Chauncey Billups doesn't clear waivers until Monday at 6 p.m., but the intrigue about his next destination is already starting to bubble.
The Charlotte Bobcats, according to sources familiar with the Bobcats' thinking, are pondering whether to lodge a bid for Billups despite the 35-year-old's threats of retirement if he's not allowed to pass through waivers and become an unrestricted free agent.
Billups told ESPNNewYork.com's Ian O'Connor that he will strongly consider retiring from the NBA if he's claimed off waivers by a team he deems undesirable. But Bobcats owner Michael Jordan is the sort of risk taker presumably willing to ignore the retirement talk and hope he could then talk Billups into giving life in Charlotte a try for the rest of the season.
"If I get claimed by a team I don't want to play for, I would absolutely consider retirement," Billups said Sunday. "The game's been really good to me, and I don't want anyone to feel bad for me. I've made a lot of money, and I've saved most of it. I don't need the money now. I want to be able to play for something, a championship, and I want to be able to have my own destiny in my hands. If I don't, then retiring might have to be a decision I make."
The Knicks released Billups on Friday through the amnesty clause in the NBA's new labor pact, needing to shed his $14.2 million expiring salary from the books to have sufficient salary-cap space to complete the sign-and-trade acquisition of Tyson Chandler.
Miller said his client raised the possibility of retirement after news broke that the Knicks were close to an agreement with Chandler. Billups also didn't want to leave Denver last February when he was shipped to New York in the Carmelo Anthony trade.
"Chauncey's pissed off, but he's not pissed at the Knicks," Miller said. "He understands it's a business and they have to do what they have to do.
"But he's in a very frustrated state of mind because this has happened to him twice now. The way the league is structured, if you're a hot name and teams have interest in you, you have the ability to manufacture mass hysteria, and guys like Chauncey who put in years of high-level leadership, production, and service get lost."
The Miami Heat are widely believed to be the top suitor for Billups if he does make it to unrestricted free agency. Miller said numerous teams have expressed interest in Billups but that the five-time All-Star has not yet begun to sift through the options.
"It would be a complete waste of time right now," Miller said, "because it's been a very trying time for Chauncey.
"He enjoyed the city life in New York and had no gripes about his time there. But if he's picked up in a situation he doesn't want, maybe he retires, or he retires for one year, I don't know. If he can't choose his destiny and he's only there for 66 games, I think he'd much rather stay at home until the season is over."