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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 20: Commentator Chauncey Billups looks on during the 2019 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center on June 20, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo : Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
The hunt for the next Portland head coach is over, with Chauncey Billups getting the much-coveted gig Sunday night. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Billups and the Blazers agreed on a five-year deal, with Portland holding a team option for a fifth year.
Portland’s president of basketball operations, Neil Olshey, made the announcement after finalizing contract terms with Billups’ agent Andy Miller of Klutch Sports. Billups replaces former Blazers coach Terry Stotts who was fired after an eight-year stint with the club.
Billups tasked to improve on Stotts’ previous achievements
Stotts made the Blazers a perennial playoff contender during his stay at Portland but wasn’t able to lead them deep into the playoffs. The Blazers had three first-round exits in the past four years, including a painful six-game series loss to the Denver Nuggets just last month.
Olshey believes Billups can take the Blazers to new heights, saying, “Chauncey is a proven leader with an elite basketball IQ that has won everywhere he has been. 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 Blazers are taking a gamble on Billups, who has no previous head coaching experience at any level. The 44-year-old did serve as an assistant coach this season for the Los Angeles Clippers, who are currently locked in a tight series with the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals.
Billups made a name for himself as one of the best point guards of his generation during his 17-year playing career in the NBA. He saw action for plenty of teams, namely: the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Clippers. Billups’ greatest achievement came as a member of the Pistons back in 2004 when they stunned the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
The decision to hire Billups was not straightforward, though, as his involvement in a 1997 sexual assault case was brought up once again. Though he was never charged with a crime, Billups did settle a civil lawsuit with the alleged victim who accused Billups and his then-Boston Celtics teammate Ron Mercer of rape.
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Can Billups lead Lillard to the promised land?
Despite the damaging allegations that Billups has long denied, Olshey and chairman Jody Allen decided that Billups was the man best suited to be Portland’s 15th head coach. It certainly helped Billups’ candidacy that the Blazers star player Damian Lillard wanted him or Jason Kidd to be Portland’s next head coach.
Kidd removed himself quickly from consideration as he opted to join the Dallas Mavericks organization instead. That opened the door for Billups to become the Blazers’ chief tactician, beating out San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and Brooklyn Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni for the head coaching job.
The Clippers, who reached the conference final for the first time in franchise history this postseason, credited Billups for his success in working with Paul George to improve on the latter’s playmaking skills this season. George has been spectacular for the Clips in this year’s playoffs, and the Blazers hope Billups can do the same with this Portland side and help them get over the hump soon.
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