The Clippers are singularly focused on their own playoff run, but the coaching carousel moves along, and that means their staff could potentially be poached for other opportunities.
Right now, the belle of the ball is Chauncey Billups, a first-year Clippers assistant who was a broadcaster for years before taking his seat on the bench. Billups will reportedly be interviewing for the Portland Trail Blazers head coaching job this week, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, along with Mike D’Antoni and Becky Hammon, who are currently assistants with the Nets and the Spurs, respectively.
Billups may be a neophyte as a coach, but he is well-respected among current players. As the point guard and de facto leader of the last champion not to have a superstar (the 2004 Detroit Pistons) and a player who made seven consecutive conference finals, Billups has cache as someone who simply knows how to win. Ty Lue has said that Billups is “definitely ready” for the role of head coach.
There is some reporting that Billups is actually the frontrunner to earn the job in Portland. Billups is a favorite of Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey, dating back to when Billups played for the Clippers and Olshey was the general manager in Los Angeles.
About the Blazers’ coaching search: They’ll interview other people, but if it’s Neil Olshey’s hire, there’s only ever been one candidate and that’s Chauncey Billups. But ultimately, ownership has to sign off and who knows what they may have in mind.— Sean Highkin (@highkin) June 14, 2021
Portland superstar Damian Lillard also said that he preferred the new coach to be one of Jason Kidd or Billups. Kidd, currently an assistant with the Lakers, withdrew from consideration for the job, leaving Billups as the natural fit.
There are a few other openings in the league, including one in Boston, where Billups began his career and is reportedly also in consideration to be head coach. But as a former point guard, the opportunity to coach Lillard would presumably be too good to pass up, even if it would put Billups in the crosshairs of his good buddy Lue from time to time.
More news for Tuesday:
- The NBA competition committee continues to discuss “unnatural motions surrounding jump shots” that draw fouls. Hopefully, something comes of it.
- Melissa Rohlin argues that the Clippers’ title hopes rest on Paul George.
- Ramona Shelburne goes deep on PG becoming a PG.
- Rajon Rondo has a hidden talent that has come in handy for the Clippers: baking.
- The Sixers lost Monday, but Kawhi Leonard nonetheless provided some joy for Joel Embiid with his monster dunk over Derrick Favors.
- Ricky O’Donnell writes that Leonard saves his best jams for the playoffs.
- ICYMI: Leonard added his seventh all-defense honor to his trophy case.