Cleveland: Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups realised his worst fears when an MRI exam on Tuesday revealed he has a torn left Achilles' tendon that will end his first season with the team.
But the 35-year-old Billups doesn't plan on retiring. "No, sir. There is no way I'm going to crawl out of the league," Billups said. "I'm going to be back. Trust me."
Billups was examined at the Cleveland Clinic and he will return to Los Angeles today for further evaluation. No date has been set for his surgery, but it is expected that Billups will be sidelined at least eight months while recovering from the injury, meaning he will also miss this summer's London Olympics.
"I'll get it taken care of and get back the best way I can. That's exactly what I'm going to do," he said.
His contract with the Clippers runs out after this season, but Billups said he wants to return to the Clippers — if the feeling is mutual. "I've really enjoyed it," he said.
"The movement that the team has going on, it's fun and I love it. Obviously I feel like there's some unfinished business there. Of course they've got to move on without me and try to replace me. I respect that too. And I'll be around. It's not like I'll be gone."
"I feel sick for him," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He brings so many intangibles, so much leadership. I feel terrible for him."
Billups was injured midway through the fourth quarter of the Clippers' overtime victory over the Orlando Magic on Monday night. He had missed a three-point shot and tried to go after his miss, but fell to the court. He wasn't touched by any player when he went down. Billups said after the game that "it felt like somebody kicked me".
The Clippers claimed the five-time All-Star through an auction bid in December after Billups was waived by the New York Knicks under the NBA's new amnesty provision. The Clippers are paying Billups $2 million (Dh7.3 million) and the Knicks are on the books for the rest of his $14.2-million salary.
Billups averaged 14.9 points and four assists in 20 games for the Clippers. A 15-year veteran who has played for eight NBA teams — he played for the Denver Nuggets twice — Billups has a career average of 15.5 points.
"It's a big blow for us, all the things that Chauncey brings off the court, on the court," Del Negro said. "We're just going to have to have other guys step up and we're going to have to move forward and do whatever we can to support him and handle this as best we can."
The Clippers said it will be up to Billups to determine if he's willing to go through the long recovery process to come back and play a 16th NBA season. "He's got to have surgery and rehab and see where he's at," Del Negro said. "Those are all questions that will be answered here as he moves forward with the severity of it."