- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Chauncey Billups thinks the Knicks, if completely healthy, would have won their first-round series against Boston.
He also wants a chance to come back to New York next season and give it another shot.
Billups is due to make $14.2 million next season in the final year of his contract. But only $3.7 million of that is guaranteed, so the Knicks could buy him out for that sum after the season and make him a free agent.
“I would love the opportunity to really try it up with these guys,” Billups said. “Not like play 30 games after a trade, like really have a season. Have an opportunity to really get a fair shake with these guys. I would love to.”
The Knicks have five days after the end of their season to decide on Billups' deal. They have reportedly given Billups a verbal agreement that he will be back, but his durability (he also missed six games with a bruised thigh in March) could cause the team to change its mind.
Team president Donnie Walsh said on Saturday that the injuries Billups suffered during his brief Knicks tenure would have no bearing on the team’s decision.
Billups hopes that is the case.
“This injury right now or the bang to the thigh, that has nothing to do with age. They did an MRI, looked at my knees and they look like they’re 22 years old. ... I have no issue, my body’s good, I'm in great shape,” said Billups, a 34-year-old in his 14th NBA season. “I don’t believe at all that the two injuries I sustained that made me lose a couple games this season since the trade has anything to do with age or how many years I’ve played.”
It’s hard to believe given how the series played out, but Billups believes if he and Amare Stoudemire were healthy, the sixth-seeded Knicks could have taken out the No. 3 seed Celtics. Billups missed Games 2, 3 and 4 after straining his left knee late in Game 1. Stoudemire injured his back prior to Game 2 and played in pain in Games 3 and 4.
“I feel like if I could have finished Game 1, we definitely come away with that win," said Billups, who added that it was “torture” to be on the bench. "Game 2, you can never really say. But I feel like we could have won the series, I really do.”