The Los Angeles Clippers are one of a handful of teams vying for free-agent guard J.R. Smith, who will be eligible to return to the NBA on Wednesday after his Chinese team’s season is finished, according to a source.
The Clippers were interested in Smith even before the season-ending injury to Chauncey Billups, believing they could use more offensive firepower off the bench.
That was going to be a harder sell to Smith, who is looking for a larger role. Now, they can offer Smith the opportunity to start.
Chauncey Billups suffered a severe left Achilles injury Monday night, and there are concerns that a tear could mean the end of his season.
“It felt like somebody kicked me, man,” Billups said after the game as he made his way to the team bus with crutches under both arms. “I don’t know if it’s torn, but I know it’s not good.”
Chris Paul fought back tears when asked to gauge Billups’ value to the team.
“I was backpedaling and tried to retreat and go back forward,” Billups said. “I couldn’t get up. I got up one time and I fell back down. At that point, I was just trying to get out of the game. I don’t know what it is. We’ll find out, man, tomorrow or the next day.”
There have been renewed whispers the Knicks have inquired about Suns point guard Steve Nash, who lives in SoHo in the offseason.
The Knicks have talked internally about trading Chauncey Billups for Nash as both have expiring contracts. But there does not appear any reason for Suns owner Robert Sarver to make a move and give Mike D’Antoni a chance to reunite with his favorite son.
The Knicks have had preliminary discussions with the Minnesota Timberwolves about a trade for point guard Jonny Flynn.
No formal deal is in place, but the Knicks are debating whether Flynn, the sixth overall pick of the 2009 draft would be a viable option to back up Chauncey Billups for at least one season.
Toney Douglas would likely be the player traded for Flynn. However, Douglas is coming off major shoulder surgery, which in theory would make him tough to deal. But Flynn is a similar medical risk. The 6-foot guard out of Syracuse had hip surgery last July and was limited to 53 games in his second year, not including a stint in the D-League.
The New York Knicks decided not to buy out the contract of point guard Chauncey Billups on Wednesday, ensuring he will be with the team for his full $14.2 million salary for the 2011-12 season.
The Knicks had until Friday to pick up the option or pay Billups a $3.7 million buyout.
“Chauncey, Amare [Stoudemire] and Chauncey [Billups] are a great nucleus, as we continue to look to improve our team going into the offseason,” Knicks president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh said in a statement. “Chauncey is an extremely talented and experienced point guard — we are very happy to have him back.”
Check out the best highlights and story lines from the first round series between the Celtics and Knicks.
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.
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.
“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.”
Amare Stoudemire will suit up and try to play through the pain associated with a pulled back muscle in Sunday’s Game 4 of the Knicks-Celtics series on Sunday, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said.
Point guard Chauncey Billups, however, has already been ruled out.
Stoudemire played with a pulled back muscle in Game 3 on Friday night. He said on Saturday that he would not play in Game 4 if the pain in his back hadn’t subsided by game time.
D’Antoni said that Stoudemire’s injury repsonded well to treatment on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Chauncey Billups had fluid drained from his injured left knee today and also received a cortisone shot in attempt to play in Game 3 on Friday.
“Chauncey’s doing everything he can to get back out there,” said a Knicks official. “This is killing him. He feels they would have won both games if he was out there at the end.”
Billups was injured in the last two minutes of Sunday’s Game 1 loss to Boston and did not play in Game 2.
Chauncey Billups is scheduled to have an MRI exam today in New York. Billups, 34, has not been ruled out of Game 3 Friday in New York, but it does not look very promising, as he was still hobbling in the locker room.
“I don’t know. I’ll find out more [today],” Billups told The Post after the game. “Of course I’m concerned. It’s feeling better today as far as walking and stuff. Hopefully it will continue to get better.”
And if he does return during the series, it would seem highly unlikely he will be close to 100 percent.