Chauncey Billups is in.
He threatened retirement if someone he didn’t like picked him up on waivers after the Knicks used the amnesty rule on him (to free up room for Tyson Chandler). The Clippers took a chance and submitted a bid on him.
At his introductory press conference, Billups said he was in and gave a backhanded compliment to the Clippers (as reported at ESPNLosAngeles.com).
“I’m a Clipper, and I’m happy to be here. It could have been much worse. This is a really good situation. I think these guys are ready to take the next leap and I think I can be a part of that.”
The Clippers backcourt is going to be an interesting mix — Billups reiterated that he is a point guard, but even the five-time All Star is the second best PG on this team now thanks to Chris Paul. This is going to make the Clippers kind of a two-pronged attack, two guys who can run the pick-and-roll as ball handler, but with Billups playing more off the ball. (One would assume, but coach Vinny Del Negro tried to have Derrick Rose play off the ball more in Chicago, so we’re not going to put anything past him.)
What Billups said is that after all this he just wants to be settled, as Eric Pincus passed along at Hoopsworld.
“To be honest, it’s been a really long last year for me,” said Billups. “The whole Melo-drama in Denver and going from that and getting traded, when I never really thought I would be; and then embracing that whole situation in New York, going through the lockout which was strenuous and then coming back and just being waived was something that I never thought was going to happen.”
Billups admitted he contemplated retirement, but really he didn’t want to walk away from the game.
The Clippers are a young team that can be very, very good in a couple years if they learn how to win (and if Clippers management brings in good role players). Billups knows what it takes to get there, how to win, how play in the big moments this team is going to start to see. He can speed up the learning curve. It’s just one of the reasons this is a great get for the Clippers.
And Billups is in.
On draft night, the Suns traded the No. 16 pick and the Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick to the 76ers for No. 10 pick Mikal Bridges. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander went to the Clippers with the No. 11 pick (via the Hornets).
Phoenix is now an NBA-worst 5-24 and lacks even a decent point guard.
Bob Young of The Athletic:
It’s worth noting that the Suns wouldn’t be in this fix if Robert Sarver, the club’s managing partner, had not reportedly overruled his then-general manager, Ryan McDonough, on draft night.
McDonough reportedly planned to package the club’s pick from Milwaukee and a player taken with the 16th pick to move up and draft Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a point guard from Kentucky.
When Philadelphia offered the rights to Mikal Bridges for the rights to Zhaire Smith and Miami’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick, Sarver pushed for that deal. So the Suns moved up six spots to add their fourth young wing player.
I didn’t like the trade the Suns made. I ranked Bridges No. 6 on my draft board, and he’s having a fine rookie year. But part of Bridges’ appeal was his NBA-readiness. Phoenix isn’t good enough to take advantage of that. The Heat pick is also too valuable.
McDonough’s preferred trade would have been better. The Bucks pick – 1-3 and 17-30 protected, in 2019, 1-7 protected in 2020, unprotected in 2021 – is less valuable than the Miami pick. Gilgeous-Alexander has looked promising in L.A.
Importantly, Gilgeous-Alexander would have given the Suns a much-needed point guard.
As owner, Sarver can step in where he sees fit. It’s his team after all. But this makes it all the more ludicrous he fired McDonough shortly before the season due, in part, to not having a quality point guard.
That said, if Gilgeous-Alexander were struggling, I’m not sure we’d hear this story. Only the near-hits, never the near-misses, get leaked.
Kevin Durant doesn’t know what Kevin Durant is going to do next summer.
It is entirely possible he chooses to remain a Golden State Warrior, on a team that has dominated the West since his arrival and remains the clear favorite to win it all again (despite some stumbles early in the season). Plus, they can offer more money than any other team.
That’s not what is expected around the league — most sources think he is bolting. Where is unknown — the Clippers and the Knicks are the most mentioned but the Lakers and other teams come up — but the consensus is he will be in a new jersey next season.
Former teammate David West is in the first camp, as he told Steinmetz and Guru on 95.7 the Game, the Warriors radio flagship.
Kevin Durant is not the most decisive person in the world — what he thinks about free agency today may not be what he’s going to think about it in a week, or a month. Or, more importantly, next July.
West doesn’t see what others do, but then again West left $11 million on the table to chase a ring. He’s not the norm that way. His biases may cloud what he expects from the superstar.
Durant is having another in-the-MVP-conversation season, averaging 28.9 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game, and he carried the team while Stephen Curry was out. Durant is the two-time Finals MVP and in the conversation for the best player on the planet. There are 29 teams that would bend over backward to get him on their roster.
What Durant wants in the mystery. Maybe West is right.
The Bulls are reportedly pulling Jabari Parker from their regular rotation.
That might spell the end of Parker in Chicago.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Parker is having a dismal season. His defense has been as advertised. He’s shooting a lot and inefficiently and turning the ball over too much.
He’s also earning $20 million this season, which will make matching salary in a trade difficult.
At least Parker is on a de facto expiring contract. (His $20 million team option for next season will surely be declined.) His contract could help facilitate a trade. Maybe the Bulls deal him for an unwanted player with a multi-year guarantee plus sweeteners. Chicago is far enough from winning that punting 2019 cap space for draft picks and young players makes sense.
Parker is just 23 and talented. While his expiring contract is likely to be the central appeal of any trade, his potential is higher than the typical player in such a deal. That only helps his value.
The Bulls won’t get much for Parker. He’s not even good enough to play on their lousy team. But both sides are probably ready to move on, and maybe they can make it happen.
Parker and his agent know how to work their way out of undesirable situations.
When Joakim Noah signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Knicks in 2016, his father – former tennis star Yannick Noah – boasted about how well his son would fit in New York:
“He knows the city,” Yannick Noah said. “He was born here. It’s not like he’s coming from the countryside and he’s coming to New York City. He lived here for a long time. Of course, it can be dangerous for an athlete. But he knows and he’s so motivated. It’s a great opportunity for him. He’s going to give all he has for the city.”
Noah played terribly, got suspended for taking a banned substance and feuded with his coach. Before this season, the Knicks cut him, preferring to pay him out than have him continue to occupy a roster spot.
Noah, who previously played for the Bulls, signed with the Grizzlies. He’s now addressing what went wrong in New York.
Noah on the Chris Vernon Show:
I could look back on it and say I thought I was ready for New York City, but I wasn’t. And it’s something that I’ve got to live with.
Not just the pressure. I remember after the first game, I probably had, like, 60 people in my house. I’m too lit. I’m too lit to play in New York City. I’m too lit to play in New York City. Memphis is perfect for me.
We were lit in Chicago, but I was young. So, you recover faster, you know? You recover faster.
I respect the honesty. Not many players would have revealed so much about their partying.
But I’m also not convinced a smaller market will fix Noah.
The 33-year-old might just be too worn down to help an NBA team.