanueva, probably the best free-agent power forward he could get with the money he had left. The combination of Gordon and Villanueva is an upgrade over Iverson and Rasheed Wallace.

That praise made sense at the time.

Gordon led the Bulls in win shares the previous two seasons. Stealing the best player of a division rival appeared to be addition by addition and subtraction by subtraction for an opponent.

Villanueva was also coming off what appeared to be a breakout season:

  • He scored more points per 36 minutes (21.7) than Chris Bosh, Zach Randolph and Amar’e Stoudemire.
  • He grabbed more rebounds per 36 minutes (8.9) than Udonis Haslem, Marc Gasol and Nene.
  • He posted a higher defensive rating (106) than Luc Mbah a Moute, Jason Kidd and Bruce Bowen.

Besides, who would you rather have had the Pistons sign? Hedo Turkoglu (five years, $52.8 million) or Shawn Marion (five years, $39,879,660)?

A common answer is David Lee, but he was a restricted free agent (not to mention, overrated, because his defense is poor and his numbers are inflated by Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced system). As Alessandro showed, not only was this free agent class lackluster at the top, it thinned quickly. The Pistons couldn’t afford to wait 10 days for the Knicks to match an offer to Lee.

That leads the next problem with criticizing the signings.

Cap situation

The Pistons couldn’t have simply waited for the Class of 2010 – or at least it didn’t seem that way at the time.

If the Pistons hadn’t signed Gordon and Villanueva (or Chris Wilcox), they would have had the following players under contract this summer:

If the Pistons went this route, they probably wouldn’t have picked up DaJuan Summers’ option, so he wasn’t included. Adding five roster charges for having fewer than 12 players ($1,894,416), the Pistons would have had $39,147,861 committed in salary.

That would have meant $18,896,139 to sign free agents, enough for a max contract for anyone under 10 years experience. But it’s not so simple.

Shortly after the Pistons signed Gordon and Villanueva, the NBA sent a memo to its teams saying the salary cap was estimated to between $50.4 million and $53.6 million. Unless the cap was set at the high end of that range, Detroit wouldn’t have been able to match the contract, say, Carlos Boozer received.

In the end, the salary cap was actually $4.5 million higher than the July estimated maximum. But it’s probably not fair to criticize the Pistons for not seeing that coming.

Room for improvement

I’ve covered this before, so I’ll be brief. 

Gordon missed 20 games last season, and when he returned he played hesitantly. Villanueva only missed four games, but he played most of the season with plantar fasciitis and back problems.

It wasn’t a fair season to judge those two, but so many have already done that.

Gordon is 27, and Villanueva is 26. They can still improve.

But that’s not even necessary for the signings to be looked at in a different light. What if Gordon could shoot 3-pointers and Villanueva could rebound? Well, before last season, both did those things well.

Let them get healthy, then judge.

Also, don’t just use hindsight to bash the signings.

Previous myths

34 Comments

  • Sep 16, 201011:18 am
    by Robert

    Reply

    Some call it using hindsight to judge. Others will probably call it using the facts. The only history is revionist history. That being said you are right about them both being young and more than likely having better years in 2010/11. It’s the second year with the team now, and I can easily imagine Ben Gordon shooting better from 3 and Villaneuva grabbing more boards.

    I’m a Hawks fan, so I would have also added a little something about how Ben Gordon for 4 years and roughly 50 million is a better value than 6 years and a bizzilion dollars that the Hawks gave JJ. It’s like knowing that you have a pretty solid team and knowing you have absolutely no chance for the next 6 years.

  • Sep 16, 201012:03 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    I agree completely that they were good signings at the time. Obviously most Piston fans are seeing them through the light of an underachieving, injury riddled season. I personally expect both of them to have improved numbers this season. I especially like what i have seen of Charlie V this offseason. He is going to have some big games for the Pistons. Whether he is going to be a consistent player – well, that has always been the big question mark on CV.
    The weakness in the signings is that both players were known for their poor defense. Which continued to play out last season with the Pistons. I personally feel that CV can become  a  very good rebounder and a servicable defender. I do not feel that way about Ben Gordon. He cannot stay in front of his man if he is guarding the opposing point guard. Laterally, he is just too slow. He does not get above screens. And if he is guarding the two – he is undersized and the opponent can either shoot over him at will, or post up.
    Personally, i think we should look to trade Ben Gordon. Given the signings this summer, his contract numbers look very reasonable and i’m sure Joe D could find a taker for a high volume scorer like Gordon
     

  • Sep 16, 201012:33 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    IMO, you’ve left out two critical components.
     
