Chauncey Billups and Achilles Tendons

I'm not a doctor, but I am a Clippers fan. And, as it happens, I've also ruptured an Achilles tendon in my mid-30s.

Watching the replay of Chauncey's injury, I knew immediately it was the Achilles. It's the classic Achilles injury -- pushing off moving forward, like you're coming out of the starter's blocks in a sprint. In Chauncey's case he was changing directions, backpedaling and then trying to quickly move forward after a lose ball. The way his foot was extended, the way he went down, it was all too familiar. Yup, that's an Achilles injury.

But is it a strain or a tear? If it's a tear, is it a full tear or a partial tear? These things we won't know for certain until tomorrow. But players know their bodies, and if the mood in the Clippers locker room was as grim as reported, then Chauncey likely knows already that he's done for the season -- at least.

It's a shame for Chauncey, and for the Clippers, but it also happens to be at the position at which the Clippers can most afford an injury. Think about it. Obviously, the team can ill afford to lose either Chris Paul or Blake Griffin. Meanwhile, DeAndre Jordan is the only true big on the team, not to mention that they've been thin up front all season. And we know what the alternatives to Caron Butler at small forward look like. On the other hand, the team is deep at the guard, and the simple solution in the short term is to slot Randy Foye into the starting lineup, and continue to bring Mo Williams off the bench. Is Foye a downgrade from Billups? Sure. But statistically, not as much as you might think so far this season. Overall, it moves Caron Butler up a notch in the pecking order, leaving Foye as the fourth option on offense, which is about where he should be. Meanwhile, Vinny Del Negro now knows that Mo Williams is part of the lineup that closes games, rather than having to decide between Williams and Billups on a nightly basis.

If the Clippers really want J.R. Smith (which I'm not convinced is a great idea), this might even help get him here. New York could have unquestionably offered him a bigger role before Billups went down -- now, suddenly, J.R. could be looking at starting next to his former teammate Chris Paul. And at least with Smith they Clippers would be adding some size on the wing.

I feel sorry for Billups if this injury is as bad as I suspect it is. He's been a pro's pro his entire career, and it would be a shame if it were to end this way. We'll see what comes of the MRI tomorrow, and go from there. Regardless, Billups will be a big part of this team moving forward, as a de facto additional assistant coach if not as a player.

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