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Knicks pick up option on Chauncey Billups

New York Knicks v Miami Heat

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 27: Chauncey Billups #4 of the New York Knicks stands on the court during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on February 27, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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He’s not cheap at $14.2 million a year, and he’s not young at age 35 by next playoffs.

But the Knicks were not going to find a better point guard for their team next season.

So they picked up the option on Chauncey Billups, the team announced Wednesday.

“We have made a decision to keep Chauncey Billups for the upcoming 2011-12 season,” team president Donnie Walsh said in a released statement. “Chauncey, Amar’e and Carmelo are a great nucleus, as we continue to look to improve our team going into the off-season. Chauncey is an extremely talented and experienced point guard — we are very happy to have him back.”

This was the smart move by the Knicks.

Billups is not the long-term answer, but once the lockout is over there will not be a long-term point guard answer out there on the market. Billups is a good short-term answer and this is a one-year deal so it does not mess with Knicks long-term plans. While the Denver native may have balked at being traded to the Knicks to start with, Billups adjusted and brings them 17.5 points per game and 5.5 assists per game. It took him a while to get used to Mike D’Antoni’s system but by the end he was not turning the ball over much and his shooting percentages should improve from 40.3 percent. He’s not an ideal fit but he’s a pro and a solid fit.

It also brings a veteran presence both Stoudemire and Anthony respect to the locker room to help keep things in line. This guy has a ring and a finals MVP, which is what the other Knicks want.

Billups also is a huge potential trading chip next year should a point guard of the future (*cough*Chris Paul*cough*) become available via trade. But it does mean the Knicks have $53 million locked up in ‘Melo, Amar’e and Billups so if they are going to make any kind of serious move Billups could be the bait via trade.