At the introductory press conference for new Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups on Tuesday, president of basketball operations Neil Olshey confirmed that the team conducted an independent investigation into the 1997 sexual assault allegations against Billups, and came away confident that he hadn’t engaged in any wrongdoing, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian.
Billups, meanwhile, said the ’97 incident had a major impact on him and shaped his decision-making going forward, per Jason Quick of The Athletic.
However, a Blazers PR person shut down further questions to Billups on how exactly the incident shaped him, and Olshey declined to provide any details on the team’s investigation, calling that information “proprietary” and asking reporters and fans to “take us at our word” that the investigation was thorough. As a result, there was no real sense of transparency in the presser, according to John Canzano of The Oregonian.
As Quick notes, Olshey and the franchise are essentially asking for trust and forgiveness for the way the coaching search played out and the decision the team made. While Quick believes Olshey has earned that trust to some extent, he adds that the veteran executive hasn’t made “a bigger ask” during his tenure with the team than this one, and that the clumsy hiring process has “created unrest for Billups, for (Damian) Lillard, and the fanbase.”
Here’s more out of Portland:
- During Billups’ introductory presser, Olshey downplayed the idea that Lillard’s frustration with how the 2020/21 season played out will lead to a trade request this offseason. “Dame and I talk all the time,” Olshey said, per Quick. “And Dame’s happiness revolves around winning, and having a chance to win at the highest level. Chauncey is going to inherit that now, but the ultimate responsibility for that falls on me and my staff to put a team together that we can walk into the beginning of the season and think it has a chance to compete for a championship. So the shorter answer is it’s on me to make Dame happy. And the way to make Dame happy is to put the pieces around him to where he feels like he can win a championship.”
- Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic said in an interview with a Bosnian outlet that he’d want to leave the team if Lillard is traded. Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian, using a translation tool, has the details on Nurkic’s comments. The big man previously cast some uncertainty on his future in Portland following the team’s postseason elimination.
- Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype takes a look at which teams might be able to put together the strongest trade offers for Lillard should the All-NBA point guard decide he wants out of Portland.
- Following a Tuesday report indicating Zach Collins has suffered another injury setback, the Blazers announced in a press release that the big man has undergone a second revision surgery to repair a left medial malleolus stress fracture and has been ruled out indefinitely. As we noted yesterday, Collins is eligible for restricted free agency, but seems increasingly unlikely to get a qualifying offer.