- The Portland Trail Blazers have reached terms with Chauncey Billups to be the team’s new head coach.
- Billups will replace former head coach Terry Stotts who was fired on June 4 after a first round playoff exit.
- The Blazers hope that Billups will be able to improve the team’s porous defense.
The Portland Trail Blazers have inked a five year deal with LA Clippers’ assistant Chauncey Billups to become their new head coach. The deal includes a team option on the fifth season and was put together over the weekend after Portland offered the job to Billups on Friday night. Billups will be formally announced as the Blazers’ new head coach at a press conference in Portland on Tuesday.
Billups will replace former head coach Terry Stotts, who was fired in early June after the team’s fourth first round playoff exit in the past five seasons. The team and Stotts called it a ‘mutual agreement to part ways’ but that was mere semantics–Stotts was reportedly on the hot seat since late in the regular season. Word was that it would take a deep playoff run to save his job and when that didn’t happen the ‘die was cast’. Stotts coached Portland for nine seasons and is the team’s second winningest head coach behind Rick Adelman.
Immediately after Stott was fired, Portland’s superstar guard Damien Lillard publicly indicated that he’d like to see Billups or Jason Kidd take over as head coach. Kidd quickly took his name out of the running, giving the excuse that he was ‘uncomfortable with the process’ of becoming a candidate due to Lillard’s public statement. In reality, opposition was already brewing in politically correct Portland over Kidd’s previous arrest for domestic violence. In addition, he likely was angling for the Dallas Mavericks’ job–which he is reportedly on the verge of getting–all along.
Following Kidd’s withdrawal from consideration it became Billups’ job to lose. When we reported on the futures odds for ‘Next Portland Trail Blazers head coach’ Billups was a clear favorite:
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS NEXT HEAD COACH
Chauncey Billups +200 Sam Cassell +450 Dave Joerger +600 Mike D'Antoni +600 Juwan Howard +700 Kenny Atkinson +750 David Vanterpool +900 Becky Hammon +1200 Jeff Van Gundy +1200 Johnnie Bryant +1400
It’s unclear if any of the other candidates received serious consideration although Mike D’Antoni and Becky Hammon both ‘took a meeting’ in Seattle with Blazers’ chairman Jody Allen and president of basketball operations Neil Olshey. It’s likely that both D’Antoni and Hammon were ‘Plan B’ options should the Billups hire proved to be untenable.
There was some speculation that an alleged sexual assault incident from 1997 would become an issue for Billups. No criminal charges were filed although there was a settlement in a civil case. ESPN reported that much of the search process involved the Blazers performing ‘due diligence’ on these allegations:
Although Billups had been vetted several times for high-level NBA leadership jobs, including an offer to become president of basketball operations for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 and in his current role with the Clippers, the Blazers used much of the search process to revisit the allegations from Billups’ rookie season in the NBA, sources said.
Billups encouraged the examination, sources said, and his answers in several conversations with Blazers officials aligned with findings from an independent investigation, sources said. The Blazers ultimately found nothing that they believed disqualified Billups from becoming the franchise’s new head coach.
Portland will reportedly give Billups every opportunity to succeed and surround the rookie coach with a best of class assistant coaching staff.