Charlie Villanueva should have entered his peak years of performance with the Detroit Pistons. Approaching only 25 years of age and coming off a career year, Villanueva signed a five year, $35 million deal with Detroit in 2009. Pistons GM Joe Dumars thought he had his core of the future in Villanueva, fellow free agent signee Ben Gordon, and up-and-comer Rodney Stuckey. Now, it’s four years later and boy, does Dumars have egg on his face.
Dumars has cleaned up a bit of his mess in recent years, and appears to have put the Pistons back in a good position for the future. Villanueva, on the other hand, has not. He will only be 30 years old after this season; sure, his age will be on the wrong side of the bell curve, but Villanueva is not going to be old by any standard. He should have some good years left in him and be looking at the prospect of another favorable deal this offseason.
With this in mind, you would think that Villanueva would have gotten himself into incredible shape and honed his craft as much as possible, in order to ready himself for one last grab at a decent NBA contract. After all, he’d already done it once before; Villanueva played well in 2008 and earned himself that fat contract from Dumars.
Instead, it appears Villanueva has already checked out. Perhaps he’s content with the paychecks he’s already received, and another cash grab isn’t enough motivation for him. Regardless, Villanueva played so poorly this preseason. that head coach Maurice Cheeks publicly called his conditioning into question after going 0-for-8 from the three point line in Detroit’s first two preseason games.
From David Mayo of MLive:
Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks speculated that Charlie Villanueva’s 0-of-8 shooting on 3-pointers in two preseason games is the product of training-camp legs. “If you’re a shooter, you’ve got to get yourself in that shape to be able to make those shots,” Cheeks said.
“If you’re a rebounder, you’re not rebounding, they find somebody to rebound. If you’re a shooter, you don’t shoot, they find somebody to shoot,” he said.
Villanueva went 2-for-4 in the next game, but finished the preseason with a less than impressive .211 three point percentage on 4-of-19 shooting beyond the arc. If you’re a Pistons fan, you hoped history would repeat itself this season and Charlie would be motivated enough to at least improve his trade value. Instead, it seems the opposite has happened.
Shooting the ball, especially from deep, was Villanueva’s greatest strength, and it appears he doesn’t even do that well anymore. At this point, it might be more accurate to consider Villanueva’s greatest basketball strength as the fact that he’s not committed to play for money after this season. Check the postage, because it appears that Charlie has already mailed it in.