Today, the New York Knicks announced they would exerciser the one-year, $14.2 million team option on starting point guard Chauncey Billups (ESPN News Link).
This move for the Knicks is merely a formality. It would’ve been a stunning move if the Knicks didn’t pick up the option on Billups for three reasons.
The first, Chauncey Billups would have been the best available point guard on the open market. Via free agency, the Knicks wouldn’t have been able to upgrade from the 34-year old veteran. Also, Billups has obvious chemistry with star forward Carmelo Anthony and has a head start towards having the same type of chemistry with the teams other star, Amar’e Stoudemire.
Second, Billups serves as the ultimate teacher to young, developing guard Toney Douglas. Players from the Team USA roster that won the World Championship last summer, including the likes of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Andre Igoudala, raved about the knowledge and education they received from working with Billups throughout the summer. The same type of knowledge could potentially be transferred to Douglas, who showed signs of becoming a promising point guard both defensively and offensively with his range as a shooter and slasher mentality.
Third, and maybe most important, by picking up the one year option, Billups not only stabilizes the position at the point for next year, but he becomes a valuable trade chip heading into the next season. Teams value expiring contracts throughout the league nearly as much as they value talent. It is no secret that the Knicks front office dreams of having three stars that could match up with the stars down in South Beach. And the “third star” that Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire have been trumpeting for more than any other is New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul. You need not look further than the job Paul is doing against the much more talented Los Angeles Lakers in this year’s playoffs to understand his talent and abilities.
If the Knicks wish to acquire Paul before he hits the open market, the team will need to come up with the best offer available. An offer including the $14.2 million expiring contract, which will be wiped off of the Hornets books completely to open up massive amounts of salary cap space, is one of the most enticing available. Not to mention, Billups is still an able-bodied player that doesn’t represent a massive decrease in ability from Paul. Paul is the better of the two, but that doesn’t mean Billups is terrible.
However, it will take more than Billups to acquire someone with the skill set of Chris Paul. Later this week, we will cover exactly what it will take to get the desired third star playing in New York for the long term.
For now, this is the best move the New York Knicks could possibly make.