Knicks pick up option on Chauncey Billups

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He’s not cheap at $14.2 million a year, and he’s not young at age 35 by next playoffs.

But the Knicks were not going to find a better point guard for their team next season.

So they picked up the option on Chauncey Billups, the team announced Wednesday.

“We have made a decision to keep Chauncey Billups for the upcoming 2011-12 season,” team president Donnie Walsh said in a released statement. “Chauncey, Amar’e and Carmelo are a great nucleus, as we continue to look to improve our team going into the off-season. Chauncey is an extremely talented and experienced point guard — we are very happy to have him back.”

This was the smart move by the Knicks.

Billups is not the long-term answer, but once the lockout is over there will not be a long-term point guard answer out there on the market. Billups is a good short-term answer and this is a one-year deal so it does not mess with Knicks long-term plans. While the Denver native may have balked at being traded to the Knicks to start with, Billups adjusted and  brings them 17.5 points per game and 5.5 assists per game. It took him a while to get used to Mike D’Antoni’s system but by the end he was not turning the ball over much and his shooting percentages should improve from 40.3 percent. He’s not an ideal fit but he’s a pro and a solid fit.

It also brings a veteran presence both Stoudemire and Anthony respect to the locker room to help keep things in line. This guy has a ring and a finals MVP, which is what the other Knicks want.

Billups also is a huge potential trading chip next year should a point guard of the future (*cough*Chris Paul*cough*) become available via trade. But it does mean the Knicks have $53 million locked up in ‘Melo, Amar’e and Billups so if they are going to make any kind of serious move Billups could be the bait via trade.

LeBron James blows wide-open dunk (video)

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J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”

Report: Raptors’ Delon Wright out a month

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Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.

Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.

The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.

Report: Clippers PG Patrick Beverley out rest of season

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Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley underwent knee surgery – never a great sign.

The prognosis is about as bad as could be expected.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This injury isn’t just a setback for this season. It could derail the Clippers’ long-term plan.

They’ve already lost nine straight, and Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic are injured. If they fall further out of playoff position, they could become sellers before the trade deadline, especially with DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025 player option for next season) and Lou Williams ($7 million salary on expiring contract).

Health was always the major question with this team, and it won’t soften as Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari age through lucrative contracts.

The final year of Beverley’s contract is guaranteed for just $5,027,028 next season, and the 29-year-old will spend most of the summer recovering from this injury. That salary is probably low enough that the Clippers will keep him without hesitation.

Until then, down a couple point guards, the Clippers have no choice but to continue leaning more on Austin Rivers. That also means greater roles for second-round rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. That’s just too many players facing outsized responsibility.

The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Jazz and any other team competing for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference ought to feel better about their chances. They’re still competing with each other, and it’s doubtful all three make it. But Beverley’s injury helps clear the way.

The Clippers, who didn’t want to take a major step back after Chris Paul‘s departure, must confront an even more uneasy reality.

Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Bucks-Suns Eric Bledsoe revenge game

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Giannis Antetokounmpoone of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.

Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.

Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.

Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.

“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”

The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.

I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.