The Portland Trail Blazers are hiring Los Angeles Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups as their next head coach, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Billups’ Clippers are still alive in the playoffs and currently trail the Phoenix Suns 2-1 in the Western Conference finals.
Blazers star Damian Lillard publicly endorsed both Billups and Jason Kidd for the job after Terry Stotts was fired, telling Charania and Jason Quick “I like J. Kidd and Chauncey.” Kidd removed his name from consideration, though, and ultimately landed the Dallas Mavericks job. Billups remained in the hunt and has now secured the position. He has never been an NBA head coach before, but he has been sought after for quite some time.
Billups has a unique perspective as a player who started his career as a journeyman but eventually grew into a star. He played for four franchises before ultimately landing in Detroit and winning Finals MVP in 2004. He has since worked as a broadcaster for ESPN while being courted for multiple jobs, including Cleveland’s president of basketball operations position. He interviewed with the Indiana Pacers last offseason for their head coaching job, but that position ultimately went to Nate Bjorkgren.
Billups will have his work cut out for him in a delicate Portland situation. The Blazers have lost in the first round in four of the past five postseasons, and general manager Neil Olshey has indicated that he doesn’t expect significant turnover on a roster that just finished 29th in defense. Lillard is 30, and even if he endorses the Billups hire, it should be noted that he has never reached the Finals and does not appear particularly close to doing so at the moment. He has never indicated that he wants to leave Portland, but NBA history suggests that enough years without true title contention tends to sway most superstars. Billups might be Portland’s best chance at avoiding that fate.
Courtesy: CBS Sports