For the Knicks: It's Billups or No-Billups

Chauncey Billups Chauncey Billups # 4 of the New York Knicks shoots a free throw against  the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden on February 23, 2011 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. The Knicks defeated the Bucks 114-108.

By: Glenn Vallach

It's pretty clear to me that the New York Knicks, while becoming immediately viable this year with the Carmelo Anthony(notes) trade, have also boxed themselves fairly snuggly into a corner.

The most pressing question, hotly debated since Chauncey Billups(notes) accompanied Anthony to New York, is whether the Knicks should pick up the 34 year-old point guard's option for next year, valued at $14 million. The discussion is quickly reaching its zenith now because the end of the Knick season came rather abruptly, and the decision needs to be made by Friday, April 29.

My first inclination is to recommend they don't re-sign Billups, but that proclivity has been hastily amended due to the cold, hard facts…the Knicks don't have any choice.

After observing Billups being driven gimpy on a couple of occasions over the last part of the season, I've got to arrive at the conclusion his legs are somewhat compromised. After all, there's a trucker's worth of mileage in that engine, and while his injuries didn't seem age-related, he sure didn't bounce back in any kind of a hurry. Kobe Bryant(notes) rolled his ankle the other night in Game Four of the Los Angeles Lakers' series against the New Orleans Hornets in what appeared to me to be a potentially debilitating injury. He's playing Game Five. Billups fell in Game One against the Boston Celtics and missed the rest of the series. He missed six games with a thigh bruise, for goodness sakes, right after he joined the Knicks.

But the Knicks' needs are many. They desperately need a center as well. The Knicks were third from last in rebound differential this year, and for a team that enjoys a quick tempo, it's hard to run without the ball.

After trading all the roster value they had for Anthony and Billups, future transactions for quality players are improbable. There's only free agency to consider, and this year, nothing remarkable is available to upgrade the point guard position.

So that leaves us with Chauncey Billups for at least another year…and then the LeBron-like Chris Paul(notes) campaign for 2012. What you think?