New York Knicks: If Chauncey Billups Leaves, Which 2011 FA Do They Pursue?

Vin GetzCorrespondent IApril 7, 2011

New York Knicks: If Chauncey Billups Leaves, Which 2011 FA Do They Pursue?

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    MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Chauncey Billups #4 of the New York Knicks shoots a foul shot during a game gainst the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 27, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by do
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Chauncey Billups' thick contract file is definitely a bit dog-eared.  Knicks management has taken it in and out of the cabinet a few times just in the past month.

    First, the Knicks were so high on Chauncey that they were not only going to pick up the option, but were considering an extension past 2012.

    Hold on.  Just a few days later, the extension talk evaporated and was replaced at least with a verbal guarantee that the team would pick up Billups' option for 2011-12.

    Before you know it, that dissipated along with Knicks' victories.  On March 27th, at the tail end of New York's recent 1-9 streak, James Dolan, Donnie Walsh & Co. ran in another direction.  Now, it looked like the Knicks would buy the point guard out for $3 million at the end of the season and put the money towards getting a desperately-needed big man.

    Hold on again. The Knicks have won five in a row now, barely escaping Philadelphia last night as New York saw a late double-digit lead dwindle to a deficit after Billups left the game with a bruise.

    What to do? What to do?

    The 34-year-old Billups is still good enough to wonder if anyone available is good enough to replace him next year.  Only thing is, it will cost over $14 million to keep him.  Hopefully, that salary will be "grandfathered" in to any new CBA-trimmed salary cap.

    Billups is important and will show his worth in the playoffs, so if the Knicks pan the option, it will be for one reason only: save money and sign a center.  They wouldn't be looking to upgrade the point guard position because there really aren't any point guards of Chauncey's caliber available in 2011 (barring another big trade).

    Not so in 2012 when the point guard free agent market goes from famine to feast (Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, D.J. Augustin, Raymond Felton, Jameer Nelson and more).  The timing would be perfect if the Knicks keep Chauncey one more year, then shed him along with his cap-restraining contract. But, oh, that salary.

    Still, I think the Knicks need to hang on to him, but if they do decide to use the money to go big and take their chances on this summer's free agent market for a point guard, here's the best of what they'd be looking at. Slim pickings indeed.

Earl Watson (Utah Jazz)

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    ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 12:  Earl Watson #11 of the Utah Jazz against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on November 12, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Status: Unrestricted

    Career: 10 years. Per 36: 11 P, 7.1 A, 3.6 R, 1.6 S

    2010-11: Per 36: 8 P, 6.6 A, 4.2 R, 1.4 S

    Pros: Cheap ($600K-$1M). Will leave at least $12 million in the Knicks coffers. Brings veteran experience.

    Cons: Essentially will be a sacrifice of the point guard position for a premium center.  Watson is no longer a consistent starter and is in the waning minutes of his career. May do more harm than good.

Mike Bibby (Miami Heat)

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    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 1: Mike Bibby #0 of Miami Heat drives to the basket against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of a basketball game at Target Center on April 1, 2011 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledge
    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Status: Unrestricted

    Career: 13 years. Per 36: 15.8 P, 5.9 A, 3.3 R, 1.2 S

    2010-11: Per 36: 11 P, 4.3 A, 3.1 R, 0.8 S

    Pros: Practically free ($300K-$500K). Will leave almost the whole of Billups' salary to play with. Brings veteran and considerable playoff experience. Still able to run a floor and play 30 minutes if not expected to be big contributor. Durable enough. Can occasionally score in double figures.

    Cons: While a better option than the more expensive Watson, Bibby is a substantial downgrade from Billups.  Bibby is younger than Billups, but seems and plays older.  His poor assists average will hurt the Knicks.

Sebastian Telfair (Minnesota Timberwolves)

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    ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 03:  Jason Williams #44 of the Orlando Magic drives past Sebastian Telfair #3 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the game at Amway Arena on November 3, 2010 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agree
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Status: Unrestricted

    Career: 7 years. Per 36: 12.1 P, 5.9 A, 2.5 R, 1.2 S

    2010-11: Per 36: 13.5 P, 5.6 A, 2.7 R, 1.3 S

    Pros: Fairly cheap ($2.7M-$3.5M). Good defender. Smart player. Can score. Could be signed for multiple years.