    First, neither player addressed an immediate roster deficiency. We had just re-upped Rip, we had Aaron Afflalo, and Stuck can play the 2. We had (and still don’t) have a viable plan at C. A stretch 4 and another SG arguably made the roster less balanced than it was prior to their signings. We’re currently paying absurd amounts of money to two SGs who will be very difficult to move, and we gave Afflalo away as a result. That’s just incredibly poor judgment, and Joe’s deserved every single bit of criticism he’s received for it.
     
    Second, There were options available that addressed immediate needs (and this isn’t hindsight bias; I wanted this dude badly last summer): David Lee. I will never be convinced that NY would have matched the deal that GS gave him this summer had we offered something similar last summer, especially had we front-loaded it. Lee is a beast, and while he’s not a brilliant post defender, he’s an excellent rebounder and a good shooter — and he just happens to play Center effectively.
     
    Lastly, I don’t think BG and CV will improve that much. Drastic improvements at their age aren’t impossible, but they’re uncommon. Ben Gordon is what he is — an very, very good jumpshooter who’s limited in terms of creating for teammates and defense (due to his size). Charlie V I’m more optimistic about, but even so, he’s still going to play as a stretch 4 (and therefore won’t ever be a good offensive rebounder), and while I’m expecting an improvement relative to team defense, he’ll never be a guy who can defend opposing PFs — whether stretch 4s or low post guys — effectively in big minutes.
     
    Until we find a new home for Rip and acquire a competent long-term Center, I’m going to continue to think that Ben Gordon and Charlie V were very poor signings — maybe not horrendous, but close.

  • Sep 16, 201012:35 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    * Mistake. We didn’t have a long-term plan at C and still don’t under my first point.

  • Sep 16, 20101:06 pm
    by bill

    Reply

    @brgulker – Who is your long term plan at C back when we got those two?

  • Sep 16, 20101:10 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    Bill, not sure what you mean … I mentioned David Lee, who although is probably more of a 4.5 than a pure 5, actually plays inside and rebounds well. To me, that’s a much better option than what we have now: Ben Wallace (whom I love but can’t defy age forever) and Greg Monroe, who’s much better suited for PF than C and will be forced to play out of position as a rookie.

  • Sep 16, 20101:13 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    Myth week is rivaling shark week here. These are great articles and good debates, especially when you can get the daughter of a Piston legend involved, which was great btw. Bravo.
     
    I wasn’t down for these signing from the get-go. They were always terribly inconsistent players who had their defensive short-comings. That wasn’t going to change. The Pistons just signed Rip to a big extension, which by itself isn’t terrible, but when coupled with the Gordon signing they both look like huge blunders. Take one or the other independently and not bad, but the combo is restrictive. That makes either the Rip extension or the Gordon signing a bad decision, since the Gordon signing came afterwards it makes it worse imo.
     
    Secondly, if the Pistons weren’t going to blow their cap space that summer, and they didn’t need every penny to do it, they would have retained Afflalo and Amir Johnson. Since win score was cited in the article I’ll compare. Afflalo ws/48 – .091 v. Gordon ws/48 – .059 AND Amir ws/48 – .150 v. Villanueva ws/48 – .092. The combination of Afflalo/Amir produced .241 wins per 48 while the Gordon/CV combo produced .151 wins per 48. According to this the Pistons would have won 8 more games last year if Afflalo and Amir had taken Gordon and CV’s minutes. On top of that they would have paid those players about $15 million less for 8 more wins, and not be stuck with long-term contracts.
     
