GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Raymond Felton played a vital role in the Knicks' resurgence this season, but the swap of Felton for veteran Chauncey Billups as part of the blockbuster Carmelo Anthony trade is hardly a downgrade at the point guard position.
"They call him Mr. Big Shot for a reason," Amar'e Stoudemire said over the weekend.
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Billups comes with an impressive resume, which includes an MVP in the 2005 NBA Finals with the Detroit Pistons, and the kind of respected leadership skills that is expected to have a major impact on the young locker room.
"Chauncey's obviously a solid player, man," Stoudemire said. "He's won championships and knows how to win. You never know, any time you get veteran guys together, you can work everything out. It works itself out."
His vast experience, however, also means he's old. Billups, 34, has eight years on Felton and isn't nearly the defender that Felton is at the point guard position. The 6-3, 202-pound veteran also isn't known to play up-tempo, which is how Mike D'Antoni likes to play, but that doesn't mean he won't succeed in the system.
"I don't care if they jet it up, I don't care," D'Antoni said. "He can get it up there. And then it's the rhythm that you play and Chauncey is one of those point guards where he'll establish his rhythm. He will play the way Chauncey wants to play. And I think that's the way great point guards do it."
Billups does do one thing that D'Antoni loves: shoot the ball. He's one of the best three-point shooters in the league this season at 44.1 percent, which will be the most notable improvement over Felton. Billups struggled with his shot earlier this season, mainly because of a partially torn ligament in his right (shooting hand) wrist that has since healed.
His ability to shoot is a valuable weapon in the pick-and-roll, especially because when guards go below the pick, it allowed Billups the space to get off his shot. And though he doesn't race the ball up the court on the break, he does like to get the ball up the floor quickly with passes, which would fit D'Antoni's style.