Report: Billups Ahead Of Schedule

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – With the Los Angeles Lakers dominating the headlines in the Southland this summer after their high-profile additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, it’s easy to forget that it’s been an interesting offseason for the city’s other NBA franchise.

The Clippers didn’t make the same splash in free agency or with a trade, but they will welcome back a key figure in their operation when veteran point guard Chauncey Billups finally returns from the left Achilles injury that cost him everything after Feb. 6.

The Clippers survived without Billups, but there was a lingering feeling that a healthy Billups could have helped lengthen the Clippers’ postseason run. And now comes word that he’s healing faster than perhaps anyone thought possible, a development that is sure to bring a smile to the face of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin (who is on the mend from knee surgery himself).

More from Helene Elliott of The Los Angeles Times:

“When my body feels right, that’s when I’ll be back,” he said. “That being said, I’m far ahead of schedule.

“It’s not even like I had a summer. I’ve been on the whole time, doing rehabbing and other work every day. I’m looking forward to getting back to playing and being with the guys and resuming my normal life as a player.”

Billups became the Clippers’ glue in his 20 starts before his injury, adding poise and experience to the 14.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists he averaged over 30.4 minutes. He was a leader on the court and in the locker room, providing guidance to Chris Paul and a voice of knowledge for Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe.

Even after his Feb. 15 surgery left him to clomp around in a protective boot, he dispensed advice and analysis from a seat near the bench.

“He has very good insight, great experience and he’s been successful at every level,” Coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Some of our younger players, by the way he approaches them and gets things across, it’s very easy for them to accept and listen to.”

Billups stayed in Los Angeles most of the summer to work out with teammates and coaches, pushing himself when it felt right and easing up when necessary.

“I never one time thought I wouldn’t come back or had doubts that I would come back because I knew was going to do everything I could,” said Billups, who will turn 36 on Sept. 25, four days before the Clippers open training camp.

“Twenty years ago this injury was like a death sentence. The way the world of technology is now, I knew there were a lot of guys that made it back from this injury and I was going to be the next one.”

We felt Billups was far more important than some of the pundits expected he would be for the Clippers before his injury last season. Billups’ leadership and experience in a locker room that was largely devoid of said things before the arrival of Paul and Billups accentuated the importance of it for both men.

And we feel the same can be said this time around. The Clippers need what Billups brings on and off the floor this season, maybe even more so than last year. Expectations were greater than usual then, but not off the chains (to borrow a phrase from yesteryear) as they are now after the addition of Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom.

The rotation will be sorted out later. But it’s obvious the Clippers will have backcourt options galore with Billups healthy and in the mix with Paul, Crawford and Bledsoe, a mix that should prove to be the strength of this team.

33 Comments

  1. Clippers93 says:

    With Chauncey back in the swing of things Clippers have a better chance of being successful, yeah they may not be a power house team, but they need that veteran instinct, hence the reason the Clippers were swept by SA. Bringing in Grant Hill was a major win for the Clippers

  2. Clippers93 says:

    With Chauncey back in the swing of things Clippers have a better chance of being successful, yeah they may not be a power house team, but they need that veteran instinct, hence the reason the Clippers were swept by SA.

  3. bfan says:

    Don’t forget Grant Hill!

  4. MonMon says:

    lakers may have the best starting five…but what about their bench?? how can their bench support their lineup?? i think the clips still has the better rotation…

  5. Answer1982 says:

    There are so many unknowns it this equation i.e.Billups, Griffins and CP3 health, on the Clippers side and on the Lakers side Kobe , Nash and Howard. The other ? marks are
    - How will the Clipps use Odom ? and how much effort is he willing to put into his game.
    It’s hard to imagine that will show anything less then 100% commitment to the game and Team succes , playing alongside future hall of famers Mr. Big Shot, CP3, Grant Hill and arguably the most exciting player in this decade if not even the century . Blake Griifin,(who i hope will incease his FT% and mid range jumper % )
    Odom can play 3,5 positions SF, PF (power or point forward) or Center depending on the matchups,
    -Jamal Crawford should be able to provide an instant spark from the bench, Bledsoe and Jordan will improve they game further making the Clippers ,quite the package great playmakers, scorers, defenders and mix of veterans with talented Young Guns.