    So the win score argument makes the signings look pretty ugly. The question is can they recover? Gordon posted a .152 ws/48 as a career high and CV a .112 ws/48 as a career high. If those two match their career high marks the combined win score is .264, just .023 wins/48 higher than what Afflalo and Amir combined for last season. And that was their career high marks!!! In other words they aren’t worth what they are making. Long way of getting to that point. They aren’t bad players, but they aren’t providing enough to be paid what they are, and because of the nature of an NBA cap that hurts the team.

  • Sep 16, 20101:18 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    nope. i was 100% in your corner with the darko thing, but you’re way off here.
     
    1) let’s not operate from the assumption that free agents are the only way to use cap space. we could have used the space to absorb contracts from other teams. i’ve never seen such a frenzy of cap-clearing maneuvers or so many quality players being shipped away for nothing but cap space. if the pistons had chosen this route they would have been in a uniquely advantageous position and probably had a wealth of options to improve the team. they could have been the runner-up finisher in the lebron sweepstakes by capitalizing on all the teams that would miss out.
     
    2) you say the pistons couldn’t afford to wait 10 days on david lee. i patently disagree with this assertion. i’d argue they could much less afford handing ben gordon a contract that extended merely a year beyond rip’s unmovable deal. i think new york would have had a hell of a decision on their hands, we probably land lee for a contract like gordon’s, and with or without the benefit of hindsight, we would have been spared these mediocre-at-best, crippling-at-worst signings. at the very least we would be left with my first option, absorbing contracts from the league-wide fire sale.
     
    3) nobody could have predicted charlie hustle would have been as bad as he was. in my worst nightmares i never imagined it. not in a million years. i’ve said this before: if the consistency of a coach knowing what he can expect from a player on any given night is the sign of a player’s quality (as i’ve heard argued before), charlie v was the worst player in the league last year. because what you could count on him for was laziness, bad decisions, defensive indifference, i could go on…
     
    that said, no matter how good gordon was objectively, you’ve got that rip contract hanging around your neck for the next four years. nobody could sensibly predict that the two of them could excel together or that (even prior to injury) rip had a reasonably movable contract. these two facts add up to gordon being a TERRIBLE signing. the rip extension was a MUCH worse individual move, but that was done. gordon was selected to play next to stuckey, and we may never end up seeing that vision become reality because rip’s around for only one fewer year than gordon.
     
    in the end, you’re left with four quality guards who combine for a sh*tty backcourt. i’d argue that simply pairing rip with bynum and stuck with gordon goes a long way to fix this, but it never happened. will it finally happen this season? i’m betting, in this organization, no.
     
    hindsight is only an issue (and it can be a MAJOR issue) when potential failures aren’t entirely predictable, and people aren’t shouting from the rooftops that joe d is making a mistake. charlie was a gamble, and he was a disaster the likes of which i haven’t seen in some time. gordon was a foreseeable and imminently avoidable mistake.
     
    4) you can not look at moves like this in a vacuum. just because ben gordon was the best player available, doesn’t mean he was the best player for our team. this isn’t like the draft where the risks are small and upside is the goal; you have to look at free agency differently because the risk is enormous and “the right fit” is the goal. we added another shooting guard to a team with sufficient depth at shooting guard, one of whom he had no realistic hope of playing alongside. and tied like $25 million to that one position annually for four seasons. also we’ve aligned a backcourt as such that our guys are forced to play out of position a portion of the time in order to get adequate minutes.
     
    these moves cannot be viewed in a vacuum. playing the “if rip weren’t around” game is worse than looking at everything through pure hindsight. both are a problem, but at least hindsight people can feasibly argue that they knew what the outcome would be all the way. people who look at things in a vacuum have no such luxury, as they can’t rightly pretend realities don’t exist.
     
    5) iverson and sheed had big expiring contracts. expiring contracts will always have value. heck, we gave up our best player and leader and set the franchise back to the pre-dumars era in one fell swoop for a big expiring contract. the thing is, dumars was not forced to let them expire, he made a choice. he decided to let those guys come off the books and make a move in free agency at a time when his best options were utter sh*t. if he so chose, he could have traded one or both of those contracts rather than go after free agents.
     
    people just love to ignore various possibilities in an effort to bolster their half-cocked arguments. like we had no option but to let those guys come off the books and no option but to use the money to sign free agents. this, unlike the darko situation, is an instance where you’re hurting your own argument by ignoring crucial facts and treating deliberate decisions like inevitabilities.
     
