I've been negligent with my DBB duties the last couple of weeks, so it feels a little awkward to suddenly chime in with a link from elsewhere, but alas, here's my latest at FanHouse on Charlie Villanueva officially falling out of the rotation:
For those dwindling fans still paying attention, the team hit a new low on Wednesday when Charlie Villanueva, one half of Joe Dumars' free-agent bonanza last summer, stayed glued to the bench in a loss to the Miami Heat. It was his first healthy scratch of the season, and it comes on the heels of a five-minute cameo in Detroit's previous game, signaling that Villanueva may have fallen out of the rotation as the Pistons enter the final two weeks of the season.
"We had made some changes and we wanted to give some other guys a look right now," Coach John Kuester said after the game. "That's the direction we wanted to go into, I did it. I talked to my staff and made sure we were all on the same page."
The coaching staff may be on the same page, but that doesn't mean Villanueva understands the move -- especially since he claims nobody warned him of his declining role. "Are me and Kuester on the same page?" Villanueva said. "Um, I don't know how to answer that one to be honest with you. I don't know the answer."
[...] There's no doubt that Villanueva has underperformed after signing a five-year, $35 million contract, especially on the defensive end, but he's also played through a host of injuries while only missing three games, all the while posting a 15.5 PER, which is hardly remarkable but ranks second on the team.
"[The injuries are] still there, but it hasn't stopped me before, so it's definitely not going to stop me now," Villanueva said. "Am I hurt? Everybody's hurt. But I'm going to keep playing."
Even so, the Pistons are long overdue preparing for the future, even if it means alienating a player who six months ago was viewed as a foundation block. Summers hasn't been given many opportunities (and hasn't consistently impressed when he has) but he has the potential to be a cheap Villanueva knockoff: a big man who prefers to play like a guard, camping out on the perimeter instead of banging in the paint. He lacks Villanueva's length, but it's not like Villanueva makes use of his.
If Maxiell misses any time, I'll be mildly surprised if Villanueva continues to sit, although my lack of excitement when it comes to Summers makes me indifferent to Kuester's decision. Either way, it's one thing for fans to admit the Gordon/Charlie signings were a bust, but it's another to see the head coach come to the realization; this season has been a series of a kicks to the gut.