Chauncey Billups Would Seek Buyout if Traded by Denver, Says Agent
The Bergen Record reported Friday that Billups' name has surfaced in a possible deal in which he and teammate Carmelo Anthony would go to New Jersey. The New Jersey paper reported Detroit also would be involved in the possible three-team deal.
"I've been in constant contact with Masai (Ujiri, the Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations) and made it clear that Chauncey's desire is to remain a Nugget for the rest of his playing career and thereafter,'' Billups' agent, Andy Miller, said by phone Saturday to FanHouse. "If any of these rumors were to come to fruition, Chauncey and I would definitely want to maintain our flexibility and explore our free agency as soon as possible.''
Billups, a Denver native and hometown hero, is making $13.5 million this season and is due to make $14.2 million next season. However, the Nuggets, or whichever team might trade for Billups, can buy out his contract five days after the conclusion of the team's season for $3.7 million. There is language in an NBA document that has the buyout date as June 20, but that was said to be incorrect Saturday, although those type of dates can be changed if both parties agree.
A contract also could be bought out by March 1, which would enable a player to still appear in the playoffs for another team.
Miller was asked what type of leverage Billups could have with any new team if it's the team's decision on whether to buy him out.
"I would be shocked if any team would not execute on it if the starting point guard does not want to be with the team (and is seeking) free agency,'' Miller said. "(If Billups leaves Denver) by way of a trade, then he would want to immediately be able to control his own destiny.''
If Billups is traded to the Nets, he might request an immediate buyout. Regardless of where Billups might end up in any possible trade, it could depend on the situation as to whether an immediate buyout would be sought or Billups would wait until the summer.
Ujiri did not immediately return a message. Billups spoke to reporters earlier Saturday about the trade rumors, later also written about by other outlets.
"Everybody knows what I want and my intentions,'' Billups, 34, said of wanting to finish his career with the Nuggets. "I've been clear about that. But I also know this is professional sports and this is a business. So I hope that I'm here. Everybody knows that. But, if I'm not, I'm going to do the best I can, whatever happens."
Billups has been vocal about wanting to stay in Denver. He told FanHouse last June, "I want to be a Nugget until I'm done playing.''
"It's always a chance,'' Billups, averaging 16.9 points and 5.0 assists, acknowledged about being traded. "You can say that for anybody (on the Nuggets). But I haven't spoken to management. None of that. That's their job. My job is right here (on the court). Their job is over there.''
Miller talked about how Billups would like to play for many more seasons with Denver and then move into the Nuggets' front office. Miller said he's had the conversation a number of times with Ujiri about Billups wanting to stay long term in Denver, but Miller declined to say what Ujiri's response has been.
The complicated possible deal reported by the New Jersey paper has the Nuggets getting Derrick Favors and Devin Harris and draft picks from the Nets, Richard Hamilton going from Detroit to New Jersey, Troy Murphy from the Nets to the Pistons and other players possibly being moved to make salaries match.
But it could be a moot point. A source told FanHouse on Dec. 20 that Anthony doesn't want to sign an extension with the Nets, and that hasn't changed.
It's unlikely the Nets, who have the best assets to trade to Denver, would give the Nuggets a sweet package with no guarantee Anthony would stay with the team past the season. It's possible that trying to get Billups to also come to New Jersey is a ploy to get Anthony to change his mind about being with the Nets long term.
Anthony, who declined an interview request Saturday, would prefer being dealt to New York. However, the Knicks don't have trade assets nearly as attractive as New Jersey does.
Anthony could sign with the Knicks next summer as a free agent. But he runs the risk of a new collective bargaining agreement significantly lowering salaries for next season.
As for Billups, he doesn't have the leverage Anthony has about where he might want to play next season. Then again, that hasn't stopped his agent from saying Billups would want to become a free agent next summer if the Nuggets deal him by the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@christomasson