    6) this team isn’t rebuilding and cannot be looked at as such. this is just a little side note, but these signings effectively ended the “rebuilding” process because they capped us out and cost us all flexibility. it’s not rebuilding when you’re saddled with long-term commitments and have no freedom to appreciably improve in any way other than the draft. that’s just called stinking.
     

  • Sep 16, 20101:23 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    This is a minor critique, nuetes, but Dan cited Win Shares, which is not the same thing as Win Score (of which, I prefer the latter). I think both would favor Aflalo and Amir, but I’m not certain about that.

  • Sep 16, 20101:29 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    Let me add to that. I don’t actually think the Pistons would have won 8 more games with Afflalo and Amir over Gordon and CV, even though a stat would dictate that. But I don’t think they would have been any worse. They would however be better off going forward. Gordon and CV are under contract for 4 more years. Afflalo and Amir were affordable players with equal to better production who would have still allowed a lot of flexibility with the cap and roster, something that is gone now with all these long-term deals.

  • Sep 16, 20101:35 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    @brgulker – ha yes, your right. but i used win shares in my post. i guess i just called it win score. win score, or wins produced i suppose, would say afflalo and amir are way better players, not just marginally better. actually i used both. i cited the win share of the players for comparison, but then used the win score spreadsheet to plug in afflalo and amir for gordon and cv and it produced 8 more wins given the same amount of minutes played. suppose i should clarify and fact check that, but then again i’m not a journalist.

  • Sep 16, 20101:37 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    “this team isn’t rebuilding and cannot be looked at as such. this is just a little side note, but these signings effectively ended the “rebuilding” process because they capped us out and cost us all flexibility. it’s not rebuilding when you’re saddled with long-term commitments and have no freedom to appreciably improve in any way other than the draft. that’s just called stinking.”
     
    He shoots, he scores. Excellent points all around but this one in particular.
     
    Site note, is there any way to subscribe to comments?

  • Sep 16, 20101:39 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    nuetes, Gotcha. It’s super nitpicky, I know. I’m a big proponent of Win Score, though, and I know it’s easy to confuse the two.
     

  • Sep 16, 20101:45 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    that last qoute by laser pretty much sums it up. i stated the same thing in way different, less ranty more confusing terms. but yes, the gordon and cv signings cement this roster. they can’t go anywhere. there are too many long-term deals with players nobody would be willing to trade for. you can’t rebuild anything if you can’t make a move period. stuck. just stuck.

  • Sep 16, 20101:56 pm
    by Dan Feldman

    Reply

    I’ll address the bigger (and good) points when I get a chance, but yes, you can subscribe to comments. Here’s the feed:

    http://www.pistonpowered.com/?feed=comments-rss2

  • Sep 16, 20102:02 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    for the record (to make my first post more credible): using win ‘score’


    Gordon ws/48 – .003
    Villanueva ws/48 – .022
    Combined ws/48 – .025


    Afflalo ws/48 – .089
    Amir ws/48 – .168
    Combined ws/48 – .257


    Gordon ws/48 (career high) – .094
    Villanueva ws/48 (career high) – .087
    Combined ws/48 (career high) – .181


    So even in Gordon and CV’s career years they weren’t as good as Afflalo and Amir were last season. Not even close. Maybe Toronto’s GM is a fan of using win score. Might explain that Amir contract. Still wouldn’t explain the rest of that roster. Win share will also show that Afflalo and Amir were better last season than Gordon and CV. Win score says they were 8 wins better. Win share says they were 5 wins better.

  • Sep 16, 20102:16 pm
    by nuetes

    Reply

    ok this is my last comment here.
    @laser – how can you be against the article – “nope. i was 100% in your corner with the darko thing, but you’re way off here.”  - This is myth week. Dan might not even agree with what he’s writing. The whole point is to make a counter argument to a widely held belief (myth). It’s just good fun. I’m enjoying this stuff. How about Myth: Stuckey is not a good PG or Stuckey would be better at SG. or Myth: Stuckey is the best player on the team. Something has to be coming about Stuckey.
    Or fact: my font size got all whacked out somehow. Not sure if it will show up this way.