    Cons: Inexperienced. Plays relatively fewer few minutes. Career bench player for the most part. Will take time to transition to and be able to lead D'Antoni offense.

Mario Chalmers (Miami Heat)

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    DENVER, CO - JANUARY 13:  Mario Chalmers #15 of the Miami Heat dribbles the ball against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on January 13, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Heat 130-102. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and a
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Status: Restricted

    Career: 3 years. Per 36: 10.8 P, 4.9 A, 3.1 R, 2 S

    2010-11: Per 36: 10.4 P, 3.7 A, 3.4 R, 1.8 S

    Pros: Fairly cheap ($1M-$3M). Very good defender, which the Knicks could use. Promising, though as yet unrealized, potential. Could be a long-term project/investment.

    Cons: He's the enemy. Immature. Numbers have consistently slid the last three years.  Needs work on running a floor and needs to pass more. Miami turned to Bibby to bail them out, not a good sign.

Shannon Brown (Los Angeles Lakers)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 20:  Shannon Brown #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the ball in front of Gerald Wallace #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples Center on March 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowled
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Status: Unrestricted

    Career: 5 years. Per 36: 15.2 P, 2.3 A, 3.7 R, 1.4 S

    2010-11: Per 36: 16.5 P, 2.1 A, 3.6 R, 1.6 S

    Pros: Relatively cheap ($4M-$6M). Excellent scorer.  Not bad from three and can take it to the hoop, too.  More like a shooting guard than a point, but can still manage the floor.  He's big and plays defense. Doesn't turn the ball over.  Would be welcome long-term project/investment. Knows how to play with superstars and on winning teams. Comfortable in a major market.

    Cons: Would cost more than market value to lure him from Hollywood and the possibility of more rings with Kobe (he's already got two and holds the option). He'd rather shoot than pass.

Rodney Stuckey (Detroit Pistons)

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    AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 23: Rodney Stuckey #3 Detroit Pistons gets in for a dunk between Chris Bosh #1 and LeBron James #6 of the  Miami Heat at The Palace of Auburn Hills on March 23, 2011 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Miami won the game 100-94. NOTE TO US
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Status: Restricted

    Career: 4 years. Per 36: 16.3 P, 5.4 A, 3.9 R, 1.3 S

    2010-11: Per 36: 17.3 P, 5.7 A, 3.6 R, 1.3 S

    Pros: Relatively cheap ($4M-$6M). Fierce competitor. Sharp and quick. Does it all from top to bottom: manages floor, scores, assists, defends and rebounds.

    Cons: Drama. Signs are there he is a malcontent.  Will cost more than market value to pry him from the Pistons who have right of first refusal.

Jose Juan Barea (Dallas Mavericks)

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    DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 10:  Jose Barea #11 of the Dallas Mavericks drives the ball against Chris Andersen #11 of the Denver Nuggets during NBA action at the Pepsi Center on February 10, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges an
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Status: Unrestricted

    Career: 5 years. Per 36: 14.8 P, 6 A, 3.7 R, 0.8 S

    2010-11: Per 36: 16.5 P, 6.6 A, 3.5 R, 0.7 S

    Pros: Pretty cheap ($2M-$4M). Solid all-around career which is on the upswing.  Superb floor manager who can get the big men the ball. Excellent ball-handling helps him evade defenders. Can score for sure.

    Cons: Defense is an afterthought and his diminutive stature doesn't help.  Gets loose with the ball sometimes.

Aaron Brooks (Phoenix Suns)

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 27:  Aaron Brooks #0 of the Phoenix Suns lays up a shot past Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks during the NBA game at US Airways Center on March 27, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Mavericks defeated the Suns 91-83. NOTE TO USER:
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    (Lookin' good, Dirk.)

    Status: Restricted

    Career: 4 years. Per 36: 18 P, 5.2 A, 2.7 R, 0.8 S

    2010-11: Per 36: 18.1 P, 6.4 A, 2.2 R, 1 S

    Pros: Pretty cheap ($3M-$5M). Very strong and consistent scorer. Unselfish. Three-point expert who led the league last year in treys made.  Would fit right in with D'Antoni's scheme.

    Cons: Weak on the defensive side of the ball.  The Knicks will need to get past restricted status, always a challenge.