With Chauncey Billups having an injury plagued season and possibly not being as well suited to Mike D’Antoni’s offense as a more up-tempo point guard would be, along with the fact that the final year of his contract is pricey, there was at least some speculation that the New York Knicks would decline Billups’ option and allow him to become a free agent. This understandably had some Pistons fans excited, hoping maybe the team and Billups would be interested in a Ben Wallace-style reunion as Billups finishes out his career.
Unfortunately, it won’t happen this offseason. The Knicks decided to pick up Billups’ option yesterday. From Marc Berman of the NY Post:
Billups could have been waived by tomorrow’s deadline and bought out for $3.7 million. The savings, however, would have brought the Knicks under the salary cap by, at best, $8 million, and they would have been in dire need of a point guard amid a bare free-agent crop.
“We have made a decision to keep Chauncey Billups for the upcoming 2011-12 season,” Walsh said in a statement.
“Chauncey, Amar’e [Stoudemire] and Carmelo are a great nucleus, as we continue to look to improve our team going into the offseason. Chauncey is an extremely talented and experienced point guard — we are very happy to have him back.”
As nice as it would’ve been to see Billups back in Detroit, it was kind of a pipe-dreamy scenario. Billups is aging and does have some flaws, but the Knicks wouldn’t have done better on the free agent market during a thin year for point guards and they are basically devoid of assets to make more trades after giving up nearly every tradable piece on their team save for Landry Fields in the Carmelo Anthony trade. New York would’ve been crazy to let him go, particularly since he will now have the added value of being a large expiring contract during the season that might help them if another team wants to unload a long-term deal to a useful player in a trade.