Pistons fans, you can bring out your old Chauncey Billups jerseys after all.
At Billups' welcome-home press conference Tuesday at the Palace, the team announced that they had worked out a deal with the NBA to let Billups wear the No. 1 jersey that he sported during his first stint with the team.
Under league rules, the NBA could have forced Andre Drummond to keep No. 1, since he didn't give proper notice of a planned number change, but a waiver was granted. Drummond, who tweeted after the Pistons signed Billups that he wanted to give him the No. 1 jersey, will now wear No. 0.
That was just the beginning of a big day for the organization. Not only is Billups back, albeit a few years too late to undo one of the biggest mistakes of Joe Dumars' career, but owner Tom Gores issued a rare statement about the team.
"Were on our way to fulfilling our promise to revitalize this franchise and make the Pistons competitive again," Gores said. ""Were not finished yet, and we still need to prove it on the floor. But Im pleased with the moves weve made so far."
Tuesday, the focus was on Billups -- the leader of the 2004 championship both on and off the floor. Before he agreed to come back to Detroit, he had to thaw out his relationship with Dumars, one that had been damaged by the ill-fated trade that sent him to Denver for Allen Iverson.
"I was hurt by what happened -- how it went down," Billups said. "Joe and I had a great relationship, but that bruised it for a while. We had to take care of that."
Dumars helped the process by admitting that the trade was the worst one he's made as Detroit's general manager, but insisted this move isn't about the past.
"When you sit in this chair, you have to own what you do," he said. "I wish I could have that one back, and I told him that. But this isn't about making amends. We brought Chauncey in here to play point guard. We want the ball in his hands, making decisions. That's what he does best."
Billups said that he's recovered from the injuries that plagued him in Los Angeles, and he's ready to resume his role as Detroit's point guard. That would allow Brandon Knight to play the hybrid role that worked well for him last season, with Will Bynum available to pick up extra minutes at the point.
"I'm not coming here as a mentor and a coach," he said. "I'm coming to play. Yes, I want to finish my career here -- I've always wanted to be remembered as a Piston -- but I also want to be the guy who helps these guys get to the top. I want to do something special again."
Billups said that even as he moved from Denver to New York and Los Angeles, he kept an eye on the Pistons. He didn't enjoy it.
"This city and organization are huge with basketball tradition, and I hated how the Palace looked with no one here," he said. "I want to be a part of bringing the franchise back to where it was, because I know this city deserves a winner."
Dumars is comfortable enough with Billups at the point and Knight learning from him that he flatly denied media reports that he had discussed trading for Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings. The Bucks are run by John Hammond, who spent years in Detroit's front office.
"I haven't been talking about trades with John, we've been talking about dogs," Dumars said. "We have the same kind of dogs."
Dumars knows guard play about as well as anyone, and new Pistons head coach Maurice Cheeks has his own NBA championship ring, earned as a point guard. If they are happy with Billups, Knight and Bynum, along with other additions like Josh Smith and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, then Gores is happy as well.
"Joe Dumars and the basketball operations team have put a lot of pieces in place to move this team forward," he said. "In the draft, we added talent and athleticism that deepens our young core.
"We then tapped the free agent market and filled some important needs by landing Josh Smith, one of the NBAs top forwards who will be a huge asset to the team. And, of course, we brought back Chauncey Billups, a veteran leader and true champion. That will make this team more competitive immediately, while at the same time nurturing our nucleus of young talent."