Auburn Hills — Of the eight new Pistons, only Chauncey Billups had to practice putting back on the hometown white uniform before Monday’s media day.
“I had to, so it wouldn’t feel weird today,” said the 37-year-old guard who was reacquired in the offseason via free agency. “It feels like home.”
When asked if he’d done that for the Clippers, Knicks or Nuggets, the teams he played for since being traded in 2008, he replied with a smile.
“This means a little something different, as you can imagine,” he said.
He acknowledged things have changed since he re-signed with the Pistons, considering they completed a trade for point guard Brandon Jennings shortly after. Billups initially said he returned to Detroit to play point guard, so plans have changed.
There’s a possibility he starts at shooting guard alongside Jennings, as new coach Maurice Cheeks can go with Billups, Rodney Stuckey or even rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
“I’ll tell you what: I’ll always consider myself to be a starter and a point guard,” Billups said. “Since then we’ve upgraded that spot. (Jennings is) a fantastic young player. I’m not here to be a star. I had my 15 minutes of fame, enjoyed it. But I do feel I can be very effective in whatever position Coach puts me in.”
If that happens, he expects to be a shooting guard in title only, not necessarily in that role. While with the Clippers, he played alongside Chris Paul, who’s generally regarded as the best point guard in the game. Taking the ball out of Paul’s hands wasn’t an option, and Billups’ injuries limited him to 42 games over the past two seasons.
“Here’s my thing: I don’t mind playing the two only if I’m able to play like a point guard,” Billups said. “Control it, play with the ball in my hands, make plays, have an effect on the game.”
Billups said he’s excited about the upside of the team, headlined by Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and new addition Josh Smith and noted by LeBron James as being one of the most improved teams in the NBA.
Seeing packed houses back at The Palace, as was the case when the Pistons were making yearly runs to the conference finals and NBA Finals, is surely something he’s looking forward to.
“That would mean a great deal. I know it’s been a lot different the last few years,” Billups said. “I’m not saying we’ll be like we were, that takes time. But we won’t be like it’s been the last three or four years.”
A new Pistons fan
Interesting exchange when the subject of Nickelodeon star Jeannette McCurdy was brought up to Andre Drummond, whom Drummond courted for a date via twitter in the offseason. The two have chronicled their dates and interactions via social media this summer.
“I thought we were talking basketball, but I had no idea it would be this big. I was really excited that it happened,” Drummond said.
“She’s adorable!” a reporter said.
“Yes, she is.”
“Is she a Pistons fan already?”
“Yeah, she is.”
And that was that.
Media Day is prime ground for playoff predictions and Josh Smith, fresh off getting there every year in Atlanta, sees that as the floor for this team.
“I expect the same. We’re a really good basketball team,” Smith said. “We’ve come together the last couple weeks. I don’t expect anything less than the playoffs. I just pay attention to what spot we’re in. We’re a confident bunch.”