Chauncey Billups is a leading candidate for the Blazers coach opening (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)
- With Lakers assistant Jason Kidd withdrawing from consideration, Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups has emerged as the favorite to be the next Blazers head coach
- A pair of Doc Rivers’ lieutenants, Sam Cassell and Dave Joeger, are also top candidates
- Read below for odds and analysis on who is likely to become the Trail Blazers next head coach
The Portland Trail Blazers parted ways with Terry Stotts last Friday, initiating a second high-profile job opening in the NBA following Boston’s front office shuffle two days before.
After Blazers star Damian Lillard told Yahoo Sports that “Jason Kidd is the guy I want,” the Lakers assistant withdrew his name from consideration because he did not want to put the organization or the six-time All-Star in an awkward position.
Now, Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups has emerged as the favorite (+300) to be Stotts’ successor. Is Mr. Big Shot a shoo-in as the next head coach in the Rose City? Who among the next group is likely to be considered?
Odds to Be Next Portland Trail Blazers Head Coach
Odds as of June 7th
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Billups checks off a number of boxes for a franchise that’s been a perennial contender – but has failed to get over the hump in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
Retreads Galore Litter the Board
Three of the last four names on the list are all very familiar to basketball fans. McMillan, of course, led the Blazers for seven seasons between 2005-12. Meantime, Brown and Clifford are both former head coaches in the league. But none of them are under the age of 51 (Brown).
if I’m Portland and I need a defense-based coach for #RipCity , I call Becky Hammon or Mike Brown (resurrected his love for the game with the Warriors) first. Becky would be accepted in Portland from the beginning.
— Relax Dude (@Alex_Drude) June 5, 2021
The one-time Cavs and Lakers head coach has been a big asset for Steve Kerr in the Bay Area, helping Golden State win a pair of their three recent titles in 2017 and 2018. But the NBA has always been a star-driven league.
Brown ultimately failed to win a championship with two of the biggest names in the game over the last 20 years in LeBron and Kobe. While Lillard isn’t in James’ or Bryant’s stratosphere, this isn’t a good fit. Plus, Brown doesn’t have a past with Portland General Manager Neil Olshey.
Coach Big Shot?
Olshey and Billups aren’t necessarily close either – Olshey was the Clippers GM when the franchise signed the veteran point guard ten years ago prior to Olshey heading to the Pacific Northwest in 2012. But the future Hall of Famer’s pedigree is immaculate.
He’s won an NBA title (2004 with the Pistons), played at an elite level (Billups was a five-time All-Star and an NBA Finals MVP) and, perhaps most importantly for the Portland gig, knows how to handle diverse personalities. Remember, this is a guy who helped former Blazer Rasheed Wallace harness his emotions to win a Larry O’Brien Trophy in Detroit.
Damian Lillard is said to also want Chauncey Billups as Blazers head coach, besides Jason Kidd 👀 pic.twitter.com/MqaQczRIoV
— Blazers Nation (@BlazersNationCP) June 5, 2021
But is Billups ready to be a head coach? This is his first season on Tyronn Lue’s staff. Plus, with the Clippers getting past the Mavericks in the first round with Utah up next, will Portland want to wait until L.A.’s season is over before making a move?
Billups is a legit favorite – but there’s another title-winning point guard as a player with more experience as a coach and a relationship with Olshey.
Sam I Am
There’s a strong sentiment that Lillard is pulling strings on who gets the job. Olshey rejected that school of thought Monday.
Damian Lillard will have a say for the Blazers’ next coach, but Neil Olshey will be making the final decision.
Who fits the mold to call the shots for Rip City? pic.twitter.com/GkLcgiGwCs
— Blazers Nation (@BlazersNationCP) June 7, 2021
While not Billups, Howard, D’Antoni or Jeff Van Gundy – the four names mentioned by ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski as the Blazers’ top candidates – Sam Cassell might just be the man for this job.
A three-time NBA champ as a player (he was the point guard for Houston when they went back-to-back in 1994-95 and a role player on Boston in 2008), Cassell has been one of Rivers’ top assistants since 2014. Olshey brought him to L.A. as a veteran player in 2005 and there’s a sense it’s only a matter of time before Cassell is a head coach. Why not now?
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.