Chauncey Billups isn’t going to take it anymore.
The 35-year-old point guard became the first casualty of the new amnesty provision in the collective bargaining agreement when the Knicks waived him to clear salary-cap room for Tyson Chandler.
Billups, who has been traded five times in his 14-year career, has always been known as a consummate professional, and he has helped turn three different franchises into a winners.
But the Denver native is now fed up.
“I’m tired of being the glue guy,” Billups told Yahoo! Sports on Saturday. “I’m tired of being viewed as the good guy. After a while, you just kind of get taken advantage of in these situations.
“I’ve been known as a leader, and I am a leader, but a leader can be as disruptive as he can be productive, especially when you carry a strong voice and people rally around you.”
Under the amnesty provision, Billups still receives his full salary, but it doesn’t count against the Knicks’ cap. Any team can put in a bid for Billups, and the winning bidder gets Billups for that amount. The Knicks are responsible for the rest of his salary.
The Knicks needed to waive Billups to give them enough cap money to acquire Chandler via a sign-and-trade for a reported four-year, $56 million contract.
Some of you might be saying: “Quit whining, Chauncey. You’ve been paid more than $86.5 million to play basketball, according to basketball-reference.com, and now you could get paid about $14 million not to play basketball. The constant uprooting and lack of job stability might suck, but for all that dough, it’s worth it.”
If that’s your take, well, that says a lot about you, and it reveals where “money” and “family” stand on your list of priorities. Billups doesn’t sound like he shares that view.
“Listen, I feel I’ve been blessed in the game, and I’ve been given back, but these things start to wear on you,” Billups said. “I really believe it’s because people take my kindness and professionalism for weakness. They think I’ll be OK with this. I won’t be OK with this. I’ve saved my money. I may just retire if I don’t get my freedom here.”
Billups put out a warning that he wants to be claimed by a championship team, or to become a free agent. If he is claimed by a team in rebuilding mode, he made it clear he would not be the positive locker-room presence he’s always been.
“This is about me now,” he said. “This is about me, and teams should know that right now.”
Chandler was all smiles at his introductory news conference on Saturday. Not everyone was thrilled, though.
“This is unbelievably believable. It’s unbelievable because in the moment we’re all amazed when great things happen, but it’s believable because great things don’t happen without hard work.”
— Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III accepting the Heisman Trophy
We’re guessing the hashtag you’re looking for is #winNESNhockeyday. In that case… we’re not telling.
The one in the blue totally wins.