NBA

Billups not likely to make Nuggets' Wednesday game

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The Canadian Press
11/4/2008 6:39:56 PM
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DENVER - Denver coach George Karl has been petitioning for a pure point guard, a player with a proclivity for passing.

He got his wish when the Nuggets acquired Chauncey Billups from Detroit on Monday in a trade involving Allen Iverson.

Now, Karl needs to tweak the offence, restructuring it from Iverson's shoot-first mentality to Billups' pass-often mind-set.

Not that he minds the challenge.

''We all get excited when you've got a point guard that's special,'' Karl said Tuesday. ''I think he's an orchestrator of winning. He'll help everybody get better shots. He'll help me coach the game.''

Karl has been searching for just such a point guard since surrendering Andre Miller to the Philadelphia 76ers in the trade that brought Iverson to town in December 2006.

''I think it fits, it fits what we need,'' said Karl, who's not expected to have Billups available Wednesday at Golden State, but should have him Friday against Dallas. ''But when you make a trade, there's a nervous depression - `Is this the right thing? Will it work out? How's it going to work out?'''

Besides acquiring Billups, the Nuggets got Antonio McDyess and Cheikh Samb from the Pistons.

If McDyess ends up playing for the Nuggets, it will be his third time with the team. But there's a chance the cost-cutting Nuggets could buy out his contract.

''We'll let you know something when we know something,'' Nuggets vice president of player personnel Rex Chapman said after practice Tuesday.

Karl wouldn't mind having McDyess around, a forward who's retooled his game after serious knee injuries.

''Antonio used to be a runner, an athlete, a rebounder, a rim-hitter,'' Karl said. ''Now, he plays the game. He'd be good for us.''

After a day to digest the news of the deal, the Nuggets were looking forward to the arrival of Billups for his second stint in Denver. They don't think he will take long to get acclimated.

They can't afford any lag time.

''He's got to learn quick, because he's going to get put in the rotation quick,'' guard Anthony Carter said.

Part of the reason the trade took place was because the Nuggets saw shooting guard J.R. Smith's growth stymied. By trading Iverson, they cleared more minutes for him and received a coveted point guard in return.

Smith appreciates the faith.

''They're putting trust in me,'' he said. ''I've got to go out there and play the way I'm supposed to play.''

He's eager to see what Billups can bring to the Nuggets. Although, Smith already has a pretty good idea since Billups led Detroit to six straight Eastern Conference finals, winning it all in 2004.

''His reputation is unbelievable,'' Smith said. ''He's a great leader.''

But he's quite a different player than Iverson, which will take some getting used to.

''Chauncey's more of a distributor, but he can score, he can shoot the ball,'' Smith said. ''A.I. was more of a scorer who could score in bunches. When he's hot, he's unbelievable. He played hard every day.''

Does Smith prefer a passer at point?

''That's tough,'' he said. ''You always want people who can score, but you also need someone who can distribute the ball.''

Billups brings both. That's why Karl can't wait to work with him, telling his new point guard as much in a phone conversation Monday night.

''He's excited, but there's a part of him that will miss Detroit,'' Karl said. ''I think every day he'll be more excited to see this new team. There's a freshness to being with a new team. There's an enjoyment to being with a new team.''

It's not really a new team, though. Billups played parts of two seasons for the Nuggets and remains a popular figure in the Mile High City, a Denver high school prodigy who went on to play at the University of Colorado.

''There are very few players that have a connection as much as Chauncey has with the city of Denver,'' Karl said. ''That specialness has an excitement.''

Chauncey Billups and Allen Iverson (Photo: Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
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