Blazers

Ramona Shelburne: NBA players respect Chauncey Billups

Blazers
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

It's widely assumed around the league the Trail Blazers will be hiring Chauncey Billups as the organization's head coach once the Los Angeles Clippers' season ends.

The Blazers have completed second-round interviews with Billups, Becky Hammon and Mike D'Antoni but the vacancy remains unfilled, with just Billips still coaching rather than enjoying his NBA offseason.

With the sentiment heading in Billups' direction, Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon welcomed ESPN's Ramona Shelburne to the Talkin' Blazers podcast where the well-plugged, Los Angeles-based reporter gave her insights into Billups as a candidate. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

"He has just a really good way about him," said Shelburne. "I think guys really respect just the way he approaches the game. When you talk about how does he command a huddle, how does he command a room."

In Shelburne's view, the big question is if the Blazers want an experienced coach such as D'Antoni or Billups, "who has never been a head coach but has a Hall-of-Fame record as a player."

While Billups hasn't been a head coach, he's widely respected around the league getting interviews to be the head of basketball operations at franchises such as Minnesota and Cleveland, along with being a general manager for Atlanta. The Cavs even offered Billups the gig in 2017 but Chauncey turned it down.

“Absolutely, my desire is to be in the front office at some point,” Billups said via Marc Spears. “I want the opportunity to build something special and to enjoy building it. That is something that would be very exciting to do, to build something desirable and sustainable.”

 

However, coming to Portland as a head coach would be different than that goal. Blazers head of basketball operations Neil Olshey has reportedly been eyeing Billups ever since the franchise parted ways with Terry Stotts and hiring Billups likely means Olshey got his way. Rumors have surfaced of Blazers owner Jody Allen having "a strong interest" in Hammon as the team's coach, becoming the first female head coach in any of North America's four major men's team sports. 

What does Billups bring to the table as a coach? Elite point guard production and a Hall-of-Fame playing career.

"Chaunce has been the point guard whisperer for the Clippers this year," added Shelburne.

She said Billups talks to Reggie Jackson daily en route to a career renaissance this postseason, with the former buyout candidate averaging 17.6 points on 50.5% shooting and 42% three-point accuracy during the Clippers playoff run. 

During the 2020 Clippers playoff run, with Billups not with the team, Jackson averaged 4.9 points per game. 

"If you see [the Clippers] during games, that's who they're talking to. They're going over to Chaunce and he's going through a lot of what they're trying to do on the court," said Shelburne.

Franchise point guard Damian Lillard has also gone on the record with Jason Quick of The Athletic stating he would like to see Chauncey Billups as the team's head coach. 

“I like J. Kidd and Chauncey,” Lillard told The Athletic

However, considering Neil Olshey said after the 2020-21 season the Blazers will be doing "biographical and impact studies" on all of their candidates, the franchise will need to address one dark part of his past.

When Billups was a rookie with the Boston Celtics in 1997, a woman accused Billups and Ron Mercer of rape at the home of Antoine Walker. Billups and Mercer settled the lawsuit with the unidentified woman, paying her an undisclosed amount out of court. 

 

Still, it appears to be his job to lose.