Chauncey Billups Hired as Blazers Head Coach on Reported 5-Year Contract

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2021

FILE - In this March 19, 2014 photo, Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups watches from the sideline during an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets in Denver. Two people familiar with the negotiations say the Cleveland Cavaliers have not yet offered Billups a role in their front office. Billups and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert met for two days this week to discuss a position, but the talks did not lead to a formal offer, the people said. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Portland Trail Blazers officially hired Chauncey Billups to be the team's new head coach on Sunday night, with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reporting Billups received a five-year contract, with the Blazers holding a team option for a fifth year.

Billups, who has no head coaching experience at any level, will replace Terry Stotts, who was fired after nine seasons as Portland's head coach.

The 44-year-old Billups is best known for his 17-year playing career with the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers.

Billups' greatest success came in Detroit, as the five-time All-Star led the Pistons to an NBA championship in 2004 and was named NBA Finals MVP.

The Denver native's first foray into coaching came this season when he was hired by the Clippers to serve as an assistant under head coach Tyronn Lue.

Wojnarowski reported Friday that the Blazers were in negotiations with Billups to make him their next head coach and were expected to sign him to a long-term contract.

When asked by Jason Quick and Shams Charania of The Athletic who he would like to see take over as head coach of the Blazers, superstar guard Damian Lillard named Billups and Jason Kidd.

Kidd quickly removed himself from consideration and took the Dallas Mavericks' head coaching job instead, leaving Billups as the clear favorite.

The decision to hire Billups didn't come without controversy, however, as his involvement in a sexual assault case in 1997 returned to the news.

Billups was never charged with a crime, but he settled a civil lawsuit with the alleged victim who said Billups and his then-Boston Celtics teammate, Ron Mercer, raped her at her then-boyfriend Antoine Walker's condo in November 1997, per Jack Winter of Sports Illustrated.

For his part, Billups has denied the allegations and said any sexual contact between him and the woman was consensual.

Despite the allegations, the Blazers hired Billups with the idea that he and Lillard will be able to get the team into the championship hunt.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported earlier on Sunday, however, that "the enormous backlash from the Trail Blazers' process to hire a new coach and his concerns on whether a championship contender can be built have become factors that may push the franchise player—Lillard—out the door, league sources told Yahoo Sports."

While Lillard has been one of the NBA's most dominant offensive players for the past several years, he has not enjoyed much playoff success with just one trip to the Western Conference Finals and no NBA Finals berths.

Billups was nicknamed "Mr. Big Shot" for his prowess in big moments as a player, and his presence and expertise may be what is needed to take Lillard to the next level. 

While playoff success has largely eluded the Blazers, Billups is taking over a team that has reached the postseason eight years in a row.

The talent is there for Portland to go on a deep playoff run and potentially win a championship, and a new voice on the sidelines like Billups may be the missing piece that puts the Blazers over the top. 

Assuming Lillard sticks around, that is.