  6. CLIP SHOW OVER THE LAKERS says:

    Ok here goes, Lakers are deep on paper, no doubt, BUT consider this, I think every one would agree the Lakers best player is the Black Mamba right? With Steve Nash running the point, you are going to see an endless stream of pick & roll (Dwight if his back is ok) or pick and pop (Pau) basketball, so uless Kobe becomes ultra efficient and drop 20+ with only 18 or so FGA like 99-00 version you are going to see some serious ego issues tear up this team. You have arguably the 2 largest personalities in the NBA on the same team, and before you even start dont even make the comparison to SHAQ/KOBE 3 peat because there was no doubting who the alfa dog was in that relatiobship, and when there was doubts they lost the chip (with Malone – even injured he was better than pretty much every power forward in the league, Payton, and a much younger stone cold Derek Fisher mind you) to a TEAM in Detroit, and to add insult to injury, the media is hyping Dwights coming to LA so hard that he is going to be riding a bigger ego than when he was getting hated on in Orlando. I could be totally off here but if any of you have read “The Book of Basketball” you will know what I mean, this years Lakers have too many pieces that dont know “the secret”.

    Now you talk about the Clips, you have a back court of the best all round PG in league (Chris Paul), the second best mentor/winner in the league (Billups – Tim Duncan is the other by the way), athleticism to burn that take instruction seemingly quite well (Griffen, Jordan etc), experienced vets (Hill, Odom etc) and all of them play team ball, BUT here is the real tipping points as I see it, if either of these develop CLIPS will take the LAKESHOW this year

    Griffens jumper as soon as he steps out of the key.If Griffen can hit that thing consistantly (not 24%, or whatever it was last year) OR

    Griffens free throw percentage. If he can get that anywhere from 70% onwards then there wont be so many empty possessions when the CLIPS isso Griffen.

    All other faccets negate each other, rebounding (Clips), defence (Tied – note: Dwights is a good help/weak side defender, and he should be seeing as he is a physical marvel, but against strong bodies esp’ 1 on 1 he is prone to foul trouble), offence (Lakers), Game Management (Tied now that Billups is back), Leadership (Tied – but I would give the “right” leadership edge to the Clips), Athletisism (Clips), Toughness (tied – both strong men, Dwight and Griffen cry like women, and both teams gards Kobe, CP3, Nash and Billups are tough as nails), Clutch (Lakers).

    Both tams have strengths and weakness’ that can be exposed (and we havent even started to discuss the bench, which we probably should but this is already too long), but the way I see it the west will be won by the players that work the hardest on thier games in the off season – BLAKE?!? (get well soon btw)

  7. Don't EVER CLICK MY NAME!! You Have Been Warned!!! says:

    Great News, Billups, is very underrated.

  8. Mick says:

    I really like Blake Griffin, but some of his most famous dunks have to be offensive fouls. His left elbow is literally in the face of the opponent. That has to hurt!

  9. JoeeeyLopez says:

    I think the Thunder better hope they don’t meet up with the Clippers at any point in the playoffs because I think the one team (Besides the Lakers of course) who will beat them in a 7 game series is the Clip Show… They have all the same talent and size and althleticism as the Thunder. Also, In the regular season last year the Clippers won the season series with the thunder 3-1 with two of those games being a double digit victory… So, All I’m saying is the Clips have the Thunders Number and I take the Clippers over the Thunder If the teams are matched up in the Playyoffs.

    Then again none of that matters because the Lakers are winning it all this year….

  10. CP3toStayinLA says:

    It appears people are sleeping on this year’s Clippers team. They have a very solid starting 5 and a true bench with depth. If everyone stays healthy, the Clips can come out of the west this year.

    • Belizeboy says:

      I agree. The Clippers really have the best lineup to me, but their health is my main concern. The semi vs the Spurs was more a showing of guys too banged up rather than their inexperience. This year if they can avoid injuries it will be them vs OKC IMO.

  11. Garbage Time says:

    There is ‘Garbage Time’ in games – we know that.

    Then there is garbage time at NBA.com, when writers write for the sake of writing (and PLEASE don’t think I am claiming there are ever times when the reason is different … at least, for some of them).

    If Sekou Smith gets a penny for every word he writes, he must be making a million dollars … a week.

    If he gets bonuses based on stirring up emotions and reader response …….. (I am outta words) !!!

