Chauncey Billups: the Memoirs of a Cancer
A story of Chauncey Billups' amnesty demands, told (almost) firsthand.
Chauncey Billups in George Karl's office, trying to convince Karl to pick up his option.
Chauncey Billups: You know, George, I once turned the Nuggets inside out, just to see if I could. I'm bad news. I'm a bad dude. Don't take me on waivers unless you're willing to deal with hell on Earth.
George Karl: No, Chauncey, that was Carmelo. You were the guiding force that we fucked over to make our trade balance work. On the one hand, we'd love to have you back. We have a starter-quality point in Andre Miller and a promising young guard in Ty Lawson, but with Miller aging, and the compressed season, it could work out quite well, actually...
CB: You know what, wow, that makes perfect sense. In that case, I would--
GK: It's too bad we're not even interested in you.
CB: Wait, but --
GK: Chauncey, I have to ask you to leave. We're really short on players, and I've been really busy getting everyone ready.
CB: Wait, I could be one of those players! That would be great!
GK: Do you really want it?
CB: Yes, actually. I'm a veteran presence, and my leadership would be perfe --
GK: Tell me what you want Chauncey, and I'll do my best.
CB: I just want a vet min contract, a stable place to stay and raise my family, and no hassles caused by goddamn superstars that think they're above the goddamn system. That's all I want.
GK: Absolutely not. Get out of my office. Try the Clippers. I'm sure they'll never trade you.
• • •
CB: Hello, Robert Sarver.
Robert Sarver: Hello, Chauncey.
CB: So I was wondering... maybe you could NOT pick me up, if you had any such intentions.
RS: I did not, in fact, have any such intentions.
CB: Oh. Well, why not?
RS: Tell me what you earned last year.
CB: Well, it was right around $15 million.
RS: And are you, say, a tragically undertalented player of a D-League caliber that I will overpay heavily while passing on legitimately solid free agents despite a stated commitment to frugality?
CB: I mean, I'm a little bit older, but I play just fine. On the other hand, it would be tragic to acquire me for that kind of money when you already have Steve Nash to start, who is still a franchise player, even though you have no intentions of trading him. You'd make no one happy, and spend the same amount of money as your rivals.
RS: Oh. That's a good point. I'll think about it.
CB: Wait, what?
• • •
CB: Daryl... Daryl Morey?
Daryl Morey: Welcome to D.A.R.Y.L., the automated GM supercomputer.
CB: Man, that's some weird humor you have going on there. Every time I meet with you it's always this weird, isn't it?
DM: Humor, of course. Improves riditory capacity by 14% while diminishing AT Fields by 15%. I am familiar.
CB: Right. What's an AT Field?
DM: The barrier between souls that no one should cross, once merely but a thought experiment from psychology, now manifest in all our models. Have I shown you our models?
CB: I'm good, thanks. so I've heard you guys are into advanced statistics, and I wanted to tell you not to acquire me. I'm bad news.
DM: Want is, but an illusion... of weaker minds. So desu ne~
CB: ... Anyway I, uh, take a lot of bullshit contested threes, and I thought you might want to hear it from me before you think about signing me on waivers. Watch FIBA from last year. It's all in the tape.
DM: "Before"? Ha. Did you really think I hadn't calculated your utility using multiple metrics? Did you think I didn't see the amnesty provision months, nay, years before it happened? Do you really expect me to think that these contested threes were anything more than an elaborate (albeit wily) ruse hatched against my very interest in you?
CB (crying): I'm...just not a very good player, man. I'm sorry. I know you've done all your analytics and made your conclusions, and I respect your intelligence. But I have such a gimpy knee, and I'm not as tough as I like to project. I'm really a soft guy at heart, and I'm sick of competing every night and getting traded around. Please, just don't pick me up.
DM: Alright, gosh. I mean, don't lie to me but yeah, I was just kidding. I wasn't really interested in you in the first place. Some players I can absolutely slay with that mecha-Morey routine, though. Too bad.
CB: Like who?
DM: Actually, it's just Shane Battier. And Ron Artest. They love that shit. Anyway, do you want to know where you'll end up?
CB: No, in some ways, I don't want to know. Your all-seeing, all-knowing gift is one that such as I-
DM: You're going to the Clippers, Chauncey. Haha. Ha. ... Hah.
CB: You're a weird guy, Daryl.
• • •
Donald Sterling (smoking a gigantic cigar): Frankly, Chauncey, I don't think you can be a cancer. Not really. Relatively speaking, of course. But I'd like to see you try.
CB: I... what the hell?
DS: Chauncey, Chauncey, Chauncey, what's your last name?
CB: Sir, it's...
DS: I know what your last name is, Chauncey. But look at how destructive that is. "Sir?" Look at how easily I did that. Look at that. Do you think you're ever going to compete with me? I'm the O.C. -- original cancer. You've got nothing on me.
CB: I don't want to compete with you. I just don't want to go to the Clippers.
DS: I might just pick you up just for saying that.
CB: Oh, please God, no. I can be a cancer. Just watch.
DS: By the way, did you know that whole economic crisis? With the mortgages?
CB: Yeah, of course.
DS: Let's just say that was my idea.
CB: Please don't pick me up.
DS: Well, I guess your little "I'm a cancer" stunt backfired on you, didn't it?
CB: I've learned my lesson, that's for sure. Please don't pick me up, sir.
