Despite experiencing some success early in the 2010-11 NBA season, Chauncey Billups and the Denver Nuggets (8-6, tied for seventh in the Western Conference) continue to be hounded by trade rumors.
And so long as Carmelo Anthony holds off signing the $65 million contract extension which the Nuggets offered him prior to the start of the season—making it clear that he wants to leave—the speculation will continue.
If (or when) Melo departs from Denver, the organization, after losing their franchise player, will most likely attempt to undergo a drastic roster overhaul.
So far, the Nuggets have made it clear that they have sought to trade their talented, but often troubled guard J.R. Smith.
And although they have had no takers thus far, his contract expires at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season, so his days as a Nugget look to be numbered.
Another disgruntled Nugget with an expiring contract is Kenyon Martin, who has yet to play a game so far this season due to a knee injury.
Furthermore, like Smith, this may be K-Mart's last year in Denver, especially since he publicly criticized Nuggets' management for giving his money to Al Harrington this past offseason.
So with Smith and Martin likely leaving the team after the 2010-11 season, and 2011 unrestricted free agents Nene, Anthony Carter and Shelden Williams possibly joining them, we may very well see a drastically different, rebuilding Nuggets squad.
So where does this leave Billups?
Well, a 34-year-old point guard on a rebuilding team makes little sense—especially when he is set to make $14.2 million in 2011-12 (when the new CBA could limit the salary cap).
Moreover, Denver may be persuaded to rid themselves of Billups to make room for their young and promising sophomore point, Ty Lawson.
Nevertheless, Billups, a Denver native who played collegiately at Colorado, recently stated his desire to remain a Nugget for the rest of his career, even declaring an openness to join their front office in the future.
Additionally, he opined that he did not think the team would look to rebuild if Anthony were traded.
However, this all just appears to be wishful thinking, similar to when he previously professed that he was 100 percent hopeful that Anthony would resign with the Nuggets.
But if that is the case, what will happen to Billups?
First of all, Denver has a $3.7 million buyout clause on his contract following the season, so they could easily cut him loose.
However, letting a talented veteran point guard walk, while getting nothing in return, would be incredibly wasteful and inefficient.
Therefore, it seems that the more likely scenario would be that Billups would be traded to a contender, and should he pursue such a trade, there is no shortage of such teams seeking a proven lead guard.
The most obvious one would be the Atlanta Hawks, who could likely provide some decent young players (Jeff Teague, Marvin Williams, Jordan Crawford) and draft picks, along with some expiring contracts in an exchange for Billups filling their PG void and pushing them over the top.
Additionally, teams seeking a simple upgrade or some veteran leadership, like the Portland Trail Blazers, could go after Billups, while also providing young talent and picks.
Even the Miami Heat could make a run at him, as his experience and outside shooting could do wonders for their squad.
Yet, judging by his statements this year, it seems that Billups would probably just as soon remain in Denver and deal with all of the post-Melo losing, seeing as though he has already established his winning legacy (five-time NBA All-Star, NBA Champion and NBA Finals MVP).
Consequently, Billups' best chance to stay with the Nuggets would center around his electing to renegotiate his current contract, thereby allowing him to remain in his hometown for the rest of his career, while serving as the mentor to the rebuilding Nuggets.
But regardless of what happens, one can't help but wish the best for Chauncey Billups—the Olympic Gold Medalist, positive role model (winner of both the NBA's sportsmanship and community service awards) and all-around exemplary NBA player.