Tag: Chauncey Billups

Chauncey Billups

Chauncey Billups reportedly undergoing knee surgery


What a horrific signing by the Pistons last summer. He’s way overpaid. The Pistons, already a bad team, are worse on both ends of the court when plays.

No, not Josh Smith (who’s actually helped the wayward Pistons offensively and defensively).

I’m talking about Chauncey Billups.

When you give Smith a $54 million contract, your other missteps tend be overlooked. But Joe Dumars also signed Billups to a two-year, $5 million contract before the season.

I don’t want to denigrate Billups, who’s had a marvelous career and did so much for the Pistons in his first stint with the team. But in his return season, he’s barely gotten on the court (309 minutes in 19 games) and played poorly when he has (5.46 PER). Billups hasn’t done anything wrong, per se. That’s just what happens when players age

As does this:

I’m not sure how you declare any surgery on a 37-year-old – especially someone who’s missed 140 of his teams’ 201 games (and counting) the last three years – won’t be career-ending, let alone season-ending.

The Pistons have a team option for Billups next year, and if they didn’t already plan to cut him loose, this should push them firmly in that direction. They wasted one chance to put a better player on the roster, and they shouldn’t squander another.

Billups can transition to his next career in a team’s front office – he’s always said he prefers that to coaching – and the Pistons can sign someone younger.

Hopefully, Billups returns later this season to get a proper sendoff while playing for Detroit, where he experienced so much success. But after that, it’s time to move on.

The Extra Pass: Which non-All-Stars will make an All-NBA team?

New Orleans Pelicans vs Miami Heat
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All-Star selections have become the de facto measure of good seasons, even though they’re really only the measure of good half seasons and rely on a gerrymandered system that splits players by conference.

But All-NBA teams – which evaluate a full year and aren’t split by conference – are a better metric for good seasons.

In the last eight years, 10 players have missed the All-Star Game and made an All-NBA team. Let’s have a quick look back on them and then project who the most likely players are to make the snubbed-to-honored jump this season.


  • Second-team center: Marc Gasol
  • All-Stars he jumped: Dwight Howard (third team), Tyson Chandler, Brook Lopez, Joakim Noah, Chris Bosh

Gasol’s teammate, Zach Randolph, made the All-Star Game, and coaches were probably leery of putting two Grizzles on the team. Gasol also won Defensive Player of the Year, and as voters reflected on that award postseason in a way they didn’t have to midseason, they likely better-saw Gasol’s value.


  • Third-team center: Tyson Chandler
  • All-Stars he jumped: Marc Gasol, Roy Hibbert

Like Gasol in 2013, Chandler likely got a boost when voters, selecting him for Defensive Player of the Year, were forced to look more closely to that side of the ball. Plus, Carmelo Anthony took what might have been seen as the one spot reserved for a Knick.


  • Third-team forwards: LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph
  • All-Stars they jumped: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Paul Pierce

Aldridge was a pretty big snub this year – even LeBron said so – so the Portland big man didn’t  have much ground to make up. If anything, Randolph’s productio nfell off after the All-Star game. But they might have been competing against only the Western Conference All-Star forwards, because the East’s group just had to be filled out with someone from that conference. In perception, Duncan got his All-Star nod based on his career accomplishments and Griffin his based on his dunking ability. Those didn’t hold up for All-NBA. The other Western Conference All-Star forward, Love, played for a team that finished 17-65. A full season of futility is much harder to overlook than a half season of struggles.


  • Third-Team center: Andrew Bogut
  • All-Stars they jumped: Al Horford, Chris Kaman

Bogut was about the same player before and All-Star break, but his Bucks were not. They went 24-27 before the All-Star Game and 22-9 after, raising Bogut’s stock during the “Feat the Deer” euphoria that ended with Milwaukee finishing second in the NBA in defensive rating.


  • Third-team forward: Carmelo Anthony
  • All-Stars he jumped: Chris Bosh, Kevin Garnett, Danny Granger, Rashard Lewis, Amar’e Stoudemire, David West

Melo missed 15 games of the season’s first with an injury, and that’s likely what kept him from the All-Star Game. By the end of the year, 16 total missed games weren’t quite as significant.


