As Carmelo Anthony trade rumors reach a holding pattern, with the Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets reportedly at an impasse centered on the undesirable contracts of Al Harrington and Renaldo Balkman, the future of Chauncey Billups draws into some focus. Billups had always been peripheral to the 'Melo trade talks, until recently being pushed on stage as a part of the apparent package the Nets sought.
When just 'Melo and perhaps Harrington, Chris Andersen or J.R. Smith would be leaving the Nuggets, Billups could be considered a player that would stay in Denver -- his beloved hometown -- and finish his career quietly before transitioning to the franchise's front office. But now that he'd apparently headed to the Nets at some point, his relationship with the Nuggets and how much longer he plans to stick around the NBA are in flux.
Speaking to the media after the Nuggets' Monday practice, Anthony himself addressed Billups' future. From FanHouse's Chris Tomasson:
"The whole thing with the whole Chauncey situation, it's ... kind of hard for me to see him involved in that knowing what (the Nuggets) did to get him here in Denver, and knowing he's from Denver, knowing this is home and he represents the city of Denver," Anthony said. "To see him in all this stuff that's going on right now, I feel bad about it. But I guess that's just the business of basketball."
Billups' trade to the Nuggets was emotional, too; he, Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince reportedly commiserated and wept when Detroit traded Billups to Denver in 2008. In New Jersey, the guard would reportedly be reunited with Hamilton, but the circumstances for each are much different. Billups is now 34 years old, just a couple seasons away from the end of his NBA career. Hamilton is considered a payroll anchor; the Pistons will be dumping him on the Nets for the expiring contract of Troy Murphy, under the reported deal.
It remains unknown whether Billups is amenable to the trade. He really has little choice, as he'd on the books through next season. His agent Andy Miller made noise about demanding a buy-out over the weekend, but that seems to have softened. If Billups is not on board, SB Nation blog Denver Stiffs is nonplussed about the lack of loyalty shown by the Nuggets' new regime.
[W]hen you include a player who is loyal to the city of Denver and has expressed a desire to stay long term (even talking about joining the front office) it is very unseemly to cast aside him to just facilitate a trade that will subject the people of Denver to bad basketball for the foreseeable future. Chauncey is owed the right to determine his own future to some extent. This trade proposal is just cynical.
Don't you think Chauncey deserves better than that?
This, of course, gets into a discourse on the power structure of the NBA, where players are making incredible strides against teams, as expertly laid out by our own Andrew Sharp today.