Chauncey Billups has reached agreement on a two-year contract to return to the Detroit Pistons, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The deal will be worth $5 million-plus for Billups, league sources said.
Billups, 36, hopes to finish his career where it blossomed in the glory years of the Billups-Richard Hamilton-Ben Wallace Pistons of the mid-2000s. Billups will play the part of mentor for young Detroit guard Brandon Knight, and be a rotation guard off the bench for Detroit.
Pistons general manager Joe Dumars has long regretted trading Billups to the Denver Nuggets for the expiring contract of Allen Iverson in the 2008-09 season.
As I read this news, big smile crept over my face. Chauncey Billups won’t necessarily change the Pistons’ trajectory, but man, this going to be a lot of fun.
I even began to headline this post “Pistons re-sign…” before realizing Billups is signing, not re-signing. But sure feels like he is, doesn’t it? Despite him bouncing around the Nuggets, Knicks and Clippers, in some ways, it feels like he just left.
In other ways, it feels like he’s been gone a long time. Brandon Knight has struggled to man the position for which Billups set such high standards, though I suspect Billups’ delayed development has actually given Pistons point guards longer leashes. Still, we’re reaching the point nearly everyone agrees Knight must produce or lose his job.
Billups – like Rasheed Wallace with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond – can impart some of his wisdom on the young Knight, and wow, I just can’t get over how cool it is to have both those 2004 champions back in the fold. Unlike Wallace, though, Billups will be in uniform, and that’s why he could help the Pistons even more.
Knight has been handed the starting job to begin the last two years, and he needs someone to push him. Jose Calderon, when healthy, pushed him right out of the point-guard position last season, a fate too harsh for a young, developing player in a lost season. Billups might provide a reasonable bar for Knight to clear, the corollary being Billups might be good enough to start if Knight doesn’t assert himself.
There’s no doubt Billups can mentor Knight, but can Billups actually vie for a starting job? Billups will turn 37 before the season begins, and he’s coming off a poor playoff showing, so there are sound reasons to doubt that part of the bargain.
However, I thought Billups was in sharp decline when his postseason performances wavered late in his Detroit tenure, and that’s why I didn’t mind, at the time, trading him for Allen Iverson and potential cap relief. Obviously, I – like Joe Dumars, whom I appreciated reading “has long regretted” the move, according to a reporter who seems pretty plugged-in to Dumars’ thinking – was wrong about that traction.
This one, though, feels oh so right.