  • Second-team guard: Deron Williams; Third-team guards: Manu Ginobili, Tracy McGrady
  • All-Stars they jumped: Ray Allen, Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Allen Iverson, Joe Johnson, Jason Kidd, Brandon Roy, Dwyane Wade

Wade got hurt, clearing All-NBA space. Otherwise, what a confusing mess. When there’s a deep group of players – see Western Conference forwards this year – it’s not that hard for a snubbed All-Star to make modest gains and pass several players.


  • Third-team forward: Carmelo Anthony
  • All-Stars he jumped: Chris Bosh, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol, Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O’Neal, Paul Piece, Rasheed Wallace

This was a lengthy and impressive list of players Melo passed. In his first elite season, it likely just took everyone a full year to really realize he was for real.

So, based on that recent history, which non All-Stars are most likely to make an All-NBA team this season?

Honorable mention: Arron Afflalo, Andrew Bogut, Mike Conley, Goran Dragic, Andre Drummond, Tim Duncan, David Lee, Nikola Pekovic, Lance Stephenson

5. Kyle Lowry

When a group other than NBA coaches, who’ve notoriously feuded with Lowry over the years, is making the selections, he should fare much better. The Raptors’ de facto designated All-Star spot went to the less-deserving DeMar DeRozan, but that type of thinking won’t matter as much at the end of the year.

4. Russell Westbrook

If all goes well, Westbrook will play 52 games this season. In 2007, Wade made the All-NBA third team while playing just 51 games. It will require perfect health once he returns and few signs of rust, but Westbrook has a shot.

3. DeAndre Jordan

Jordan is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and as you can see above, those usually fare well. Only three centers made the All-Star Game this year: Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert and Joakim Noah. Jordan would have had a strong case over Noah if they were in the same conference. In April, that will no longer matter.

2. DeMarcus Cousins

As noted with Jordan, third-team center is primed for the taking. Cousins got squeezed out in the forward-deep West, but if he keeps producing like this – proving his value over a full season like Melo did in 2006 – he’ll be hard to overlook.

1. Anthony Davis

Davis should fall off this list when Adam Silver names him Kobe Bryant’s injury replacement. But in case that doesn’t happen, Davis has already begun to build a strong All-NBA case. Plus, he’s just getting better as the year progresses, so he’ll likely look even more impressive by season’s end. He could make an All-NBA team at forward or center, further boosting his chances.




Suns 102, Pacers 94: Snub Goran Dragic will you? He came out pushing the tempo (the game had 100 possessions) and ran past the Pacers defense to score 28 points (on 21 shots) plus dish out 7 assists. Phoenix went on a 17-5 run in the first half and in the second quarter led by as many as 19. The way the Suns get out and run is a matchup problem for the Pacers, but they started to figure it out. The Pacers cranked up the defensive pressure in the third quarter (they switched Paul George onto Dragic) and won the frame 25-11 and it looked like they would come back, but every time Indiana made a run Phoenix answered. The Morris Brothers combined for 31 points. Roy Hibbert had 26 points to lead the Pacers.

Knicks 117, Cavaliers 86: Cleveland would trade Anthony Bennett straight up for Tim Hardaway Jr. right now. As for the game, the Knicks have won four straight games now, and while only one of those was against a team that is not a tire fire (Charlotte) it doesn’t matter. The Knicks are playing the small-ball lineup everyone called for (with Carmelo Anthony at the four) and it works. Like it did last year. Thursday night the Knicks went on an 18-2 run just a couple minutes into the first quarter and the game was over at that point, basically. Carmelo Anthony had 18 of his 29 in that first quarter and he got to sit down and play cheerleader for the fourth. Kyrie Irving had 24 for the Cavaliers and didn’t get much help (Dion Waiters had 21 but 16 came in the fourth when the game was all but over).

Warriors 111, Clippers 92: This was the third blowout game of the day. Golden State went on a 13-2 run in the first quarter, started to really pull away in the second and ran away with it. Stephen Curry had 12 in the first quarter, David Lee had 10 and both ended the game with 22. The Clippers looked like a team on the second night of a back-to-back, ninth game in 14 days with eight of those games on the road. They looked tired. Blake Griffin had 27 and was 7-of-12 from the perimeter (if you say all he can do is dunk you simply don’t watch him play) but even he looked flat.