• • •
Chauncey Billups has ordered a pizza from a local chain. He receives a call.
David Kahn: Why hello, Chauncey.
CB: Uh... hi. Do you have my pizza? Where are you?
DK (in a childish cackle): Oh, Chauncey. I'm more of a state of mind than a person per se, Chauncey. Say, have you seen Ricky Rubio?
CB: Um... yes, I've seen him. Listen, who is this? Where are you?
DK: I've decided to invent a new form of the Triangle Offense called the Tiny Quintuple Post, and I think your talents might be germane. Get this: Five point guards, each of their skillsets mapped to the traditional five positions, playing the Triangle Offense. You will be our Center, facing off against giants such as Tim Duncan and Pau Gasol every night, speeding past the aging trunks with the wistfulness of an owl at night. I've seen microfilms of you at the local library and I think you're quite ready for a turning point in your career, as a Center.
CB: ... Jesus Christ, I ordered a pizza, not a fanfiction. Where are you? I'm hungry.
DK: Look up. That's it, look straight up. Come to Kahn.
Chauncey looks up. David Kahn is taped to his ceiling, tied down with microfilm.
CB: Ahh!!! How the fuck did you get in my house, David?
DK: Owls, Chauncey. Owls brought me here.
CB: Uh... the Clippers already got me. You can't sign me.
DK: Is that a lie? Are you intimidated by my owls and my stoop on your chandelier?
CB: Uh... no, it's just that they claimed me on waivers, and now no one else can.
DK: That sounds like a lie.
CB: Listen, I'm banking on you not understanding the waiver rules, here. And I also would prefer the Clippers to your team.
DK: Welp. I resent it, but I can't deny it.
CB: If it's any consolation, you could probably sign J.J. Barea as your power forward. He's agile.
DK: That's so dumb. You can't build a championship team around J.J. Barea at the 4. I thought you knew basketball, Chauncey.
CB: Small forward, then?
DK: Huh. Okay, what should I pay him?
CB: Uh... like, don't go any lower than six million a year. There's no way I would play there for less than six million dollars a year. I would be insulted. I'm practically insulted by this waivers thing to be honest. Pretty bush league, Kahn.
CB: Better make it seven with taxes. Make sure you have no more room to sign marquee points, either.
DK: Why would I do that?
CB: So J.J. doesn't get jealous! God! Look at what's going on with LeBron. Hell, look at Darko.
DK: He seemed displeased.
CB: Okay, here's the important part: Sign him for about 4 years.
CB: Because that will guarantee that I'll never have to... watch you guys and know that you could have done better? Yeah.
CB: One more thing.
CB: I want you to ask Kevin Garnett to request a trade to the Wolves. He can be your center for the foreseeable future, or rather, your double center for the Quintuple Post.
DK: Oh, but I had no idea he wanted back on the Wolves.
CB: Of course he does! Uh...he's a tough sell though, you know how people are, they don't know what it is they really want, so you have to show them that you have a commitment to their well being.
DK: Of course. That makes perfect sense to me.
CB: You have to ask him tonight though. Full moon and all, wolves, that whole thing.
DK: Oh, yeah, naturally. I better leave right now.
CB: Bring your owls, of course. And close the damn front door, please.
DK: Okay. David Kahn, exeunt left!
For the first time in years, Chauncey Billups smiles.
• • •
The next day, Billups arrives at Sterling's office in a Christmas sweater with a Clippers hat.
Donald Sterling: Well, there's the finishing touch, Chauncey. I guess you'll be competing against Mo Williams at the point. How does that make you feel?
CB: Alright, I guess. Not so bad.
DS: Excuse me? What's the matter with you? Don't you understand? I own you, Chauncey. Doesn't that stir some ancestral hatred in you? I own you, like I'm running some sort of a plant--
CB: Hey, you read the recent free agent signings?
DS: Of course, Chauncey. What about them?
CB: What did JJ Barea get with the Wolves?
DS: There's nothing about that in my reports. Why?
Assistant (from next room): Mister Sterling?
Assistant: Barea got signed just now with the T'Wolves.
CB: Nine o' clock on the dot.
DS: But how could you have possibly known that, Chauncey?
CB: Let me guess, 4 years, $20 million?
DS: What are the terms of Barea's contract, just out of curiosity, Jessica?
Assistant: Oh, I think it was 4 years, $19 million. It's pretty hilarious, I think. What agent could possibly have convinced Kahn to make a hilariously misguided move like that?
CB: Let's just say I won't be playing for the Wolves anytime soon, Donald.
DS: Huh... interesting. Good work, Billups. Say, I heard you were interested in front office work back in Denver...
CB: Yes, very much so, Mr. Sterling.
DS: How would you like to work... for me? We'll go through the country and cause mayhem wherever there is prosperity or fraternity... except against me and mine. We'll be villains in arms. A Mark Knopfler song from hell.
CB: Thanks, that sounds like fun, but for the time being can I just finish out my contract playing basketball?
DS: Ah...what the hell? Sure. Basketball. Whatever.
• • •
Weeks later, a ragged and furious Kevin Garnett is banging on Chauncey Billups' door. He is covered in owl bites.
Kevin Garnett: Chauncey, open up, man, I just want to shoot the breeze.
• • •
And so it came to pass that Sam Cassell didn't join the T'Wolves, Suns, Rockets, or Nuggets. Fin.