Since joining the Pistons via free agency before the 2009-10 season, Charlie Villanueva has been the personification of fan frustration. Set to make $8,060,00 this season, and having only started 27 times out of a possible 171 games played, Pistons fans (including this writer) have been shouting "AMNESTY" from the rooftops of downtown's Renaissance Center. But Frank Gores is an owner that doesn't believe in free-money and Charlie V. remains on the roster. A spot that has brought Charlie V. a whopping 38 minutes of playing time through 14 games this season. While Gores might want to re-think his definition of free-money, Charlie V. did something unexpected against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday: he earned his paycheck.
On the floor more than 15 minutes for the first time since April of 2012, Lawrence Frank played Charlie V. a season-high 19 minutes in place of the struggling Jonas Jerebko on Sunday afternoon. The result: 17 points, shooting nearly fifty-percent from the field, and three baskets from beyond the arch. In a game that saw the New York Knicks up nearly 20 points for what felt like 48 minutes, Charlie V.'s off-the-pine offense was a welcome sight for the Pistons. Problem is, the guy still can't defend.
After the game, Charlie V. was at the center of the Detroit media. Normally, a high-paid player who doesn't play would be expected to have an "I told you so" mentality after a breakout game. But Charlie V. showed a maturity that was refreshing for even the biggest Charile-hater.
"You just have to be ready," Charlie V. said about his mindset during his weeks on the the bench. "I'm just going to make the most (out) of the opportunity. Taking it a game at time."
Lawrence Frank was vague when asked about his thoughts on bringing Charlie V. into the fold with a bigger role. But there's no reason to think that Frank won't give Charlie V. similar minutes tonight against the Portland Trailblazers. Despite what his paycheck says, Charlie V. isn't going to play starter on this rebuilding Pistons team. But if he can consistently bring at least half of Sunday's point production on a nightly basis, Charlie V. might be able to silence a few of those amnesty pleas from the fan base.
If nothing else, better play might open up a few trade doors for the Pistons to lighten some of Charlie V.'s eight million dollar burden.
Tags: Basketball, Charlie Villanueva, Detroit, Detroit Pistons, NBA
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