  • Sep 16, 20102:26 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    Snookie? Forever dance?
    When did Bill Simmons start writing for PistonPowered?

  • Sep 16, 20103:54 pm
    by mat

    Reply

    Your evidence is cherry-picking like crazy, but on to the reasoning…

    People use the benefit of hindsight when assessing the initial idea of signing the pair.

    Hindsight and foresight.  Milwaukee let CV walk for nothing because they knew he wasn’t very good.  The Pistons bid only against themselves for both BG and CV.  The deals were immediately panned by many as overpaying for mediocre talent.

    People misunderstand the salary-cap realties (sic) of Detroit’s situation.

    Its a valid point that the Pistons cap space in ’2010 wasn’t as big as ’2009.  But it doesn’t really matter.  CV and BG, combined, aren’t worth even the smaller amount of cap space available in 2010.  Furthermore, Prince and other players could have been moved to open up more cap space in ’10.

    People assume Gordon and Villanueva won’t improve.

    They do?  This seems like a strawman argument.  Maybe they will and maybe they won’t, but based on age these guys are at or near their peak.  Not many people make huge leaps past this age.  As for health, it nearly unanimous that they can be more productive with better health…that doesn’t mean they’ll be much better players or turn the Pistons into playoff contenders.
     
    3 points – 2 are wrong and 1 is irrelevant.
     
    Other points:

    Who cares about Chad Ford’s or others rankings of FAs?  This has nothing to do with the Pistons choices.
    Your point (I think) is that the FA class was a weak one. This only means the Pistons shouldn’t have used their salary space on it.
    Its incorrect to assume they had to use the money on free agency in ’09 or even ’10.  One alternative would have been to collect assets (draft picks) in exchange for taking on dead weight contract like OKC and others have done quite successfully.
    If you’re going to say “Gordon and Villanueva were among the cream of the crop.” on the FA class you should probably back it up. Its far from a fact.

     
    This is a pretty poorly argued piece.  You’re basically saying they had no better alternatives, when clearly they did.  Not only could they have targeted better players in free agency (e.g. Millsap), but they also could have used the money differently, to acquire assets to address the rebuilding job that is necessary.  Furthermore, there was no reason to pay CV and BG for as much and as long as they did.

  • Sep 16, 20104:13 pm
    by Odeh

    Reply

    Quick fix for next season, which I think will be a reality in the next week, because I think Joe D is running out of options.  Sign Dampier to a 2 year/8 million total deal.  And trade Rip to Sacramento for a draft pick.  This team will win 45 games and be a 6/7 seed next year, and we can further improve to a contender next year when Tay’s contract expires.
     
    Why is there not an article on Dampier here?  I know he is old but he is still a good defender/rebounder who has size.  If we offered Shaq a contract, I am POSITIVE  we are going after Dampier!!!
     
    Next years starting lineup would be Stuckey, Gordon, Prince, CV, and Dampier with a second unit of Bynum, McGrady, Daye/Jerebko, Monroe, Big Ben!

  • Sep 16, 20104:37 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    @brgulker: thanks for the compliment. glad you like what i said. this is the main thing that bugs me when people talk about this team. joe d gets a pass because they’re supposedly rebuilding. only when teams rebuild it’s usually the result of the end of a good run, the loss of a star player, budgetary concerns, outside influences. this was different. this was a self-imposed deconstruction, and every single step along the way has been a mistake.
     
    he took an elite team with limitless flexibility and single-handedly turned it into this disaster. bad team, no balance, no flexibility. it would be one thing if there was any sort of outside influence that sparked this deconstruction process (the loss of a star player, a need to cut payroll, etc.). cleveland and toronto, for instance, have an excuse for stinking (and there’s no reason for anyone to think either team has a bleaker future than we do). sports teams may run in cycles, but there’s never a need to get this low if the team is being managed wisely. and yet, some people will always find excuses and wave the flag.
     
