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Blazers locked in on Chauncey Billups as their next coach, hopeful about finalizing a deal, per report


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Chauncey Billups, currently an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers, has emerged as the frontrunner to become the next head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, who are hopeful about finalizing a deal, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick. Billups’ Clippers are still alive in the playoffs and currently trail the Phoenix Suns 2-1 in the Western Conference finals. He will be available once their season ends. 

Blazers star Damian Lillard publicly endorsed Jason Kidd for the job after Terry Stotts was fired, but Kidd removed his name from consideration and ultimately landed the Dallas Mavericks job. Lillard also approved of Billups as a candidate, though, telling Charania and Jason Quick “I like J. Kidd and Chauncey,” before Kidd had withdrawn. Billups 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 would 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. 

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