With Chauncey Billups heading to the Clippers, the Heat will have to depend more on Mario Chalmers.
MIAMI -- The Heat may still have an vacant roster spot, but it won't be filled by Chauncey Billups any time soon.
The 35-year-old veteran point guard will play for the Los Angeles Clippers this season after the team claimed him on secondary waivers. The Miami Heat were hoping that Billups would fall through waivers unclaimed, which would allow the veteran to become an unrestricted free agent.
The Clippers were announced as the winners of a silent auction where teams under the salary cap could put in a bid for the former All-Star after he was waived using the amnesty clause by the New York Knicks on Saturday. According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers were in the same boat as the Heat, hoping to nab Billups in free agency if it ever came to that.
The move by the Clippers effectively ends any hope he will play for the Heat this season and fill the 15th and final spot on the Miami roster. By league rules, Billups, as an amnesty cut, cannot be traded until July 1. Furthermore, Billups could jeopardize his $14.2 owed to him this season if he refuses to suit up for the Clippers, according to Stein.
Earlier on Monday, Chris Bosh said he would welcome Billups to the Heat if he were to pass through the secondary waiver process.
"I would like to see Chauncey," Bosh said at the Heat's media day. "Any player with his talent, leadership, his capability on the court. He’s Mr. Big Shot. He has that name for a reason."
Billups would have been a key addition to the Heat, who lack a veteran starter at point guard. As things stand now, the Heat will head into the Christmas day opener against the Mavericks with 25-year-old Mario Chalmers as the starting point guard and rookie Norris Cole as his backup. Eddie House, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can also take over ball handling duties if need be.
When asked about the potential for the Heat to make additional moves, coach Erik Spoelstra said it was up to Heat president Pat Riley, before issuing a vote of confidence in his current roster.
"The best part about my job is that’s Pat’s job," Spoelstra said. "I think we have enough. At the same time, I know the personality of my boss. [Pat Riley]'s always pushing and trying to improve our organization. If we see something that we think helps and makes sense, Pat has proven that he’ll pull the trigger."
Riley didn't even have a chance to pull the trigger on Billups. Instead, the bulk of the weight falls on Chalmers' shoulders, who started on and off for the Heat last season. He was inked to the starting lineup in Game 6 of the Finals and responded in a big way, scoring 18 points and recording seven assists.
Compared to starting point guards for other title contenders, Chalmers has a lot of work cut out for him, but he's in a unique situation on the Heat. Alongside the Heat's trio of stars, the Kansas product's primary responsibilities will be to spread the floor, slow down opposing point guards and occasionally bring the ball up on the floor. Chalmers has shown he's up to the task after he came alive in last season's playoffs, shooting 38.1 percent from downtown and raising his player efficiency rating from 10.3 in the regular season to 12.4 in the postseason.
Despite his notoriously volatile performances, the Heat decided to stick with Chalmers for the long haul, signing him to a three-year deal worth $12 million on Friday.
With Billups off the board, that appears to be money well spent. Although Bosh thinks Billups would have been a great fit with the Heat, he said he remained confident the Heat will be just fine should Chalmers and Cole run the show.
"We have to move on with what we have," Bosh said. "If [a Billups signing] happens, that would be great. If it doesn’t, we still expect to be a good team."