The Los Angeles Clippers couldn’t pull off a surprise trade for Chris Paul, so they pulled off a surprise waiver claim, picking up Chauncey Billups.
The Clippers had the winning waiver bid for the guard, who was an amnesty-clause waiver by Friday by the New York Knicks under the
According to ESPN, the Clippers’ winning bid was $2 million. The Knicks will be on the hook for the remaining amount of Billups $14.2 million salary this season. He would have become an unrestricted free agent if he had not been claimed, That was a more attractive prospect, given that the Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, Dallas Mavericks, and Miami Heat reportedly were interested in him. But, like every other move in the NBA these days, this one may not be so simple.
Billups told ESPN NY’s Ian O’Connor over the weekend that he would consider other options if the Clippers came after him.
“If I get claimed by a team I don't want to play for, I would absolutely consider retirement,” Billups said. “The game's been really good to me and I don't want anyone to feel bad for me. I've made a lot of money and I've saved most of it. I don't need the money now. I want to be able to play for something, a championship, and I want to be able to have my own destiny in my hands. If I don't, then retiring might have to be a decision I make.”
Clippers General Manager Neil Olshey was confident that he could change Billups’ mind about the team. And, besides, the league had informed him that he’d be in breach of his contract if he failed to show up, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Chauncey is a warrior. He's a player. This is a similar situation — we had this in the best year we had here — with Sam Cassell. He got traded away from a place he was really comfortable in,” Clippers general manager Neil Olshey said. “All we said was, 'Come in with an open mind. Give us a chance. Look at our culture, look at who we were.' The next year Sam becomes the Messiah, got us to the second round of the playoffs, signed a two-year deal for $14 million dollars and finished his career. It's not unlike that.
“There's going to be some work to do. I think Chauncey would've liked to control the process, but unfortunately we have to do what's best for our team. I think once he gets here and sees the resources we have, meets the guys and sees what kind of team we have, hopefully we can do the same thing with him as we were able to do with Sam and Marcus Camby.”