Pistons decline team option on Chauncey Billups

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Chauncey Billups was not a Piston long enough.

The Pistons traded him for Allen Iverson in 2008, quickly sinking themselves from title contention. Though the deal had merit at the time, hindsight says Detroit absolutely should have kept Billups and co. together and let the championship core age and decline naturally.

After resurging with his hometown Nuggets and then bouncing to the Knicks and Clippers, Billups signed with the Pistons last summer. The two-year deal contained a $2.5 million team option that became a no-brainer to decline by today’s deadline.

I’d like to think the Pistons waited until so late in the day to announce it so Billups would remain on team just a little longer. But they couldn’t delay forever.

Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

Billups missed 169 games the last three years. There was no way the Pistons could justify keeping him at $2.5 million.

Brandon Jennings, flaws and all, is substantially better. Will Bynum is an OK enough backup. Even Peyton Siva contributes more now.

Billups can’t even get on the court. There’s no room for him as Detroit’s fourth point guard.

This is quite possibly the end of Billups’ playing career, but he could remain in basketball after retirement.

Billups is bright and balances keeping a level head with with an intense competitiveness. Everyone agrees he’d make a good coach. He doesn’t want to pursue that path, though. He wants a front-office job.

He returned to Detroit to retire and move into management, but the man who signed him, Joe Dumars, is no longer in power.

Is there room for Billups in Stan Van Gundy’s organization?

If there is, I bet Billups would be interested. If Dumars lands a new job elsewhere, Billups could fit there, too.

He’s played for eight teams – the Celtics, Raptors, Nuggets (twice), Magic, Timberwolves, Pistons (twice), Knicks and Clippers. He certainly has connections around the league.

If Billups really wants to keep playing, I bet he could get a veteran-minimum deal somewhere next season. At worst, he’s a great locker-room presence. Someone would value that and hope Billups can make a few spot-up 3-pointers.

But even that leadership role carries less weight when he can’t get on the court. This is probably the end of the line for the 37-year-old Billups.

As a player and executive, Billups is heading into free agency. That could be either very sad or very exciting, depending on which way Billups wants to go.

Arizona State leading scoring Remy Martin declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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Arizona State junior Remy Martin has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The six-foot point guard took on more of scoring role in his third season with the Sun Devils than he had in his first two seasons. Martin averaged 19.1 points per game on 43.2% shooting from the field. Martin also dished out 4.1 assists per game, after averaging 5.0 assists as a sophomore.

Arizona State’s leading scoring may just be testing the waters, as he’s expected to go undrafted. NBA scouts have concerns over Martin’s size at the NBA level. One concern is his ability to hold up defensively, as NBA point guards are trending bigger and bigger in recent years.

As a smaller guard, Martin was one of the players who could have benefited from the traditional pre-draft process. With in-person workouts on hold, and potentially cancelled entirely, players have limited opportunities to improve their draft stock. Teams may be drafting off previous in-person scouting and off of tape.

NBA players reportedly to take part in televised NBA 2K tournament Friday

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If we can’t watch NBA players on the court, at least we can watch them control their digital selves and teammates in a live basketball tournament.

ESPN plans to broadcast an NBA 2K tournament with only NBA players at the controllers, a story broken by Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports. The hope is to have it air Friday, with the players competing from their homes around the country.

The NBA is planning a players-only NBA 2K tournament that will feature the league’s sharpest video gamers and it will be broadcast on ESPN, league sources told Yahoo Sports…

Players competing against their peers in the comfort of their own homes could offer a distraction for fans who are missing the game and a little competition.

Esports are incredibly popular and growing as a spectator sport, both in person and on Twitch and other platforms. With there being a pent-up demand for sports programming, this seems a smart attempt to draw eyeballs. Even people who are non-esports viewers could tune in just to check it out, because it’s that or rewatching Tiger King.

You can bet that if it works, we will see a lot more of it in the future.

(Inside baseball note: I would love to see the emails/texts flying around ESPN about Yahoo breaking a story about what is coming in their network.)

 

Shaquille O’Neal: I had no idea what was happening with Joe Exotic of Tiger King

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On a recent episode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq” former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal said that “he had no idea” what was happening at the zoo run by Joe Exotic. Joe Exotic was recently made famous through the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”.

Footage of O’Neal appeared in the first episode of the show and was shown taking photographs with the animals.

The documentary also showed a cut of O’Neal on TNT saying “Shoutout to Exotic Joe. I got two more tigers.”

On his podcast, O’Neal explained:

“So we go in there, and it’s a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe. We’re there and I dropped some donations for the tigers’ foods and all that. We take pictures with (the) tigers. We went back a couple times. Then we go back another time and we found out that he’s involved with all the stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going.”

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, was sentenced to 22 years in prison after being found guilty of 19 different charges. Those charges included murder-for-hire plot, illegally selling endangered species and other animal-related offenses.

O’Neal clarified that he never bought any animals, but often donates to charities that help animals. He also made it clear that he’s not friends with Joe Exotic, nor anyone involved in the trade of endangered species.

“I don’t harm tigers,” O’Neal said. “I love tigers. I love white tigers. Do I put donations to these zoos to help these tigers out? I do it all the time. Do I own tigers personally at my house? No. But I love tigers. Listen, people are going to make their own opinions, but, again, I was just a visitor. I met this guy — not my friend. Don’t know him. Never had any business dealings with him, and I had no idea any of that stuff was going on.”

Report: Brooklyn Nets looking to hire a blue-chip head coach

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When the Brooklyn Nets and Kenny Atkinson parted ways in early-March, the team installed Jacque Vaughn as the interim head coach.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that’s a short-term appointment. On his podcast “Brian Windhorst and The Hoop Collective”, the reporter said the Nets are looking to hire a coach with a track record of NBA success.

“One of the things that has been expressed sort of the grapevine, that’s the way I’m going to say it to protect myself from the aggregators, is that Durant and Irving would like a blue-chip coach. I don’t know what this says about the way they thought about Atkinson, but they want a big-name coach.”

Names linked to the Brooklyn opening are Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson, and both Jeff and Stan Van Gundy.

Atkinson leaving Brooklyn was a surprise, considering he had led the Nets back to the playoffs in 2019. That success came after a three-year rebuild. That process was kicked off when general manager Sean Marks hired Atkinson to lead the on-court development. Under Marks and Atkinson, the Nets developed several players who had been given up on by other teams.

Brooklyn was 28-34 when Atkinson was let go. The Nets had gone 2-0 under Vaughn before the NBA suspended play in mid-March.