LOS ANGELES (AP) - All Chauncey Billups had to do was show up and the mood in the locker room improved.
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Billups said. “I would just like to be walking in and putting my jersey on, of course, going out there and fighting with the guys. Obviously, I can’t do that. But on the flip side, it’s just really good to see the guys and see them just as happy to see me.”
The five-time All-Star is done for the season because of a torn left Achilles tendon. He was at Staples Center on Saturday morning before the Los Angeles Clippers played the Houston Rockets.
Billups was injured Feb. 6 during a 107-102 overtime victory at Orlando and had surgery eight days later. The Clippers were 15-7 when they learned Billups‘ season was over. They have been playing close to .500 ball since, with losses in five of their last seven. During the 15-year veteran’s absence, Randy Foye has been starting at shooting guard.
“It’s been tough, and kind of a helpless feeling,” Billups said. “It’s been a struggle, watching the inconsistency night in and night out. We were really in a rhythm when I went down. Roles had been defined, and guys had embraced their roles. Then when I went down, things kind of changed a little bit.”
The Clippers claimed Billups in December after he was waived by the New York Knicks under the league’s new amnesty clause. He averaged 15.0 points in 20 games, and is still the team’s third-leading scorer.
“I’ve looked at some games, and we’ve been playing selfishly _ both defensively and offensively,” Billups said. “We got away from what we were doing early in the season, and guys are trying to figure it out again. When we play against really good teams, we come out and play hard. But against teams we should really beat, sometimes we let our guard down and get away from our principles. And that lack of discipline hurts us.”
That could change once newly acquired Nick Young joins the Clippers. The shooting guard was acquired from Washington on Thursday in a three-team trade with Denver. He will replace Foye, his former Wizards teammate, in the starting backcourt alongside Chris Paul.
“It’s a great feeling, coming back to family and playing for a great team. You can’t wish for nothing better than that,” Young said. “It’s a dream come true. The organization wanted me and they traded for me, so I feel like I’m a part of this team already.”
Young was born in Los Angeles and was a two-time all-conference player at USC before the Wizards made him the 16th overall pick in the 2007 draft. At the time of the three-team trade, the fifth-year player was averaging 11.6 points.
“He just gives us more size in the backcourt,” coach Vinny Del Negro said. “He’s a proven scorer in this league, he’s explosive and he can take you inside and outside. How it’s all going to come together with the chemistry of the team and everything, time will tell.”
The last time Young played against the Clippers was Feb. 15. He missed his first nine shots and finished 5 for 18 with 14 points. Still, general manager Neil Olshey is confident Young will fill the team’s needs at both end of the court.
“We’ve been looking for a traditional 6-6 or 6-7 two-guard that can defend those guys on the opposition because we’ve had a lot of trouble with the bigger guards,” Olshey said. “Nick is a multidimensional scorer. He can score in pick-and-rolls, isolations, off screens, and he can catch and shoot. He’s one of the best catch-and-shoot players in the league.”
Just as important, Olshey said, is the depth Young brings to the roster.
“We can go deeper into our bench, which we’re going to need,” he said. “I mean, we’re playing six games in eight days and 10 in 14. So it’s just not going to end between now and the end of the season.”