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Minnesota fans are well-versed in laments about players who left pro teams in the state, only to go on and do big things elsewhere.

The conversation typically starts with a heavy sigh and the uttering of the name "David Ortiz," who flashed some potential in parts of six seasons with the Twins before becoming a Hall of Famer with the Red Sox.

More recently, you can bet there are several Twins fans who know that Kyle Gibson is 6-0 with an ERA of 2.00 for Texas this season.

But with news that the Blazers have hired Chauncey Billups as their head coach, I'm reminded that Billups is one of the most underrated "ones who got away" in recent memory.

Billups signed with the Wolves in 2000, coming off an injury-plagued and ineffective season with Denver. He was a combo guard and ostensibly Terrell Brandon's backup, but by the 2001-02 season he had become the primary starter with Brandon injured.

Billups played all 82 games for the Wolves in 2001-02, with 54 starts, averaging 12.5 points and 5.5 assists overall (15.1 and 6.6 in starts) on 39.4% shooting from three-point range.

The Wolves were swept by Dallas in the Best-of-5 first round of the playoffs that season, but Billups averaged 22 points in the series and logged 43:58, 45:31 and 44:22 of time in the three games. Billups had an even plus-minus mark for the series. In the 10 minutes he was off the court, the Wolves were outscored by 32.

Basically, he was emerging a capable floor leader and scoring option with Kevin Garnett. But that offseason, the Wolves could offer Billups no more than the $4.7 million mid-level exception. Detroit swooped in with a six-year deal worth more than $33 million total.

Billups became the backbone of a Pistons team that won the 2004 NBA title, lost the 2005 finals in seven games and made other playoff runs.

The Wolves? They managed to sign Troy Hudson late in free agency, which proved to be a decent pickup. And their search for Billups' replacement led them a couple years later to acquire Sam Cassell — who might have faced Billups with the Wolves in those 2004 finals if he hadn't hurt his back.

But if Billups had been the guy during Garnett's prime? He would have made a great, healthy, two-way running mate.

Instead, of course, Garnett never won that title here and was traded to Boston. You might recall that, like Ortiz, he got his ring in Boston.