Like most Detroit Pistons fans, I always believed that Chauncey Billups should never have been traded for Allen Iverson. Billups experienced his first real taste of success in Detroit and in return all the fans embraced him. That's why he should have been allowed to stay in Detroit for the rest of his career and retire a Piston.
Now is the time for Billups to come back.
While Billups helped the Pistons on the court to a championship in 2004 and back to the finals in 2005, in my opinion it was his leadership and personality that made the biggest impact.
Billups doesn't come close to resembling the player that he was a few years ago, but he would be the perfect mentor for Brandon Knight. Knight needs to develop into the point guard of the future for the Pistons, and who better to show him how than the previous star point guard.
At 36 years old, Billups has only played in three games this season for the Los Angeles Clippers. But superstar point guard Chris Paul showed he knows how valuable Billups is when he spoke in June about how important he is to the Clippers. Paul told Chris Dempsey from the Denver Post:
That was the best backcourt mate I played with since I’ve been in the NBA. He just gave me so much confidence and made things so much easier for me. So I need him back and want him back with the Clippers.
When you hear an All-Star point guard like Paul rave about Billups, you can imagine him back at The Palace of Auburn Hills constantly in Knight's ear telling him what decisions he needs to make on the court.
Billups' minutes would be severely limited and he likely won't win games like he used to in his prime, but he could excel at playing the role of "player coach." As Billups told Jonathan Abrams at Grantland, "I always believed that to become a great leader, you have to be a great follower." Stuff like that can't be taught by coaches—only a player with a track record can say that and have that kind of instant credibility in the locker room.
Besides being a mentor for Knight, Billups deserves to finish his career in the place where he had his greatest success and in front of his adoring fans.
Billups himself hasn't ruled out a return to the Pistons—something made apparent when he told Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News, "I never wanted to leave, even though I was home (Denver) and it was good to be home, I always wanted to be a Piston. I wanted to retire a Piston."
Billups and the Pistons need each other and need to make it happen. Hopefully the Pistons do the right thing for the young players on the team, the fans and Billups.