Billups signs 5-year contract with Pistons |

Billups signs 5-year contract with Pistons

Larry Lage
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado
**FILE ** Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups directs a play in the second half of the Pistons' 98-90 win over the Orlando Magic in a first-round NBA playoff basketball game at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich., in this April 23, 2007 file photo. . (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

DETROIT ” Chauncey Billups signed a $60 million, five-year contract Wednesday with the Detroit Pistons, returning to the team he helped reach five straight conference finals.

The contract is worth $46 million guaranteed over four years and includes a team option for the fifth year.

Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said he was “very pleased” to have Billups back.

“We said from the beginning that re-signing Chauncey was our top priority, and now we can move forward knowing that Chauncey will continue to lead this team,” Dumars told The Associated Press on Wednesday afternoon. “One of the toughest positions to fill in this business is the point guard position, and that’s why it was imperative that we re-sign Chauncey.”

Billups and the Pistons appeared to reach a win-win deal, because even though the All-Star was one of the NBA’s top free agents this summer, other teams didn’t seem to be willing or able to compete with Detroit’s offer.

Rasheed Wallace in 2004 re-signed with the Pistons in a similar situation, for $57 million over five years after he and Billups helped the franchise win its third title.

Billups has guided Detroit on the court during what has been one of the league’s most consistent stretches in two-plus decades.

He was the NBA finals MVP three years ago, when Detroit beat the Los Angeles Lakers with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, and nearly led Detroit to a title the next year.

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

Billups made it clear he wanted to return to the team that gave him stability for the first time in his career. The Pistons, likewise, said re-signing him was the No. 1 priority this offseason.

He joined the Pistons as a free agent in 2002 after bouncing around the league.

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

In Detroit, Billups was given a chance to blossom, and he took full advantage of it.

He became one of the NBA’s top point guards with his steady leadership and clutch shooting along with the willingness to take something from each of his three coaches ” Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown and Flip Saunders ” in Detroit.

Billups averaged 17 points, 7.2 assists and two turnovers last season, helping the Pistons have the best record in the Eastern Conference. He has career averages of 14.5 points, 5.3 assists and two assists.

The player known as Mr. Big Shot was off his game, though, in each of the past two conference finals as Detroit was eliminated. Against Cleveland last month, he averaged 15.3 points, 3.5 assists and 3.8 turnovers while uncharacteristically struggling in pressure-packed situations.

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 with injuries last season.

Billups might have a chance to play in the conference finals for a sixth straight year.

Barring a major trade, he will be in one of the top backcourts with Richard Hamilton. The Pistons also feature three talented frontcourt players: Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and Antonio McDyess.

The Pistons hope to improve their depth and future by re-signing restricted free agent Amir Johnson, who has impressed the team despite playing just 11 NBA games since the 6-foot-9 forward was drafted out of high school in 2005.

Chris Webber, who ended the season as Detroit’s starting center, is an unrestricted free agent, and it’s not clear if he wants to play in Detroit or if the Pistons want him back. If Webber is not re-signed, center Nazr Mohammed likely will be retained if the team can’t acquire another center through trades.

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

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