Add one LeBron James, stir it into the pot and suddenly your city is the hottest destination for veteran free agents looking for a ring. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been linked to myriad high-profile names since their prodigal son returned, and it appears we can etch Chauncey Billups' name to that list.
ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst reported Wednesday that Billups was in Cleveland a day prior to meet with the Cavs, though the reasoning remains opaque:
Cavs did meet with Chauncey Billups. Just a visit, might turn into front office role down line, maybe player contract. Nothing imminent.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) August 6, 2014
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports reports how the workout went:
Chauncey Billups shot the ball very well in workout with Cavs & looked like he could still be a productive despite some rust, sources said.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) August 7, 2014
Billups, 37, suffered through a miserable season in 2013-14 in his one-season return to Detroit. The 2004 Finals MVP averaged a career-low 3.8 points and 2.2 assists per game on 30.4 percent shooting, appearing in only 19 games. Knee issues were the main culprit of Billups' absence, and there was talk he could retire after March surgery to repair his meniscus.
I assume that the Cavs met with Billups about a front office position because he was done as a player 3 years ago....— Brian Geltzeiler (@hoopscritic) August 6, 2014
Billups has played in just 61 games over the last three seasons due to myriad injury issues. A torn Achilles' tendon in 2012 turned into a cabal of injuries the following season and his knee bothered him for much of 2013-14. Expected to bring veteran leadership and floor spacing to a team in desperate need of both, Billups' body led to him failing in both regards.
The Pistons scuffled through their sixth consecutive season below the .500 mark and fifth without a playoff appearance. The team chose not to exercise its team option on Billups in June, allowing him to become a free agent.
Brian Geltzeiler of hoopscritic.com shared his thoughts on Billups' visit with the Cavs:
The Cavs have gone through the most transformative makeover of any team this summer, starting with James' surprise return on a two-year deal. The four-time league MVP came back to Cleveland after four years in Miami, leading to a flock of Heat retreads coming along. Mike Miller and James Jones were officially introduced this week, and numerous reports have linked Ray Allen to Cleveland.
ESPN's Marc Stein noted earlier this week that veteran forward Shawn Marion is also leaning toward joining the Cavs. All these aging players attempting to nudge their way into the Cavaliers rotation may create a logjam, though Cleveland's next big move may help unload some of that depth. The Cavs are widely expected to trade for Timberwolves forward Kevin Love later this month, using a package highlighted by Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett.
“Anything we do will be about those big rocks,” general manager David Griffin said, per Waiting for Next Year's Scott Sargent. “We’re going to continue to surround ourselves with the right type of people. We’re always trying to get better."
Losing Wiggins would theoretically open up a spot at backup shooting guard. The Cavs will also likely be using the non-guaranteed contracts of John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy as salary filler to facilitate a deal. As it stands, no future moves are likely from Cleveland because the roster stands at 15 players.
A Love deal in which multiple players are sent out would free space for Billups, Marion, Allen or whoever else desires a shot at a ring. LeBron's presence allows the Cavs the opportunity to pick and choose their veteran poison.
If it comes down to two of the three between Allen, Marion and Billups, the latter may be left out in the cold. Billups might want to hope Allen's flirtation with retirement comes to fruition over the next few weeks. Otherwise, his future employment may be in the front office whether that was the plan for 2014 or not.
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