Brandon Jennings finding running a team difficult after ‘shooting at will’ in Milwaukee

Maurice Cheeks, Brandon Jennings

The Detroit Pistons, clearly in win-now mode, traded the younger Brandon Knight and passed on even-younger Trey Burke in the draft to make Brandon Jennings their starting point guard.

Jennings, in his fifth NBA season – and sixth pro season, as the Pistons repeatedly noted when they acquired him – should be more polished than Detroit’s potential alternatives.

But Jennings has looked extremely rough around the edges this season.

He’s making just 39 percent of his 2-pointers and 33 percent of his 3-pointers, and his turnovers per game and per minute are both career highs. What gives?

Jennings, via Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

“I think I’m just thinking too much, trying to find guys instead of looking for my shot,” Jennings said. “So when I do, I’m out of rhythm because I’m not looking for it.”

“It’s been a little difficult, but it’s definitely going to take some time,” Jennings said. “I’m still gonna keep doing what I’m doing. This is a learning year for me, trying to be able to run a team. In Milwaukee I was just playing basketball and shooting at will. This year, I’m taking a step back.”

Maurice Cheeks is trying to turn Jennings into a pass-first point guard, but the results have been mixed.

Jennings is averaging a career-high 8.3 assists per game, and though increased passing has caused his turnover spike, his assist-to-turnover ratio is also a career best. The Pistons score 102.8 points per 100 possessions with him and 98.5 points per 100 possessions without him.

That’s all certainly encouraging.

Jennings’ shooting, on the other hand, has not.

His 39 percent on 2s and 33 percent on 3s are below his career averages, but neither are career lows. They’re both within his expected range.

What makes those efficiencies troubling is Jennings is shooting less frequently than ever. If he’s going to be more selective with his attempts, he should make a higher percentage of them – at least in theory. He clearly hasn’t gotten comfortable with that tradeoff in real time.

But Cheeks doesn’t see that as a legitimate excuse. Cheeks, via Goodwill:

“He just didn’t shoot the ball well. It’s not about thinking,” Cheeks said. “Part of the game is thinking. It’s a happy medium where you run offense or take shots. It’s not something new. You have shots, you take them. You make them or miss them.”

Cheeks made it clear he doesn’t subscribe to the theory of overthinking, but he wants Jennings to toe the line from aggression to recklessness.

“He’s got to be aggressive in the game,” Cheeks said. “You cannot be afraid to make a mistake. You’re gonna make mistakes. Play to his ability and his ability is good enough for him and good enough for us.”

The Pistons were spoiled with one of the greatest mid-career improvements by a point guard in NBA history when Chauncey Billups went from spot starter with the Timberwolves to NBA Finals MVP with Detroit under the tutelage of Larry Brown.

Jennings and Cheeks almost certainly won’t duplicate that. Jennings isn’t Billups, and Cheeks, though a former All-Star point guard, isn’t Brown.

But how close Jennings and Cheeks come and how quickly they get there will have a large impact on the second half of the Pistons’ season. The challenge is steep, though. Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

Jennings has said he was never a guy who studied videotape before this season and now he and Cheeks spend many hours every week reviewing games.

At some point, those lessons might change how Jennings sees the floor. If it all works, Jennings will be a better player than he ever could have been as a shoot-first gunner. If the Pistons get that more complete player, they’ll be better off for it.

But in the meantime, they’re hurting themselves in the present as Jennings changes his style on the fly. At 17-24 and just outside playoff position, Detroit might not maintain that patience with Jennings’ development.

Josh Smith takes ‘real offense’ to Maurice Cheeks benching him

Josh Smith

When Maurice Cheeks removed Josh Smith from the starting lineup for missing a practice – called at the last moment, for the day following a back-to-back, after Smith had decided to stay in Atlanta to tend to his ill father – Smith bit his tongue.

But now that Cheeks benched Smith for the entire second half of the Pistons’ 106-82 loss to the Wizards on Saturday, Smith isn’t remaining quiet.

