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How to replace Billups - ESPN INSIDER

How to replace Billups - ESPN INSIDER

It doesn't suggest anything other than JR Smith, but a good article on that front we've all been discussing at the very least. Also there was a section about the Nuggets replacing Gallinari but the article suggested nobody cause they are deep and wilson chandler will come back. The landscape in the Western Conference was altered by this week's injury news regarding the Denver Nuggets' Danilo Gallinari and Los Angeles Clippers' Chauncey Billups. Gallinari's ankle problems are supposed to sideline him for a month; Billups is definitely out for the rest of this season and may never play in the NBA again. Clippers Randy Foye will assume a larger role in Billups' absence. Depth has been an issue for the Clippers, but luckily for them that's a frontcourt problem only. L.A. had five quality guards on its roster before Billups went down, and now they have four. In terms of quantity, they should be fine. Unfortunately fit is a problem, and unlike Denver, the Clippers are probably going to have to go outside the organization to fill out their rotation. With Billups gone, Randy Foye steps into the starting lineup. Foye replaces Billups' size in the first unit, but leaves a pair of 6-foot-1 guys coming off the bench in Mo Williams and Eric Bledsoe. Nobody outside of Charlotte, N.C., would be crazy enough to play a backcourt that small for very long, and one of them is going have to play alongside six-footer Chris Paul from time to time. The Clippers have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for J.R. Smith once he finishes up his time in China. At 6-6, Smith could plug the size gap and may be a better option than Foye to play alongside Paul with the first group because he's a more consistent outside threat. That may seem like a strange statement given the streaky nature of Smith's game, but Foye has been maddeningly inconsistent during his up-and-down career, and the Clippers may not want to rely on him in a large role. Smith is a much better defender than Foye and his gambling ways might play well alongside Paul and in front of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin's athleticism. Not only can he provide the same floor spacing (but not playmaking) as Billups, but he can play heavy minutes and help deflect some of the defensive leak that occurs when Williams steps on the court. The Clippers are 10.4 points per 100 possessions worse defensively with Williams in the game, which is the primary reason Billups' plus/minus numbers have been so strong this season even though he was shooting worse than he has in about 11 seasons. Unfortunately, the Clippers have only the veteran's minimum to offer Smith after burning their mini midlevel exception last week on Kenyon Martin (remember our sermon about opportunity cost?). That doesn't necessarily rule out Smith for L.A. There might be no better way for Smith to showcase his ability before another summer of free agency than to play a big-time role on a contending team -- and make it work. He might be surrendering money in the short term, but if things go well in L.A., he'd be making it up down the line. Bradford Doolittle is an author for Basketball Prospectus. Follow him on Twitter here.
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