Billups also said his concern over the amount of assets in the franchise if LeBron James left in free agency next year contributed to his decision to pass on the job.
“(Irving’s trade request) didn’t surprise me. I knew as (the Cavs) were doing their due diligence on me I was doing the same thing on them,” Billups said in an interview on the Vic Lombardi Show on Altitude Sports 950 AM in Denver on Tuesday. “I knew so much about the situation that the rest of the world doesn’t know. But it’s unfortunate man because he’s a special talent. So much of what he’s been able to accomplish on and off the floor has been as the beneficiary of LeBron James. That would be alarming to me if I was a team looking to get him.”
Billups said he’s surprised Irving would want a trade away from James.
“You’re getting everything you want,” Billups said. “You’re getting all the shots you want, you’re playing for a great coach, when the game is on the line they’re coming to you, you’re playing on national TV every week. To me, I don’t get it. Everybody has their own desires. Maybe he wants to be Russell Westbrook and go try to win the MVP and get all the shots. That’s the only thing sense I can make of it and to me that doesn’t make sense.”
Billups didn’t speak with James until after he decided to turn down the job and James’ plans for 2018 when he can become a free agent didn’t directly factor into the decision.
“The whole LeBron leaving the next year, to be honest that didn’t bother me that much,” Billups said. “Here’s why: When you have an opportunity to really put something together and put your imprint on it — rebuilding is a beautiful thing if the (owner) is going to have the patience with you. What bothered me more than if LeBron left or not was I didn’t think they had great assets if you have to do a rebuild. It was more that than Bron. Bron and I have always had an amazing relationship.”
Billups said the two-week process interviewing with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was positive. He withdraw from consideration for the job on July 3. Reportedly, Gilbert offered him an initial contract of less than $2 million per season for the president of basketball operations role.
“It was a great process. That team is a great team, a lot of expectations, lot of pressure with that team. But I didn’t mind that, that’s been a my entire career: a lot of stress and a lot of pressure,” Billups said. “At the end, in my spirit, it just didn’t quite feel like it was the right time at the end. It was one of those gut things. I felt good about it. I talked to Dan about it afterwards and I thanked him for giving me such a good opportunity and we will remain friends.
“I don’t need the job, I love my life. This ESPN thing has been fun and I’ll just wait until it feels right.”