Pistons re-sign Billups in 5-year, $60 million deal

Updated: July 3, 2007, 7:38 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- Chauncey Billups bounced around like a basketball early in his career before finding an NBA home with the Detroit Pistons.

The All-Star point guard now will extend his career with the team he led to the past five Eastern Conference finals.

Billups and the Pistons agreed on a five-year, $60 million contract Tuesday, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press.

The person, who requested anonymity because of league rules preventing contract announcements before July 11, said the deal is worth $46 million guaranteed over four years and the fifth year is a team option.

Billups was drafted third overall in 1997 by Boston and was with Toronto, Denver, Orlando and Minnesota within his first four years in the league.

The former Colorado star signed with the Pistons as a free agent in 2002, and helped them become one of the league's most consistent playoff teams.

Since 1984, only the Los Angeles Lakers have been more reliable in the playoffs, with a run that ended with a sixth straight conference finals appearance in 1989.

Billups was the NBA finals MVP in 2004, when Detroit beat the Lakers with Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, and he helped the Pistons win three games in the 2005 finals against San Antonio.

The 30-year-old Billups became an unrestricted free agent last month after opting out of the last year of a six-year contract, and both he and the team expected to reach a deal to keep him in Detroit.

The two-time All-Star had three coaches -- Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown and Flip Saunders -- in Detroit who helped him become one of the NBA's top point guards. Billups averaged 17 points, 7.2 assists and two turnovers last season and 14.5 points and 5.3 assists over his nine-year career.

Billups was off his game in each of the past two conference finals, leading to Detroit's elimination. He averaged 15.3 points, 3.5 assists and 3.8 turnovers, and uncharacteristically struggled in clutch situations against Cleveland this year -- failing to live up to his nickname, Mr. Big Shot.

But the Pistons wouldn't have reached the NBA's final four in each of the past five seasons without Billups, whose unique ability to run the team was underscored when he was sidelined by injuries last season.

The Pistons seem to have a chance to remain contenders in the Eastern Conference by bringing back Billups, who forms one of the NBA's top backcourts with Richard Hamilton. Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and Antonio McDyess, who already chose to return next season, give Detroit a strong frontcourt.

Chris Webber, who ended the season as Detroit's starting center, is an unrestricted free agent.

The Pistons would like to trade guard Flip Murray and center Nazr Mohammed, both signed last year as free agents, this offseason and should have an opportunity to add a solid veteran with the midlevel exception that can pay a player more than $5 million a season.

Detroit drafted guards Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo last week in the first round, adding depth after dealing Carlos Delfino and expecting Lindsey Hunter to retire or play a limited role on the court.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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