The Portland Trail Blazers will reportedly interview Brooklyn Nets assistant coach Mike D’Antoni on Monday for their vacant head coaching position, as Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday.
As the Blazers' search for Terry Stotts’ successor continues, the team will also interview Clippers assistant coach Chauncey Billups and Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon this week.
From the names in ESPN’s report, they all are different in their own ways. D’Antoni is viewed as offensive-minded coach, although Blazers general manager Neil Olshey emphasized the team’s need to improve their defense.
Chauncey Billups has only been an assistant for a season but has long been viewed as a future head coach since his playing days over his 17-year career.
Becky Hammon would become the first woman across the four major U.S. sports to be named a head coach.
The Blazers rightfully have a laundry list of options. Olshey noted the team had an expansive list of candidates spanning 20-25 names.
With Damian Lillard turning 31 in July and CJ McCollum turning 30 in September, the team’s new coach will be inheriting a duo pressed to win and a team that needs improvements to take the next step in the league’s elite.
Of all the coaches named, D’Antoni is the most experienced. Having spent time with the Suns, Knicks, Lakers, and Rockets, he’s been to the Western Conference Finals and has coached MVPs. One of his biggest accomplishments is playing a role in reviving the Suns, Knicks, and Rockets and pushing Steve Nash and James Harden to another level.
If D’Antoni was in Portland, is there another level Lillard and McCollum could get to? That would remain to be seen.
As a team, the next level the team needs to unlock is bettering their standing on the defensive side. Something D’Antoni teams aren’t historically known for.