By Michael Tapia — Denver native and Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups has recently declared his desire to remain with the team. He is looking to play for as long as his body allows, while then moving into an executive role with the ballclub.
Despite Billups’ interest in staying with the team, many questions remain unsolved. The biggest question of all is the future of Denver’s biggest star in recent history – Carmelo Anthony after rejecting a contract extension. With the expected reforms to the CBA agreement, many wonder what the future holds for many pending free agents. As Billups isn’t too fond of being on a rebuilding team, where would it leave the Nuggets if Carmelo Anthony walks away upon his contract expiring?
Billups has stated that he wants to win, “I don’t want to rebuild. They know that and I don’t think that they want to do that,” Billups said. Naturally, Billups, 34, does not want to spend his last three or four good years and last five or six years of his career rebuilding. With Carmelo who is the face of the Nuggets not signing a $65 million extension and probably not being able to earn the same amount under the future CBA, what does that say about his future in Denver? Can we say that Carmelo’s lack of interest in such a lucrative contract and willingness to take less money under the new CBA translates to his departure? If so, how does this affect the Nuggets chances of winning and what effect will this have on Billups? Without Melo, do the Nuggets have a serious shot at the title is what everyone and Billups would ask themselves. The answer is no.
“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.”
If Melo decides to test his luck in free agency and take his talent elsewhere, will the Nuggets start building a team around Billups? Let us not forget that another key member of this team, JR Smith will become a free agent at the end of this season and the same applies for big man Kenyon Martin. Nene Hilario has an $11.6 million player option but because of the CBA he will pick it up. Should Melo depart, will JR Smith and Kenyon Martin want to stay in Denver and if they don’t, would Billups want to stay?
The Nuggets control Billups’ future through at least next year with a $14.2 million team option, but is it going to be worth keeping him with a depleted roster? Is he going to stay beyond the 2011-2012 season or are the Nuggets better off trading him for younger talent?
With so many questions surrounding the Nuggets this season how easy is it for Billups to make a decision? If Melo leaves to New York like it has been rumored, can we see Billups following him to the Knicks in perhaps a deal that includes Danilo Gallinari and Toney Douglas? Only time will tell about this