After Dan Gilbert’s surprise decision three days before the 2017 NBA draft not to offer general manager David Griffin a new contract, the Cleveland Cavaliers owner targeted Chauncey Billups to become the team’s president of basketball operations. The two sides never came to an agreement, with Billups withdrawing his name from consideration because the “timing just isn’t right.” (Among other reported reasons.)
On Tuesday, Billups revealed on “The Vic Lombardi Show” on Altitude Sports 950 AM another possible reason that the two sides could never come to an agreement.
“[Kyrie Irving’s trade request] didn’t surprise me. I knew as [the Cavs] were doing their due diligence on me, I was doing the same thing on them,” Billups said. “I knew so much about the situation that the rest of the world doesn’t know. But it’s unfortunate, man, because he’s a special talent. So much of what he’s been able to accomplish on and off the floor has been as the beneficiary of LeBron James. That would be alarming to me, if I was a team looking to get him.”
Of course, Billups is alluding to the bombshell news that the Cavaliers’ star point guard demanded a trade a week ago due to frustration over playing in the shadow of LeBron and a long-held desire to be the focal point of a team.
The 2004 NBA champion, who famously shared the spotlight with fellow All-Stars Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace and Richard Hamilton during his tenure with the Detroit Pistons, said he was surprised that Irving was not satisfied with his role in Cleveland playing alongside one of the greatest players of all time.
“You’re getting everything you want,” Billups said during the radio interview. “You’re getting all the shots you want. You’re playing for a great coach. When the game is on the line, they’re coming to you. You’re playing on national TV every week. To me, I don’t get it. Everybody has their own desires. Maybe he wants to be Russell Westbrook and go try to win the MVP and get all the shots. That’s the only sense I can make of it and to me that doesn’t make sense.”
Cavs owner Gilbert reportedly lowballed Billups by offering him a $2 million annual salary to join the Cavaliers, but it would be hard to believe that the internal turmoil Billups sensed during the interview process didn’t play a role in his decision to ultimately not take the job.