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The "Chauncey to Denver" question

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Considering Chauncey Billups suggested to the Grizzlies' media that he'd consider signing with Memphis this summer, it's probably inevitable that the question would come up with his hometown Nuggets. From the Denver Post:

"Look, when the time comes, I'm going to have to consider my options," Billups said Thursday during a telephone conversation on the eve of a game in Denver. "Of course I think about my future in the league. It's my future. Why wouldn't I think about it?"

What better choice for Billups to make his permanent basketball home than Denver, where he was born?

Billups would be receptive to the idea of a sign-and-trade deal that could land him with the Nuggets, according to agent Andy Miller, who represents the 10th-year veteran.

Does this mean that he's going to leave? Hardly. His actual quote simply says he's going to "consider his options," which are code words for, "pay me and I'm yours." Since Dumars has already alluded that he'll give Billups a max contract if necessary, this probably isn't an issue.

Unless Dumars changes his mind.

I like Chauncey as much as the next guy, if not more, but I'm not 100% convinced he's a max-contract type player. Unless there's a plan in place to make the transition from the current core to the next generation of players, it's awfully risky to commit that much money to a guy who'll be 31 years old at the start of the new contract. Granted, it's just as risky in the short-term to let him leave without securing an adequate replacement, so the Pistons may have no choice but to overpay him unless they're willing to close the current window of opportunity for an NBA title after this season. But I digress ...

What this post is really about is Chauncey's perceived interest in the Nuggets. Yes, it's his hometown, but it's also a franchise that already gave up on him once before, trading him after just 58 games over two years (1998-2000 seasons). From the Post:

"Of all my tough times in basketball, that was for real my darkest day in the NBA. To get traded from my hometown, that hurt my heart," said Billups, who recently put down new roots in Colorado by starting an investment company with his brother.

Once upon a time last year, Ian and I discussed whether Chauncey might bolt for a chance to return home, but that was before the Nuggets' cap situation became so completely FUBAR following Carmelo Anthony's extension and Allen Iverson's acquisition. These days, all the Nugz could really offer in a sign-and-trade is Marcus Camby or Nene. Detroit's front court will thin out this summer with the likely departure of Dale Davis and the potential departure of Chris Webber, but making a move for an expensive big man like Camby or Nene would be putting another obstacle in the paths of Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson, which goes against everything Pistons fans have been calling for and expecting.

In other words, it's a pipe dream for the Denver Post to even talk about it. Chauncey is only going along with the idea to better his bargaining position this summer, which he essentially admits when comparing himself to Vince Carter, this summer's other high-profile free agent:

"Vince Carter is an exciting player. I can't do all the high-wire stuff he does. That's not my game. He can get 30 points in his sleep. He's the sexy player on the free-agent market," Billups said. "But, if you ask me, the two most important positions in basketball are center and point guard. When you've got a chance to get one of the best point guards in the league, I hope some people will take a look at that."

"I hope some people will take a look at that" = "I hope Joe Dumars realizes other people want to pay me, too." The ball's still in Detroit's court.

Billups' dues to pay off [Denver Post via FanHouse]