    @nuetes: the thing here is that this is about busting myths. not only do i think this “myth” is a fact, and therefore unbustable, but i don’t think the arguments feldman used are valid. so i posed my own arguments. if the notion of this series was “playing devil’s advocate” rather than “busting myths,” i would have responded with a different overall tone, but my arguments would have been the same.
     
    i just think these were atrocious signings, gordon’s especially. you should note i gave feldman a bit of a pass on charlie hustle, admitting that it would have taken an enormous amount of foresight to have predicted he’d be THIS bad (though i did read strong opinions against cv at the time from people who were more familiar with his game than i was). i’m not going to restate what i said in my initial comment, but i think i argued my points adequately. at minimum, gordon was a HORRENDOUS signing before during and after. and i think you can’t adequately judge these signings without taking into account the entire spectrum of options joe had.
     
    this is different from the installment about darko, where i thought he presented a well-rounded argument. not so much this time.

  • Sep 16, 20104:40 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    also, “myth” does not mean “widely held belief.” MYTH and FACT are mutually exclusive.

  • Sep 16, 20105:07 pm
    by brgulker

    Reply

    I’ve come to terms with Charlie V. If he’s healthy and motivated, he can be useful … not a center piece, but useful. Gordon will never be anything more than a rich man’s Kyle Korver minus the size. Paying him as much as we did for as long as we are is franchise-killing.
     
    The Joe Johnson comparison is interesting above. Yeah, that’s an awful contract, but at least Johnson’s a fringe all star. Ben Gordon’s a fringe six man of the year.

  • Sep 16, 20106:15 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    two more things:
    1) toronto was able to move hedo’s contract. i think that makes it objectively better than being stuck with gordon and rip. everything is only worth what someone’s willing to pay for it, and they found a taker. i’ll be damned if anyone thinks three more years of rip and gordon will go well.
     
    2) the joe johnson comparison is not interesting. you’re right about the difference between those guys, but there’s nothing interesting about identifying one of the worst contracts in the NBA history and saying, “at least we didn’t do that.” that’s the ultimate straw man argument. and besides, we’ve tied up more money than he makes at that position with two guys who can’t play together. so let’s not go patting ourselves on the back for having a bunch of miserable contracts instead of one that’s “historically bad.”

  • Sep 16, 201010:44 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    Laser

    You are ignoring the fact that Sheed has retired, Dice was mostly ineffective for San Antonio last year, and Billips can no longer guard the point and it is likely that he finishes his career at the two – where the Pistons have plenty of other options. The deconstruction was necessary.

    But you are correct that Joe could have used the cap space in more creative ways instead of signing CV & Gordon. Teams were looking to dump players and we could have taken advantage of that. Even this year, the fact that we missed out on Chandler still irks me. He would have been perfect for this team. 

  • Sep 16, 201011:25 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    i’m ignoring nothing. i never said (or would say) we should have re-signed sheed, and billups and dyess would have been MAJOR upgrades at their respective positions. there’s just no doubt in my mind that the team had one more good run in it. joe broke up the band because he thought we couldn’t get past the celtics, but the celtics ended up fading due to age and injury and the east was WIDE open. don’t tell me we couldn’t have made it to the finals over orlando. and again, this is in ’08-’09 with chauncey, rip, stuck, afflalo, tayshaun, bynum, sheed, dyess, amir, uh… kwame brown. i’m sure i’m forgetting people, but this team was better than the magic. this was the team that OWNED the magic.
     
    also, don’t assume i’m saying that team should still be around today. i understand the need to adapt and get younger, and i have no doubt that it would have been absolutely necessary to have moved on by now.
     
    but in my opinion the fact that joe busted up the team while it was still great (2nd best record in the league in ’07-’08) wasn’t close to his worst crime. it’s every single decision he’s made since then that’s been the real problem. i sincerely think this team could have been set up for years to come by fleecing teams looking to score a max free agent this summer. but all these things combine to set the team back ten years. he had unlimited flexibility, and he blew it. hard.
     
    just don’t tell me i’m ignoring things. i don’t ignore things. i’m the biggest advocate you’ll ever meet of looking at the big picture and dismissing ideas that ignore crucial facts.

