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NBA AM: Billups Says Cease Retirement Talks
Posted By Lang Greene On February 8, 2012 @ 9:12 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
On Tuesday the dreaded news most expected was confirmed.
The MRI results for Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups revealed he had suffered a torn left Achilles’ tendon in the third quarter of Monday’s win in Orlando.
Billups is out for the remainder season.
At 35, and with the typical rehabilitation timeline for this type of injury expected to be in the neighborhood of eight to twelve months, it was only natural for chatter to start predicting an imminent retirement announcement, with analysts also beginning to evaluate his Hall of Fame credentials.
But the fifteen-year veteran has surprisingly nipped the retirement talk in the bud before they gained traction and fully intends to play again despite the injury’s severity.
“No sir. There is no way I’m going to crawl out of the league,” Billups told Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. “I’m going to be back. Trust me. I’ll get it taken care of and get back the best way I can. That’s exactly what I’m going to do,” he said.
No date has been set for his surgery, but Billups is expected to fly back to Los Angeles Thursday for further evaluation.
Once Billups returns to action he will be an unrestricted free agent with the ability to sign with any team he desires.
As it stands right now it is Billups’ desire to return to the emerging Clippers, who currently lead the Pacific Division over their cross-town rival Lakers.
“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Billups said. “The movement that the team has going on, it’s fun and I love it. Obviously I feel like there some unfinished business there. Of course they’ve got to move on without me and try to replace me. I respect that too.
If it were up to Billups’ backcourt mate point guard Chris Paul, it’s a no-brainer the Clippers should seriously look into bringing the former Finals MVP back in free agency.
“Right now, it’s still kind of surreal,” Paul said. “I’ve been through a tough injury before. It’s crazy because this is almost tougher [for me] than my own injury. It’s just because of the connection that I have with Chauncey. I know how much he loves to play and I know that he’s easily the best backcourt player, teammate that I’ve ever played with.”
Billups had been serving as the team’s shooting guard this season, averaging over 15 points per contest and hitting numerous big shots in the clutch for the young squad, so his departure will likely elevate either Mo Williams or Randy Foye into the starting lineup full-time.
According to head coach Vinnie Del Negro, it will be Foye who gets the first shot at replacing Billups in the now vacant starting shooting guard slot – beginning with Wednesday night’s contest versus Cleveland.
“Now they are going to need me more than ever,” Foye said. “I’m ready.”
Foye has proven to be a solid player since entering the league in 2006, but it’s clear the drop-off in talent level is a very steep one. The Clippers will have to overcome the loss of Chauncey Billups in order to continue their positive momentum, and that’s no small task.
Hawes Wants Long-Term Commitment From 76ers: The days of the NBA being dominated by Hall of Fame caliber centers roaming the paint are long gone, but it remains more evident than ever that the road to postseason success revolves around having a quality big man on the roster.
Evaluating the list of NBA champion starting centers since 1999 and the trend becomes apparent. The majority of the teams possessed strong play on the interior – some being Hall of Fame worthy, others excelling primarily on defense. The cast includes Shaquille O’Neal (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006), David Robinson (1999, 2003), Ben Wallace (2004), Kendrick Perkins (2008), Andrew Bynum (2009-10) and Tyson Chandler (2011).
The Philadelphia 76ers have been climbing the Eastern Conference standings under the guidance of head coach Doug Collins since the end of last season. If history continues to serve correctly, they’ll need a solid big man presence on the interior to take them deep into the playoffs.
The question is do they already have a center who fits the bill on the current roster?
If it were up to Spencer Hawes, the team’s current starting center and unrestricted free agent to be at season’s end, the answer would be a resounding yes. He would like to be a long term option for the franchise in the post.
“Definitely, I can definitely see myself there [long term],” Hawes told HOOPSWORLD when asked about his desire to don a Sixers uniform the next five years.
One of the main reasons for Hawes’ desire to remain in Philadelphia is the presence of Collins on the sidelines.
Drafted with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2007 draft by Sacramento, Hawes was traded by the organization after just three seasons – a rarity for top ten picks.
However from day one since receiving the news of being dealt, Collins has been one of the biggest advocates of Hawes’ game.
Naturally the relationship has consistently grown, fostered confidence and also established a strong trust level from both parties. .
“I’ve had the same coach back for the first time since my rookie year,” Hawes said. “Playing for a system that I’ve really had some time with now and to gain that trust with coach Collins and vice versa with me, I think that makes a big difference. It’s been nice finally having that kind of stability.”
From an efficiency standpoint Hawes is having the best of his career while averaging 10.5 points and 8.3 rebounds on 57 percent shooting from the floor.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to avoid the injury bug in this shortened season due to the lockout.
Hawes admits it’s been frustrating this season to miss significant time due to injury, especially in a contract year.
“It was frustrating,” Hawes said. “But we all knew coming in with the schedule they put together for us that it was going to have some casualties. Unfortunately, I was one of the first ones to go down. Hopefully I can put that in the rearview now and focus on heading forward.”
If the Sixers are going to advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003 they’ll need a healthy Hawes manning the middle.
In terms of potential playoff opponents as it stands currently the Sixers are slated to face the Orlando Magic, who boast a perennial All-Star and reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Dwight Howard, which makes the on court presence of the 7-foot Hawes even more valuable to Philadelphia’s cause.
Are The Nets Seeing Eye to Eye? There is no question about it; the 2012 season has been a disappointing campaign for the New Jersey Nets.
Entering the season with legitimate postseason aspirations behind All-Star point guard Deron Williams and center Brook Lopez, the Nets have stumbled out of the gates to an abysmal 8-18 start.
Contributing to the subpar start is the fact Lopez hasn’t played a single minute this season after undergoing surgery in December to repair a stress fracture in his right foot.
Williams believes the loss of Lopez on the inside has crippled the Nets defensively and is strong reason for the club’s sub .500 record.
“It’s tough,” Williams told Tim Bontemps of The New York Post on Tuesday. “The best defensive teams are the teams that have big guys in the middle. We don’t have that.”
However, power forward Kris Humphries has a totally different line of thinking regarding the team’s early season struggles.
Humphries believes it’s time to stop the excuse making and start producing – plain and simple.
“We have to do better,” Humphries said to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. “No excuses, ‘we’re missing this guy and that guy,’ this is what we have got right now. People are still coming to games and we’re still getting paid. We’ve got to play better.”
The Nets have been reeling not only from the loss of Lopez, but promising rookie guard MarShon Brooks and veterans DeShawn Stevenson and Mehmet Okur have also been battling nagging ailments all season.
But Humphries still doesn’t believe that’s an excuse for the lackluster play and views injuries as a time for other guys to step up and earn more time.
“I got my opportunity in the NBA when somebody was hurt, I came in and played hard and got my opportunity to play a ton,” Humphries said. “I think that every player has to approach it like ‘I don’t want to be a little Band Aid that’s going to fall off. I want to be the fix that sticks.’ I think this is an opportunity for people.”
Keeping perspective the Nets are only three games behind Milwaukee for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
There is too much time left to panic especially with Lopez, who averaged 20 points per game in 2011, expected to be available at some point this season. The playoffs are still a real possibility for the struggling Nets.
It just appears that their locker room is split on two completely different sides of the spectrum on what’s contributing to the team’s struggles up until this point.
NBA Chats: There are two NBA chats on the schedule today. Kicking things off will be salary cap guru Larry Coon who will host his chat starting at 3pm EST. Submit a question for Larry here. Next up, I will be hosting my weekly chat at 8pm EST. Feel free to drop me a line on anything NBA related. You can always find our upcoming chats HERE.
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