Billups gets first chance as head coach with Trail Blazers

Jun 27, 2021, 9:23 AM | Updated: 9:53 pm

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers have hired Chauncey Billups as their new coach.

Billups, a five-time NBA All-Star over a 17-year playing career, has never been a head coach. He has served as an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers for the past season.

“Portland is a special place and a unique franchise,” Billups said in a statement Sunday night. “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.”

The Blazers have scheduled a Tuesday press conference to introduce Billups, 44. He becomes the 15th head coach of the franchise.

“Chauncey is a proven leader with an elite basketball IQ that has won everywhere he has been,” said Neil Olshey, Portland’s president of basketball operations. “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 were also interested in Brooklyn Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni, as well as San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon.

Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd withdrew his name from consideration after it was reported that Blazers guard Damian Lillard had endorsed him for the job.

Over the course of his career, Billups played for Boston, Toronto, Denver, Minnesota, Detroit, New York and the Clippers. Known as Mr. Big Shot, he was voted the 2004 NBA Finals MVP while with the championship-winning Pistons.

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue named Billups to his staff last November.

Word that the Blazers had settled on Billups was first reported on Friday. The decision was met with backlash in Portland because of allegations that he was involved in a sexual assault in 1997. No criminal charges were ever filed.

The Blazers fired Terry Stotts shortly after the team was eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in the opening round of the playoffs.

Stotts coached the Blazers for nine seasons, taking them to the playoffs in the last eight. But Portland failed to advance past the first round in four of the last five years.

The 63-year-old Stotts was the NBA’s fourth-longest tenured coach this past season, behind only San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra and Dallas’ Rick Carlisle. He went 402-318 in his nine regular seasons in Portland and led the Blazers to the Western Conference finals in 2019, where they were swept by Golden State.

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