Trail Blazers hire Chauncey Billups as new head coach
The Portland Trail Blazers hired Los Angeles Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups as their new coach, the team announced on Sunday night.
Billups will receive a four-year deal with a team option on a fifth season, according to multiple reports.
“Chauncey is a proven leader with an elite basketball IQ that has won everywhere he has been,” Portland president of basketball operations Neil Olshey said in a news release. “He is prepared for the challenge of developing the championship habits and strategic approach we need to achieve the expectations and goals for our franchise.”
The 44-year-old Billups has never been a head coach. He was a first-year assistant for the Clippers, who trail the Phoenix Suns 3-1 in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.
“I’m very excited and humbled to be the next coach of the Trail Blazers,” Billups said of his hiring. “Portland is a special place and a unique franchise. As a player, I always loved playing here because the passion and knowledge of the fans brought out the very best in me as a competitor. Now I’m looking forward to being on the other side of that energy and engaging with the Portland community on a whole other level.”
Portland reportedly decided on Billups after a second interview in Seattle on Wednesday with team chairman Jody Allen and Olshey.
“Chauncey is a proven and consistent winner with NBA championship experience as an All-NBA player,” Allen said in the news release. “He has demonstrated throughout his career, first as a player, and currently as an assistant coach, a unique ability to lead. We are very happy to welcome him to Portland.”
The Trail Blazers also conducted two interviews with San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and Brooklyn Nets assistant and longtime NBA head coach Mike D’Antoni.
Billups played 17 NBA seasons and was NBA Finals MVP in 2004 when he led the Detroit Pistons to the NBA title. The five-time All-Star was known as “Mr. Big Shot” due to his ability to come through in clutch situations.
Billups, though, does have an incident in his background that reportedly prompted the Trail Blazers to investigate.
Billups was involved in an alleged sexual assault in 1997 at the house of a then-teammate on the Boston Celtics. No criminal charges were brought, but the woman reportedly received a civil settlement.
Star guard Damian Lillard had previously expressed support for the hiring of Billups, and he received social media criticism.
“Really? I was asked what coaches I like of the names I “heard” and I named them. Sorry I wasn’t aware of their history I didn’t read the news when I was 7/8yrs old. I don’t support Those things … but if this the route y’all wana come at me… say less,” Lillard responded on Twitter.
Really? I was asked what coaches I like of the names I “heard” and I named them. Sorry I wasn’t aware of their history I didn’t read the news when I was 7/8yrs old. I don’t support Those things … but if this the route y’all wana come at me… say less https://t.co/N1GPkX3Ohd
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) June 26, 2021
Billups will replace Terry Stotts, who went 402-318 with eight playoff appearances in nine seasons with the Trail Blazers.