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Billups Discusses Future With Nuggets

November 22, 2010

Nuggets veteran point guard Chauncey Billups talks about his wishes and needs in the franchise. I can see Billups in the front office but the hefty $14 million salary might be too big of a margin. If and when the Nuggets ship Melo, expect Billups bags to begin to pack as well.

From Denver Post:

OAKLAND, Calif. — Arguably the greatest talent in Nuggets’ history could be traded.

The Nuggets’ coach, who has a .616 winning percentage with Denver, is in the last year of his contract.

Same goes for a few key players with expiring (and potentially movable) contracts.

Oh, man, there’s a lot going on with the ol’ powder blue . . . which makes folks forget that Chauncey Billups is in a tricky spot too.

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 (Anthony), 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 returned to Denver in the 2008-09 season and help lead his hometown team to the Western Conference finals. He has been an all-star in each of the past five seasons, but this season, as he seeks rhythm after resting in some of the preseason games, he averages just 13.8 points per game. He’s expected to play tonight at Golden State after a scary fall on his face Saturday, which resulted in a broken nose.

Ideally, Billups wants to play for the Nuggets for another half-decade and then transition into a front-office role. But will he even be a Nugget come March?

Denver execs Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri have so much on their plates that they need additional plates. But it’s understood, through conversations with people throughout the league, that a decision on Anthony is the primary domino for the Nuggets. It’s quite possible Denver could trade the superstar to a big-market team. Generally, when franchises trade a franchise player, it sets that franchise back half-a-decade. But for a guy like Billups, “rebuilding” might as well be spelled with four letters.

“I don’t want to rebuild. They know that and I don’t think that they want to do that,” Billups said. “I’ve had some conversations with Josh and Masai. I think that they want to win. I don’t think they’re looking (to rebuild and then try) to win 6, 7 years down the line. I don’t have that kind of time. Hopefully Melo is here, but if he’s not, whatever move they make, or whoever they get, will come in here and get us winning right now. If they want to (rebuild), that’s another conversation that we’ve got to have.”

Even though Billups called November “my training camp” as he seeks to find his rhythm, there is some concern in Denver about his shot and his shot selection — he’s shooting 34.4 percent in the early season. But opposing coaches, such as the Nets’ Avery Johnson, believe that “he’s still Mr. Big Shot. He knows what he’s doing, very experienced. He’s still dangerous.”

And as for Billups, his confidence is as high as it was in the backcourts in Park Hill, Boulder and Auburn Hills: “I have some great years left, playing on a high, high level. I hope that’s here. If not, I’ll play at a high level wherever I’m at.”

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