When you take a step back and try to put it in perspective, it's a little mind-boggling. The Clippers have added three veterans to their roster in the last week, all of whom have made multiple All Star games. Caron Butler is already old news around here, even though his addition shores up what had appeared to be the Clippers' biggest off-season weakness. Chris Paul is the big news around here now - the biggest news ever.
But between signing Butler and trading for Paul, the Clippers also won the services of Chauncey Billups in the amnesty auction, the first and so far only player in NBA history to be claimed in that manner. That transaction occurred on Monday afternoon - and Billups spoke to the media as a Clipper for the first time today.
Billups was very public when he was first waived under the amnesty process: he wanted to control his own destiny, he did not want to be claimed by an under the cap bottom feeder, he was at a point in his career where he'd rather retire than help a team rebuild. Given his public stance on the matter, there was some concern that he would be disgruntled coming to the Clippers. Had he made it through the waiver process and become a free agent, he no doubt would have wound up in Miami playing point guard for the super-Heat. The other 14 teams in the Eastern Conference should have sent thank you notes to the Clippers for bidding on him to prevent that eventuality.
Today Billups says he's all in with the Clippers. "I'm not the kind of guy who has one foot in and one foot out... and I'm in. I'm all in." He was honest about the process he went through. He said it took him 3 or 4 days to work through his emotions. More than anything, the guy was clearly hurt by being waived. "You usually waive guys who are disruptions or who can't play. I'm not either of those." Bear in mind, Billups only ended up in New York because the Knicks wanted Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets took advantage of that transaction to get younger and start fresh. It's also worth noting that Billups was in Denver (his hometown) as a result of a trade for another high profile player, Allen Iverson. It's part of life in the NBA, but you can hardly blame Billups for feeling buffeted by forces he doesn't control.
Asked if he seriously considered retirement after finding out the Clippers had claimed him, he said he did. Then he went on to say that he was lucky that it was the Clippers that had claimed him, since they were serious about winning and are in a position to win now. Had another team claimed him, he might indeed have retired. Nonetheless, he feels he can still play at a high level for a number of years. He does not feel that his career is over from a basketball standpoint by any means.
Even if Chris Paul will be playing point guard for the Clippers, Billups doesn't consider himself an off-guard. He's a lead guard also, a playmaker, and he doesn't see any problem with that. With two such playmakers on the floor, the Clippers will be a very dangerous offensive team to be sure. The only issue with playing two "point guards" is on defense, where Billups is big enough to handle the vast majority of twos in the league. So I happen to agree with Chauncey on this one: the lack of a traditional shooting guard on this roster is not a big problem.
Billups will practice with the team for the first time tomorrow. As a 15 year vet with a championship and a Final MVP to his name, he'll be expected to be a major influence on the team. And along with Chris Paul, he'll form one of the best backcourts in the NBA.