Breaking: Chauncey Billups Will Remain with New York Knicks
The New York Knicks have just officially announced that Chauncey Billups will remain with the New York Knicks through next season. Billups had a team option on his contract that had to be picked up by this Friday. With this announcement, the Knicks have decided to pay point-guard Billups the full $14,200,00 he is due instead of buying him out for $3.7 million in exchange for off-season flexibility.
This is a big decision for the Knicks. It pretty much will make it impossible for New York to get any solid role players in the off-season, depending on what the new Collective Bargaining Agreement ends up looking like. With Carmelo Anthony making $18,518,574 next year and Amar’e Stoudemire making $18,217,705, there isn’t much room for anyone else.
Obviously, the Knicks are in dire need of a reliable center. But now, barring some kind of wild trade, draft luck, or under-the-radar free agent, that just won’t be happening for next season. Those dreams of Marc Gasol? Definitely not happening now, especially after his excellent play against San Antonio.
This isn’t to say keeping Chauncey is necessarily a bad move. In a Mike D’Antoni offensive system, a solid point-guard is more vital than a solid center. That became readily obvious during this year’s playoffs, when the Knicks offense went stagnate at home with Billups injured. Knicks GM Donnie Walsh clearly looked at this year’s playoffs and decided that Toney Douglas cannot work as a stopgap starting point-guard until something else comes through. And he definitely wasn’t ready to put a hole in the point-guard position in order to fill a hole at center.
That’s all fine. The biggest risk here though is another thing that was clearly exposed since the Carmelo Anthony trade: Chauncey’s health. Billups has spent much of his time in New York so far sidelined with a series of injuries – most crucially during the playoffs. Billups will be 35 when next season starts. He’s obviously deserved a lot of accolades during his career, but his best is very likely behind him. This isn’t to say that he isn’t still capable of doing great things for New York, but more injuries and slip-ups against younger players should be expected.
There really weren’t any great alternatives for New York though. I mean, who else were the Knicks supposed to grab – on the cheap – to replace Billups? And keeping Billups and his $14 million expiring contract for next year gives New York some flexibility to (as many hope) potentially make a trade for Chris Paul or Deron Williams. Personally, I think these may just be pipe dreams. But you never know.
Next up for the Knicks: re-signing Donnie Walsh. But right now, things are looking pretty good on that front. Just the fact that Donnie pulled the trigger on picking up Chauncey’s option is a good sign. We’re likely to hear more on that pretty soon.
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