When Chauncey Billups went down with an achilles injury last season, we all knew it would be tough for him to recover. Mr. Big shot was still playing very effective basketball for the Clippers as the starting 2 guard; through 20 games he was averaging 15 points, shooting 38% from three, and getting to the free throw line better than 5 times a game. Clips nation was hopeful that he would be able to return and resume his role as the Clippers floor spreader in the starting lineup but various injuries and, well, his age, prevented that from happening. Billups played Just 22 games in the regular season in 2013 and never really looked like himself for any consistent amount of time.
Billups worked his way back for the playoff series against the Grizzlies, but unfortunately, was not able to contribute significantly, and at times appeared to be hurting the team more than helping. The 5 time all-star and Finals MVP (and perhaps one of the best players of the last decade) was a defensive liability against the grizzlies (no longer able to defend the pg guard position and undersized against the likes of Tony Allen), and was a non factor on Offense. It is difficult to say how much of his play was rust vs diminishing skillset/athletic ability.
Leadership and confidence, free throw shooting and three point shooting. Chauncey is a crafty, savvy veteran who is not afraid to let it go from beyond the arc. Before the injury last season Billups was still getting to the free throw line almost 5 times a game despite having clearly lost a step or two. A great knowledge of the game, and by all accounts a great "locker room guy."
Before I criticize Billups I will say that I think it would be difficult for any player coming off of an achilles injury (and then battling additional injuries for a full season) to come back and play well. This is even more difficult for a 36 year old who should be experiencing a natural decline in athletic ability. Whatever the reason, the Billups we saw this season was rather one dimensional offensively, with 4 of every 6 shots hoisted from beyond the arc (and almost 8 3-pt attempts per 36 minutes). These shots often come in transition or early in the shot clock, something he was fantastic at doing for so many years, but which often seemed ill-advised in his limited minutes in 2013. Chauncey did not show an inclination/ability to get into the lane, draw fouls and finish with contact (Chauncey for his career averaged about 1/3 of his points from the free throw line). Defensively, any player coming off of an achilles injury might struggle to guard their position, but Billups also happens to be a 36 year old playing out of his natural position. Against Memphis, Billups was a defensive liability, and the Grizzlies too advantage when he was on the floor.
Future with the Clippers:
Chauncey is a free agent, and while there has been some speculation that he could return as the backup point guard if Eric Bledsoe is dealt, it is more likely that he will not be a part of the teams plans going forward. It seems like too great of a risk to invest in a player his age with his recent injuries to play such a critical role. If Billups is happy to play a role similar to that which Grant Hill played this season, he could stay on as end of the rotation player on a near minimum salary, but it seems unlikely. Billups probably does have enough left in the tank for a relatively productive bench role while playing coach on the bench/floor for the right team. Wherever he ends up we wish him the best, he is a big time NBA player and the Clippers were lucky to have him a part of their franchise for these last two seasons.