Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups and interim GM Joe Cronin have an interesting shared history, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. Billups and Cronin were high school opponents in 1994, when they competed for the Colorado Class 6A state championship.
Billups was the star of George Washington High and led his team to a 71-67 victory over Cronin’s Horizon High. Billups had 31 points and nine assists in the title game, while Cronin had 22 points and 15 rebounds in defeat.
After Cronin joined the Blazers as an intern in 2006, he was quickly promoted to scouting assistant, and later assistant director of scouting and salary cap analyst. While Billups was playing in the NBA, he noticed Cronin’s name in Portland’s front office department and was dying to know if it was the same person he’d competed against many years before, per Quick.
“I was 10 years into my NBA career, and I was looking at the front offices around the league, and I see Joe Cronin’s name,” Billups remembered. “And I wondered to myself: Is that the Joe Cronin? So I started asking questions. And I wanted to see a picture. I wanted to see if this was actually Joe.”
However, Cronin was always on the road scouting, so Billups never got confirmation that it was the same person he knew from high school until he interviewed for the head coaching job over the summer.
“When this opportunity came up, and I was talking to Neil [Olshey], I was like: ‘Where is Joe? I need to see Joe. I need to make sure this is the same dude,'” Billups said.
Billups finally saw Cronin on a Zoom interview and recognized him immediately, 27 years later, Quick relays.
Here’s more from Portland:
- Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated takes a close look at the relationship between Billups and star point guard Damian Lillard. “We’re forming a bond more so than anything else, it’s just like we always sit and talk over everything. And that’s something that’s fun to have,” Billups said.
- Lillard gave a speech to the Blazers last Monday imploring them not give up on the season, Quick writes for The Athletic. “This is the moment a lot of teams choose to just pack it in and say, you know, it’s tough, we are this many games under .500 and we haven’t been playing great … and they just fold and become one of those bottom teams,” Lillard said he told the team. “And I just said that’s not who we are … it’s not the situation we want to be in, but we dig. We dig out and find a way, and we are going to do that once again.”
- In a separate article, Quick explores what has gone wrong for the Blazers this season and how they can try to climb out of the hole. They currently have a 12-18 record, 11th in the West.
- Backup center Cody Zeller has suffered a small right patellar fracture (broken kneecap), the team announced on Dec. 11. In the release, the Blazers said he’ll be reevaluated in one week, but an update on his recovery timeline has yet to be posted. Zeller is having a solid season for Portland, averaging 5.1 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 24 games (13.3 MPG).
3 thoughts on “Blazers Notes: Billups, Cronin, Lillard, Struggles, Zeller”
Portland has definitely been one of the biggest disappointments in the league so far. I always thought Terry Stotts got a raw deal there, and I think them having a down year without him just further cements that theory.
I don’t think Stotts will be long without a head coaching gig. I think he’ll probably enjoy this season off, and I know he came to the Bulls camp early on to watch and take in some things from Billy Donovan. I think he’s just learning from his past experiences, and looking to build off his experience in Portland..
If I’m a team that let’s go of their coach next offseason, Stotts has to be one of the first candidates I’d look to if I were a president/GM.
I’ll add Dallas, Boston, Atlanta, and LAL to that list as well.
So far this has not been the season to put money on teams’ over-unders
Time for a rebuild.
They currently have the record for most consecutive playoff appearances but that’ll end this year.
Along with that they have a new coach and a new GM and it’s been known for a while the roster needs major changes too.
Sell dame now while his value is still absolutely sky high.
Sell RoCo and Nurkic now while they are under contract so you can atleast get something in return.
At the same time target young dudes with low value, target guys who didn’t get the rookie extension, target players available for trade.
Ben Simmons, Colin Sexton, James Wiseman, Domantis Sabonis, Miles Bridges, DeAaron Fox, Brandon Ingram, Cam Reddish, Bol Bol, Etc etc