  12. HeatKingsOfEast says:

    if the lakers won’t win championship this 2013, it’s nearly impossible for kobe having his 6th ring. 2013 is the best chance for la to win champs. it’s hard to say if howard will leave la if they didn’t win. as how the los angeles giving him and nash incredible publicity. but i think howard will stay in la and be the next franchise player of lakers, and will join the ringless club of barkley

  13. RYan says:

    Championship, here we come

    • JoeeeyLopez says:

      Hahahaha!!!!!… You’re Joking Right? Clips Can’t, Won’t, & Never Will Win a championship as long as they’re in LA with the LAKERS… They should just move back to San Diego or something.

      • MHM 35 says:

        Wait what? that makes no sense. What does them being in LA have anything to do with whether or not the Clips can win it all? I mean I’m a LAL fan but for real man? The Clips can’t win, and not because they don’t have the right pieces, not because they’re poorly coached, not because of anything else you could’ve said, but BECAUSE THEY HAPPEN TO ALSO BE IN LOS ANGELES? Quit trippin and say something smart rather than being ignorant.

        I certainly expect the Lakers to go further than the Clippers, but it’s not because Lakers fans and organization have some sort of willpower to keep Clips from winning with their mind and saying stupid things. It’ll be because the Clippers don’t execute, or that Vinny Del Negro doesn’t find a way to make all the pieces go together if the Clips lose.

  14. Lame says:

    Good English skills mate

  15. Travis says:

    Take your time Billups they can make the playoffs without you. At his age I would take my time and go for the playoff run

  16. Paitian says:

    Lakers is much better than clips

    • and always have been….thanks captain obvious!

    • integ710 says:

      hater. dwight will leave after this season.

      • Ron Macaron says:

        I don’t think Howard will ever leave the Lakers at all. That’s the place and franchise each NBA player wishes to belong. Hollywood, glamour, best franchise and best line up? Howard wants championships. Not just 1, but as many as he wants. He is not a dumb person to let the opportunity slip away from him.

      • Belizeboy says:

        @Ron, not every NBA player wants to go to the Lakers. Laker fans want every great NBA player to go to their team. It’s a big difference.

      • fanof24 says:

        What if Lakers will be the Champion this coming season 2012-2013… Yes I agree with “Ron Macaron” Dwight Howard wants Championships…

        I think “Belizeboy” means every player wants a Ring… that Lakers one of the Team in the NBA can provide that with 16 Title.

        And maybe DH#12 want more money… lol
        so that Dwight Howard will leave the Lakers after 2012-2013 NBA Season.

      • Belizeboy says:

        @fanof24, I know Howard wants to win championships and going to LA is actually a good move for him, but it doesn’t gurantee him anything. It’s just a very brazen statement by Ron to say ALL players wish to play in LA when it simply isn’t true.

    • Belizeboy says:

      Historically yes, but this season we’ll have to wait and see who dominates LA. I think the Clippers roster (healthy) has more potential than the Lakers this coming season.

      • fanof24 says:

        I agree with you,

        Most of the Team has Renewed their Lineup… like MAVS… they got O.M, D.J. CK, EB and more with Dirk N. of course.. I’m so excited what happened in the opening game between My Team and Sir Cuban’s Team…

    • chalice says:

      Lakers as well as the Clippers have many question marks. I have always been a Billups fan and if you remember, it was the pistons led by billups that beat the team of Kobe-Shaq-Payton_Malone. Billups is a born leader and if you notice, teams with billups usually are very good (Denver: Exhibit A). Lakers big questions are the health of Dwight Howard (back), Nash’s defense, which Pau comes to play and above all, EGO. As for the Clips, the questions are Griffin’s free throw and jump shot (huge), Billups health, and which Lamar Odom comes to play. Remember that Clippers have Grant Hill as well. I’m not so sold on the Lakers just yet. Kobe is Kobe, but he’s slowing down, Chris Paul is better than Nash at this point hands down, Griffin with a jump shot is downright scary, Hill and Odom on the Clippers bench negates the Lakers bench. Dwight may have his way in the paint but DeAndre will get better as he’ll see Dwight more than twice a season. All in all, Lakers have great potential but don’t be surprised if the Clippers catch them.

    • Patrick Harry says:

      Lakers ARE so much better… not necessarily saying I agree, just a small grammatical error that annoys me

    • tigsy221 says:

      well done you arnt u clever

    • how? lakers are nice but clippers are to deep

    • zgillet says:

      Think about both teams in 3 or 4 years…….