  • Sep 17, 20108:12 am
    by koz

    Reply

    Terrico White is a better shooter than Gordon.

  • Sep 17, 20103:36 pm
    by The Rake

    Reply

    Fair and compelling arguments made in the article. That being said, the only thing that really matters is performance. As of today, the signings were sh*tty. This year, they may (should) become better.  And perhaps, with luck and time, they can become excellent.  As of today, they suck. Looking forward to see if they can/will improve significantly this year.

  • Sep 17, 20103:43 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @koz:
    No way that’s true. Until last year, Gordon is one of the top shooters in the NBA. He’s over 40 percent for his career. White only shot like 33 percent from the college line. There’s absolutely no data that supports your argument.

  • Sep 17, 20103:47 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    “but the celtics ended up fading due to age and injury and the east was WIDE open. don’t tell me we couldn’t have made it to the finals over orlando.”
    They couldn’t have made it to the Finals over Orlando. Orlando made it to the Finals b/c they murdered Cleveland’s bigs with Lewis/Turkoglu on screen and rolls, and Howard was a beast. I know Detroit had good success against Orlando, but that Magic team was really unique, well-coached and got hot at the right time.
    The one factor in all of this that you might not be considering is the Pistons were coached by Michael Curry. That team had playoff meltdowns under Saunders when adjustments needed to be made, and Saunders is 100 times the coach Curry is. I can’t imagine MC trying to make an adjustment in a playoff series. He would’ve been a huge liability.

  • Pingback

    Sep 18, 20106:00 am
    by Thursday Bullets | Your NBA News

    Reply

    [...] Signing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva has not been a homerun for the Pistons. But given their other options at the time, it wasn’t the dumbest thing ever, either. Even saving the cap space for the 2010 free agent class wasn’t a no-brainer. At that time, the salary cap was expected to be so low that they could not have been assured room to sign even one max player. [...]

  • Sep 19, 201011:45 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    1) don’t say those pistons couldn’t have gotten past orlando. i was never high on that team in the first place, and we CERTAINLY had the bigs to guard howard one-on-one, the key to having success against orlando. i think it would have looked a lot like the NBA finals that year. obviously all we can do is guess the outcome, but based on years of history between these teams i think it’s a lot safer to guess detroit wins handily.
     
    2) saunders may have been 100 times the coach as curry, but he was never terribly good with adjustments. he was a poster boy for coaching the game plan instead of the game. he made good use of three guard sets against the celtics in ’08, but that’s the only significant adjustment i can remember him making in any playoff series. and besides, see item #1. i just don’t think orlando is very scary when you have the bigs to guard howard one-on-one.

  • Sep 20, 20104:13 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    the signings also show the folly of depending on cap space and speculation about free agents as a basis for building a team.
    except for miami’s splash this year and the rare, isolated signing, free agency is a horrible way to look at adding players.  you have no leverage with them – unless they are your own and you have bird rights or they are restricted – and you end up overpaying them.
    the two signings, as has been noted, were roundly panned when they happened.  i read chicago papers routinely – i lived there for a while and got into the habit – and when i kept reading how much interest detroit allegedly had in gordon, which was all over the chicago media, i didn’t believe it.  it made no sense.  it made no sense at the time and it still makes no sense.  there is still no clear manner in which ben gordon is going to play enough minutes to justify his contract.
    and charlie v?
    geez…all you needed to know how much of a stiff he was is that milwaukee said, thanks but no thanks.  teams do not simply let talented big men like him walk away in free agency unless there is something basically wrong with that player.  detroit fans got a real, birds-eye view of why milwaukee let him walk.  and why detroit is his third team in only what…5 years in the league.  it was a horrible signing when it happened – and i railed against it on other fan forums – and it is a horrible signing now.  as i said at the time it happened, joe d will be trying to get rid of his contract for its duration.

  • Pingback

    Oct 20, 20102:31 pm
    by Pistons Links |

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    [...] PistonPowered: Myth: Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva were horrendous signings [...]

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