Chauncey Billups says he has interest in joining Heat
MIAMI — The Miami Heat went after Chauncey Billups before last season but weren’t able to get him. They soon will have another chance.
The veteran point guard will become a free agent July 1. He said he then will consider the Heat.
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“Of course, I would have interest in Miami, of course,’’ Billups told FOX Sports Florida after having received the NBA’s inaugural Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award prior to Sunday night’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Heat went after Billups after he was released in December 2011 as part of the NBA’s amnesty provision. However, the Los Angeles Clippers won the bidding process, and he has played with them the past two seasons.
But Billups, 36, said he will look at all options this summer. He was asked if the Clippers have any sort of inside track to re-sign him.
“I’m wide open,’’ Billups said. “Free agent means free.’’
It remains to be seen if the Heat, who are pleased with young point guards Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, might be willing to bring in a veteran at the position. But Billups said he’s been watching the Heat and believes he could be an asset.
“Absolutely, I could help them,’’ Billups said before the Heat faced San Antonio after having lost the Finals opener last Thursday
Billups averaged 15.0 points for the Clippers in 20 games in 2011-12 before suffering a season-ending torn Achilles tendon. He continued to be hampered by the injury last season, missing 38 of the first 41 games.
Billups finished the season averaging 8.4 points in 22.0 minutes. He averaged 6.2 points over 19.2 minutes in six playoff games.
The 6-foot-3 Billups, who turns 37 in September, said he has given no thoughts to retiring, saying, “Absolutely, I’m definitely coming back next year.’’ Billups made $3 million last season but might now have to settle for a minimum contract.
Billups has played in two NBA Finals, including being named Finals MVP as the Detroit Pistons won the title in 2004. He played in an astounding seven straight conference finals with Detroit and Denver from 2003-09.
When the Nuggets went to the West finals in 2009, that was the only time in nine Denver seasons George Karl made it out of the first round. For that reason, Billups, who played under Karl from November 2008 to February 2011, could see why the coach was fired by the Nuggets last week.
“I was a little surprised by the timing of it,” Billups said. “But you look at the whole big picture, when you can’t get out of the first round, it’s tough. It’s tough.”
By a vote of NBA players, Billups won the inaugural award that is named after Jack Twyman and Maurice Stokes. While with the Rochester and Cincinnati Royals in the late 1950s and 1960s, Twyman befriended Stokes and became his legal guardian after his teammate was struck down by an injury that caused paralysis and couldn’t take care of himself.
“I’m just very honored to be the recipient of such a prestigious and great award,’’ Billups said at a press conference. “This is an unbelievable honor for me just to have my name alongside Mr. Twyman. And I think it’s awesome that the NBA would now start to honor him every year.’’
Finishing second in the voting was Miami forward Shane Battier. With 79, Battier actually received more first-place votes than any the nominees. But Billups, who was second with 64, got 1,543 points to 1,324 for Battier as NBA players voted for their top five picks.
The NBA’s Teammate of Year wouldn’t mind next season being a teammate of the guy who finished second.