Detroit Pistons great Chauncey Billups set to become Portland Trail Blazers new head coach

Detroit Free Press

Chauncey Billups finally has his dream job.

Dame Time, meet Mr. Big Shot.

Billups, the NBA Finals MVP on the 2004 Detroit Pistons’ championship team, has agreed to become the Portland Trail Blazers’ next head coach, according to multiple reports Sunday. In Portland, he’ll coach one of basketball’s most clutch scorers and shotmakers in point guard Damian Lillard.

“Billups has a long-standing relationship” with Lillard, and the “two have talked frequently throughout Portland’s search process,” ESPN reported Friday night.

The deal was done on Sunday, with Billups receiving a five year deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

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Billups, 44, is an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers under head coach Tyronn Lue; the Clippers are down 3-1 in the Western Conference finals against Phoenix after falling, 84-80, in Game 4 on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Game 5 is Monday night in Phoenix (9 p.m., ESPN).

Billups quickly transformed from journeyman lottery pick to All-Star point guard when he signed in Detroit as a free agent in 2002. He immediately became the leader on the floor and guided the Pistons to six straight East finals, highlighted by the 2004 title over the heavily favored Lakers and a Game 7 loss to San Antonio in the Finals the following year.

He was traded to Denver in a deal for Allen Iverson one week into the 2008-09 season, and the Pistons haven’t won a playoff game since, owning an NBA record 14-game postseason losing streak.

The five-time All-Star returned to Detroit for 19 games in 2013-14, his final NBA season, and had his No. 1 jersey retired by the Pistons in 2016.

Billups, who had his own reputation for hitting big shots during his 17-year career in the league, will look to help the Blazers make a leap into the elite tier of the NBA behind Lillard. The six-time All-Star averaged 34.3 points and 10.2 assists on 44.9% shooting from 3-point range in a 4-2 series defeat to the injury riddled Denver Nuggets this season, after a 42-30 regular season to earn the West’s No. 6 seed.

Portland has made the postseason in eight consecutive seasons, the longest active streak in the NBA, but has been knocked out in the first round five times, and advanced to the conference finals once — in 2019 — where they were swept by Golden State. The Blazers have suffered first-round losses in four of the past five seasons.

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The Blazers have long struggled on defense despite a strong secondary scoring attack with CJ McCollum and the inside presence of oft-injured Jusuf Nurkic. This season, Portland ranked No. 2 in offensive rating at 119.1 and No. 29 in defense at 116.7, according to Cleaning The Glass.

Their big midseason acquisition, Norman Powell, will likely opt out to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Lillard, who turns 31 in July, is seemingly antsy, putting the pressure on general manager Neil Olshey and Billups to make a big move and/or improve the team from within.

The team recently parted with former coach Terry Stotts, who compiled a 402-318 record in the regular season over nine years in Portland — the second-winningest coach in franchise history — but went 22-40 in the playoffs.

Billups got the job over Brooklyn Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni and San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon.

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