By A.Sherrod Blakely
NEW YORK All indications are that the New York Knicks plan to keep Chauncey Billups around for next season.
But in case they have a change of heart, a number of teams would be in the running for his services . . . including the team that drafted him, the Boston Celtics.
Billups is due 14.2 million next season, which will become fully guaranteed if he's not waived within five days of the season ending. If he is waived, he will be owed 3.7 million and can then sign with any team he wants.
As far as whether he would be interested in re-joining the Celtics, Billups was non-committal.
"That's something that I'll answer if that comes about," Billups told CSNNE.com prior to the Celtics eliminating the Knicks from the playoffs with a 101-89 win on Sunday. "I'm not going to jump up and talk about that now, because I'm not available."
Billups is known for coming up with big shots in the playoffs -- hence the nickname, Mr. Big Shot.
However, the Knicks never really got a chance to see that because of a left knee injury he suffered near the end of New York's Game 1 loss to the Celtics.
When asked whether he thought that might be a factor in the Knicks' decision to waive him, Billups said, "I don't know. I don't think so. It's not like I'm really that injured; I just got a problem. But this will get better soon, and won't be an issue moving forward."
The prospect of Billups back with the Green team is an intriguing one.
While the addition of a veteran, championship-caliber backup for Rajon Rondo would certainly strengthen their roster, the Celtics also understand that there is a need to develop young, talented players for the future.
Adding a player like Billups, for example, may to some degree stunt the growth of Avery Bradley who spent the bulk of his rookie season on the bench and with the C's D-League affiliate in Maine.
But adding Billups might be just what the C's need to convince Doc Rivers to come back for one more season as the Celtics' coach.
And Kevin Garnett, maybe more than anyone, would benefit from having Billups around.
The two struck up a friendship when they played together in Minnesota, and have remained close ever since.
In fact, it was Billups and current assistant coach Tyronn Lue (then with the Atlanta Hawks) who helped convince Garnett to be open to being traded from Minnesota to Boston.
Regardless of what the Knicks do with Billups' contract, he is a proven talent that can help a team both as a starter and as a talented backup.
"You know me; I just want to win," Billups said. "All that other stuff, I'm done with that. It's all about competing and winning championships for me."