Trail Blazers Expected To Finalize Deal With Billups Despite Criticism

The Trail Blazers are receiving public backlash about their choice to hire Chauncey Billups as their next head coach, but the criticism won’t affect their decision, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (video link from “NBA Countdown).

The outcry is related to a sexual assault case involving Billups and some of his teammates in 1997. No criminal charges were brought against Billups, and the case was ultimately settled in civil court.

Wojnarowski says that after talking to Billups on Wednesday, Blazers management conducted an investigation of the charges. Billups’ version of the events in subsequent interviews with general manager Neil Olshey and owner Jody Allen were consistent with what the investigation found and he was offered the job Friday night, Wojnarowski adds.

Portland continues to work out contract details with Billups and is expected to announce his hiring sometime in the next few days, according to Wojnarowski.

The choice of Billups has been unpopular in the Portland media, with John Canzano of The Oregonian calling it “the most pathetic hiring charade in state history.” He points out that the Trail Blazers had a chance to make history by hiring Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, who was a finalist for the job, or they could have brought back Ime Udoka, a former assistant with the team, who was hired by the Celtics instead.

Canzano says the decision on Billups is the work of Olshey, who settled on him early as the primary candidate. Canzano suggests that Olshey has too much power in the organization and is ignoring the team’s history of alienating fans by having too many players accused of serious crimes.

The negative response has even reached Blazers star Damian Lillard, who identified Billups as one of his preferred choices shortly after the team parted ways with Terry Stotts, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian.

After being accused by a fan of being responsible for Billups’ hiring, Lillard tweeted, “Really? I was asked what coaches I like of the names I ‘heard’ and I named them. Sorry I wasn’t aware of their history I didn’t read the news when I was 7/8yrs old. I don’t support Those things … but if this the route y’all wana come at me… say less.”

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