Trail Blazers coaching rumors: Portland hiring Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups as next head coach
Three weeks after parting ways with Terry Stotts, the Trail Blazers have reportedly found their next head coach.
Portland will hire Clippers assistant coach Chauncey Billups, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, who reported that Billups was offered the job on Friday night. The 44-year-old will jump up to the top seat on the Trail Blazers’ bench after serving under Tyronn Lue in his first season on an NBA coaching staff.
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Billups emerged as one of Portland’s top candidates early in its search, and he earned an endorsement from Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard. After the Trail Blazers announced Stotts would be leaving the organization, Lillard told The Athletic’s Jason Quick and Charania that he liked both Billups and Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd, who quickly took his name out of the running.
“Portland’s a first-class organization and will have great candidates for its head coaching job, but I’ve decided not to be one of them,” Kidd told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski earlier this month. “Whoever they choose will have big shoes to fill from Terry.”
Kidd has reportedly reached an agreement with the Mavericks to be the team’s head coach, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
An NBA Finals MVP and five-time All-Star during his playing career, Billups will be tasked with guiding the Trail Blazers to a deep playoff run. Portland reached the playoffs in eight of Stotts’ nine seasons, but it failed to make it out of the first round in four of its past five postseason trips. The writing was on the wall for Stotts after the Trail Blazers failed to defeat a Nuggets team that entered the 2021 NBA playoffs without starters Jamal Murray and Will Barton and backup guard PJ Dozier.
While Lillard has been loyal to Portland throughout his career, there is a “a palpable sense of urgency” coming from his camp, per Quick, because he wants to win now. The 2021-22 season will be the first Lillard plays under his five-year supermax extension, but Billups can’t be feeling a sense of security as he walks into the job.
He has dealt with pressure before as an NBA player, but being a first-time head coach brings much different challenges. Lillard and the Trail Blazers will soon find out if Billups is up to the task.