Report: Kenny Smith, Chauncey Billups Linked to Hawks' Head Coaching Vacancy

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2016, file photo, former Detroit Pistons player Chauncey Billups addresses the media in Auburn Hills, Mich. Billups has withdrawn his name from the Cleveland Cavaliers' search for a new general manager. He released a statement to ESPN on Monday, July 4, 2017, saying that
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

The Atlanta Hawks may be looking at Kenny Smith and Chauncey Billups in their search for a new head coach after firing Lloyd Pierce, according to The Athletic's Chris Kirschner.

"I wrote an initial coaching candidates story after Pierce was fired, and since then I've heard two additional names to keep an eye on: Kenny Smith of Inside the NBA and Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups," Kirschner wrote. "That's not me reporting they're top candidates or anything like that, but they've come up in different conversations."

Smith spent 10 years in the league as a player but is likely more widely recognized for his aforementioned on-screen work. As part of his role on Inside the NBA, the 56-year-old is relied upon to provide in-depth breakdowns of games.

Smith interviewed with the New York Knicks in April 2018 as they were looking for a new head coach, but they ultimately hired David Fizdale. That May, he told TMZ Sports he was hopeful of becoming an NBA coach within five years.

Billups is a five-time All-Star and played a key role on the Detroit Pistons' squad that won an NBA championship in 2004.

The Cleveland Cavaliers interviewed him in June 2017 for the role of general manager, and he removed himself from the race shortly thereafter.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported in September that Billups was a candidate for the Indiana Pacers after they fired Nate McMillan. The 44-year-old eventually accepted a role on Tyronn Lue's staff after Lue accepted the head coach position for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Kirschner noted Smith and Billups both have existing relationships with Hawks star Trae Young. He described Smith as "well-connected" with the point guard, while Billups has a decades-long friendship with Young's father, Rayford.

Heading into the second half of the season, the Hawks sit 11th in the Eastern Conference at 16-20. McMillan succeeded Pierce on an interim basis, and Atlanta won its first two games with him in charge.


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