If Carmelo Anthony is gone, is Chauncey Billups far behind?

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Thumbnail image for canthony_billups.jpgIf you’re going to blow up the team and rebuild — and it appears the Denver Nuggets hand has been forced in that regard — then you do it right. Go all the way down to the foundation. Spare nothing.

Which is to say, if the Denver Nuggets are trading Carmelo Anthony (and J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin) then what is the point of keeping Chauncey Billups?

Billups will turn 34 next season, which is not ideal for rebuilding but great for a team needing one more piece to make a run. Billups is still at the top of his game — he averaged 19.6 points and 5.6 assists per game last year, had a PER of 20.2 and a true shooting percentage of .601. Which is to say, your eyes don’t deceive you, he is still one of the top handful of point guards around. He’s a five-time All-Star (including last year) with a ring and a finals MVP award.

And he is an expiring contract, sort of. Billups is owed $13.2 million this season but his $14.2 million for next season is not guaranteed, so he can be bought out at a fair price. That will be attractive to teams who may not want to take on the long-term commitment or teams that want to win now and are willing to give up a young player for a playoff proven vet.

There has been no talk of trading Billups and he has not asked to be traded. Denver may want to keep him this season and buy him out next year for the cap savings themselves. This is all speculation.

But if they are looking for young players and picks, you’d have to think some team would pay handsomely for Billups. They have to consider moving him at the trade deadline pretty seriously.