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After weeks of speculation, former Detroit Pistons star Chauncey Billups has reportedly taken himself out of consideration for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ open president of basketball operations position.
After Cleveland’s surprising decision not to renew general manager David Griffin’s contract two weeks ago, Billups’ name almost immediately entered the conversation as the Cavaliers’ top target. Discussions continued for several days, and BIG3 founder Ice Cube suggested a deal was close when he said, “Chauncey took that job,” and alerted fans Billups would not be on the court for his much-anticipated debut with the 3-on-3 league in Brooklyn, but no formal offer was made at the time.
Assistant GM Koby Altman has been leading Cleveland’s front office decision-making efforts during the transition, which is now three days into free agency and includes speculation the Cavaliers could be pursuing a trade for New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. For the record, the Knicks are also without a team president, and Griffin is among those interviewing to replace the ousted Phil Jackson.
Meanwhile, Billups made his BIG3 debut for the Killer 3’s in Charlotte over the weekend:
Billups collected 15 points (on 4-of-11 shooting, including two four-point shots on five attempts), seven rebounds and three assists alongside teammates Stephen Jackson (18 points), Reggie Evans and Larry Hughes in a 50-45 loss to a Power team led by Cuttino Mobley (23 points) and DeShawn Stevenson (15 points). All of which sounds like something that would not have happened in 2004.
Afterwards, he faced several questions about the Cleveland job, telling reporters he was “still in the process of thinking it over” and suggesting he would make his decision “in the next few days”:
That day came Monday. Billups, who has no front-office experience, also serves as an ESPN analyst.
Cavaliers superstar LeBron James did not seem too pleased with news of Griffin’s ousting. The absence of a clear direction in Cleveland’s leadership during the first few days of free agency — when the Cavs have been quiet beyond signing veteran point guard Jose Calderon and retaining sharpshooter Kyle Korver — coupled with reports LeBron isn’t actively recruiting players to the team as he has in years past, raises further speculation about whether LeBron will test the free agency waters in 2018.
“I have great respect for Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and I greatly appreciate the discussions we had regarding their organization,” Billups told ESPN. “As I have conveyed before, ultimately I would like to lead a team’s basketball operation and be a part of a successful franchise. But presently, the timing just isn’t right to delve into that role in Cleveland. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on broadcasting and my other business endeavors.”
With the Cavs making three straight Finals appearances, including the 2016 title run, and remaining as heavy favorites to win the East again in 2018, one might think Cleveland presented the chance “to lead a team’s basketball operation and be a part of a successful franchise” that Billups sought. However:
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has never extended a GM’s contract during his dozen years with the team. It was not immediately clear whether the uncertainty of the franchise’s future, managerial control, a dollar figure or one of several other reasons was the last straw in Billups’ decision to walk away.
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