With the New Jersey Nets in Denver to play the Nuggets over the weekend, it’s no surprise that the two teams’ front-office execs met up to talk about Carmelo Anthony.
But while the drama sorts itself out, Denver fans may want to prepare themselves for the possibility of losing their other Olympic gold medalist, multiple-time All-Star and the only guy on the roster with an NBA Finals MVP trophy at home: Chauncey Billups. From the Denver Post:
The all-star Denver point guard — and proud Denver native — is due to make a hefty $14.2 million next season, but the team can buy him out after this season for just $3.7 million, making him a free agent. Also, a league source confirmed that several teams have inquired about trading for Billups. And so, the new-look Nuggets’ front office will soon have to make a decision about Billups, the 34-year-old vet and the mentor to up-and-coming point guard Ty Lawson.
In a revealing interview, Billups repeatedly said he understands the business of basketball and that the new collective bargaining agreement, which could reduce the amount of money players make, has teams hesitant to extend contracts. But when asked about whether he wants a contract extension, Billups said: “Sure, absolutely. I never want to leave here again. I want to be a Nugget for the rest of my career, whether that’s four, five years, whatever. They know that.
“But I also know the business of basketball. Nothing really surprises me in this game. People talk about Carmelo, the possibility of me being moved, the J.R. (Smith) situation — there are a lot of uncertainties around here. I don’t like being part of the uncertainty. But that’s what it is, that’s the nature of the beast. I’ve been down the road. . . .
“I know how this business goes. I respect the process. At the same time, I know what I’ve done to change the culture around here. I’m not a me-me guy, but I know the position of the state of the franchise before I got here. I hope that doesn’t go unappreciated.”
Billups is too old and too good to get stuck on a rebuilding Nuggets squad. He was brought back home in ’08 to be the missing ingredient to a championship recipe, not the juicy Thanksgiving turkey on a table surrounded by SPAM and stale cashews. But if ‘Melo gets traded, Denver will presumably go into rebuilding mode, unless they manage to get another veteran All-Star caliber player in return for ‘Melo.
Chauncey’s contract may be unattractive for the team considering he’s 34 years old and shooting 34 percent from the field this year as the team struggles with ‘Melo in the lineup. And his backup, Lawson, has had times where he is the best player on the court for the Nuggets — like when he sparked the fourth quarter run that helped Denver to its biggest win of the season so far, against the Lakers on national TV. But any chance this franchise has of keeping their youngster superstar absolutely involves keeping their older superstar.
What do you think? If you’re running the Nuggets, would you listen to trade offers for Billups?