Smith, via David Mayo of MLive:

“It’s an honor for me to play, you know what I’m saying?  So when anybody challenges — or anything about the fact that, you know, about me not wanting to play — then I take real offense to it,” Smith said.

Smith shouldn’t feel offended. He played lousy in the first half, scoring four points on seven shots – a night after the Pistons slumbered through a blowout loss to the lowly Magic.

But he should feel singled out.

Every Detroit player struggled against Washington. Smith didn’t strike me as any worse than his teammates. And though starter Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also began the second half on the bench, he eventually returned to the court. Smith never did.

It’s not clear why Cheeks chose Smith to bench, but the coach at least considered going further. Mayo:

He admitted he would have liked to bench the entire starting five to begin the second half.”If I could have, yeah,” Cheeks said, when asked that question.  “The way the first half went, yeah.  But the way the first half went, I really couldn’t.”

Why didn’t Cheeks just bench everyone? Especially after the Orlando loss, nobody would have claimed the starters didn’t have it coming.

If there were a reason to single out Smith, the team’s highest-paid player, it’s because he once singled himself out as the model for game-day focus. Smith after a November loss, via Mayo:

“When I prepare for a game, it starts during shootaround,” Smith said after the Pistons let a six-point halftime lead get away.  “And I think everybody needs to have that same mentality.”

Yet, Smith reached the Verizon Center just 82 minutes before Sunday’s game, according Kyle Weidie of TruthAboutIt.net:

Is that enough time for Smith (and Chauncey Billups, Charlie Villanueva and Will Bynum) to prepare for a game? Maybe, but that late arrival does not set a good example for the same teammates he previously chided for not following his lead.

If Smith and Cheeks aren’t an impasse, they’re heading toward one. Will either change their ways?

Smith, via J. Michael of CSN Washington:

“I’m an aggressive person. I’m not passive. So maybe a passive person that takes life that way won’t understand an aggressive person. I really can’t worry about what people perceive of me because they don’t know me on a day-to-day basis so I’m really not concerned about what people perceive about me at all.”

“To me it is over with. But you know some people hold grudges longer than others. I don’t know. I’m not saying he does. I’m not the type of person that really likes to go all the time in coach’s office and have a one-on-one sitdown. I’m more of a team morale guy.”

Cheeks has frequently defended his laid-back demeanor, saying he’s not going change his personality to conform to anyone’s view of what a coach should be. And good for him. But he has to find a way to meet Smith in the middle. Previously, Cheeks has. Smith returned to the starting lineup one game after the Atlanta incident. Cheeks has also tried to push Smith into more post-ups offensively and blamed his own scheme when Smith drifts to the perimeter. But this incident goes beyond those more-minor disputes. The Pistons have fired coaches and shed players in an effort to build a more harmonious team. It clearly hasn’t completely worked.If there’s any solace for the Pistons in this situation, Smith has a long history of battling coaches, and Cheeks has even more experience sparring with players. These two know the terrain.And yet they’ve both avoided the big blowup that destroys teams. I doubt this flare-up will even challenge to blemish that perfect record.

Mike D’Antoni: Chances “pretty good” Kobe plays Sunday… he sold that short

Kobe Bryant

UPDATE 5:37 pm: Kobe Bryant will make his return on Sunday night — he made the announcement in a Facebook video. Apparently he owns some FB stock.

3:22 pm: The Lakers are in Sacramento tonight. Kobe Bryant will be at his home in Newport Beach, trying to get his daughters to turn off the “Muppets Christmas Carroll” so he can watch the game.

But Sunday night he could be back in the game.

The Lakers play the Raptors Sunday at Staples Center. The call is Kobe’s — he was scheduled to go through another workout at the Lakers practice facility Friday — but at shootaround up in Sacramento Mike D’Antoni said this, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday night’s games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Friday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Kobe is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon — the Lakers need his offense but it will be interesting to see what Kobe they get. Nobody is quite the same after an Achilles injury, Chauncey Billups talked about not getting the same explosiveness back, but once he adjusts Kobe certainly brings an attacking mentality to a lagging offense.

We may see what it looks like Sunday night.