For the Charlie Villanueva to be eligible for another team’s playoff roster – the whole point of these buyouts – the Pistons must waive him by the end of the day Saturday.
Villanueva, for his part, said he’s interested in a buyout. Via David Mayo of MLive:
“I want to play. If it’s not here, then I’m still young, I’ve still got a lot of years of playing left. I just want to play,” he said.
“It’s hard because I love this game, I’m very passionate about this game, so it’s hard not to let my frustration out,” he said. “But you’ve just got to come to grips with it. They made their decision. It is what it is. So there’s nothing I can do about it. There’s nothing I can do about it. It doesn’t matter what I do in practice. It doesn’t matter what kind of work I put in. It doesn’t matter.”
At this point, I don’t care whether or not the Pistons buy out Villanueva. He’s remained generally patient through these five years, the prime of his career washed away as now four coaches have marginalized him. If he wants to try to land a playing job with a different team, the Pistons should have the decency to consider letting him.
Of course, Villanueva is culpable in his own demise. He’s a score-only player who sometimes seems more concerned with whether he looks fluid rather than whether he’s productive. Each offseason, he hypes his renewed dedication. Each season, the results underwhelm.
There’s no guarantee Villanueva would get picked up, but that risk should be his to take — if he and the Pistons reach a suitable settlement. Villanueva will surely have to return some money in exchange for his freedom, and the Pistons should assess the market to avoid Villanueva going to a team competing with Detroit for a playoff berth (no matter how slim the Pistons’ chances are).*
*Unless the Pistons are tanking. Then maybe they should want Villanueva to join an Eastern Conference playoff contender. Then again, maybe Villanueva would sabotage that team. In that case, they should buy him out if they think he’ll sign with a competing team.
This is just getting too complicated. Buy him out if the money is right. Don’t worry about where he goes.
Finally, not to dig up the past — aw, heck, I’m totally going to dig up the past. The Pistons should have amnestied this guy when they had the chance. Really, they should have amnestied Ben Gordon, but they were too cheap or foolish or some combination of the two to do that. But amnestying Villanueva would have been better than amnestying neither.
Getting ridding of him now won’t undo that mistake. The Pistons can no longer trade him. There’s no indication they’ll play him. They almost certainly won’t re-sign him.
Like I said, I don’t care whether or not they buy him out. The Pistons’ and Villanueva’s long overdo separation will happen soon enough, either way.