It didn’t take long for the Miami Heat to potentially find the next ring-chasing veteran that wants to end their career with championships, low minutes and a home to retire in only a few minutes away.
The winner of the inaugural Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year, Chauncey Billups said that he was open to the idea of playing for the Miami Heat, stating “Of course, I would have interest in Miami, of course”.
Billups, who will be turning 37-years-old in September, has spent the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers after spurning the Heat following his release from the New York Knicks as a result of being a victim of the amnesty clause.
Injuries have ravaged the career of Billups over the past two seasons, including suffering a ruptured achilles off of what appeared to be little more than a tweak. He has played only 44 games over the past two seasons, failing to shoot any better than 41 percent from the field.
He did say to ESPN.com that he feels like he’s “back healthy again”.
If he were to join the Heat, however, Billups would primarily be used as a ball-handler and perimeter threat. He shot 38 percent on six three-point attempts per in 2012 and 37 percent on four three-point attempts per this past season.
When he plays, Billups has been starting as the Clippers starting shooting guard. As early as two years ago, he was averaging 15 points per game but shot a near career-low 36 percent from the field. He actually shot a higher percentage from the perimeter.
Billups had an incredibly subpar series against the Memphis Grizzlies, averaging six points and shooting a tad under 31 percent from the field.
Since Miami is more concerned about three-point percentages, however, they’ll be pleased to see Chauncey did manage 35 percent shooting from beyond the arc on nearly three three-point attempts per.
The sample size is small, but Billups was a 40 percent overall shooter and 36 percent from beyond the arc on spot-up opportunities, which he relied on for 31 percent of his offense this past season, per SynergySports.
Billups is just another veteran who has admitted interest in playing with the Heat. Milwaukee Bucks center Samuel Dalembert also admitted to being interested in being a member of the Heat, while still being in a Bucks uniform during their first-round sweep at the hands of Miami.
Playing in Miami is the hot ticket for veterans nearing the end of their careers, yet still equipped with enough of a jump shot to remain relevant and earn consistent minutes in the rotation.
Shane Battier and Ray Allen have reaped the benefits, while the likes of Rashard Lewis and Juwan Howard have had no problem in watching Miami rip off championship runs while they ride the bench.
It seems like a good fit. Billups has long been a feared threat in tight moments, has always been looked at someone who emits veteran leadership, can still consistently hit from the perimeter and can play fundamental ball when he’s running the point.
Most importantly, he’ll be cost-efficient and could be open to taking the veteran’s minimum, worth $1 million, after a career where he has made over $100 million strictly from NBA contracts.
The problem, however, is where does Chauncey fit in the middle of all of this. Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole have both taken huge leaps forward and have solidified not just spots in the rotation, but long-term contracts when their current deals expire; Chalmers in 2014 and Cole has a team option in 2015 and a qualifying offer in 2016.
Plus, their ongoing development is only going to aid a Heat team that has key rotation players showing their age by the day.
James Jones, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis all have player options next year, totaling near $6 million. The Heat’s primary target, however, could be Chris Andersen, who was signed in January just for the remainder of the season. His play has been impressive and he may end up with another one-year deal, something that Ronny Turiaf couldn’t secure last year.
Billups would be fighting for minutes in a backcourt with not just the Heat’s pure point guards, but also perimeter players in Allen, Battier and Mike Miller.
Miami’s rotation has shrunk so significantly this postseason that Battier has been relegated to the end of the bench. He and Miller, an extremely capable rotation player, have been fighting for minutes over the past few seasons and Miller has recently taken over the minutes.
Finding minutes for Billups would be difficult, but if he’s willing to take the money and the significant reduction in his minutes (He’d have to go from perennial starter to benchwarmer) then there could be a spot on the bench waiting for him.