Charlie Villanueva picks up $8.5 million option

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Detroit Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva has picked up his $8.5-million option for next season.

That was expected. Charlie Villanueva has drastically underperformed his contract with the Pistons, and he wasn’t getting near that amount as a free agent.

Now – if money is no object – the Pistons should amnesty Villanueva. There is no argument here.

I suppose it’s possible having an $8.5 million expiring contract represents more value to the Pistons than having an extra $8.5 million in cap space (though I doubt it), but the argument could be made the Pistons could sign free agents up to the cap line, trade an $8.5 million contract for up to $12.85 million in returning salary and exceed the salary cap by more money than could by taking the straight cap-space route.

But if the Pistons want an $8.5 million expiring contract, the could amnesty Villanueva and very easily sign a better player to a one-year, $8.5 million contract. That better replacement would fetch more in a trade.

Of course, money is an object.

Amnestying Villanueva and signing a replacement to a one-year, $8.5 million contact would cost the Pistons $17 million – an $8.5 million more than just keeping Villanueva. Is that price worth it to Tom Gores? Probably not.

The Pistons should still strongly consider amnestying Villanueva, though. They aren’t forced to sign a replacement, but the cap space would be available in the event they need it.

Remember, amnestied contracts count against the payroll floor, which will be set at 90 percent of the salary cap this season. So, using last season’s salary cap of $58,044,000 for this explanation, teams that don’t use the amnesty could enter the season with a maximum of $5,804,400 in cap room. If the Pistons amnesty Villanueva, they could hold as much as $14,304,400 in cap room. That would be a major advantage in mid-season trade negotiations.

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