Chauncey Billups

Northwest Notes: Beverley, Billups, Brase, Thunder

Patrick Beverley hasn’t missed the playoffs since his NBA career began in 2012, and he’s determined to keep his postseason streak alive in his first season with the Timberwolves, writes Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Beverley was traded from the Clippers to the Grizzlies and then from Memphis to Minnesota this summer, winding up with an organization that only been to the playoffs one time since 2004.

“My biggest focus is seeing how locked in we can be each and every night consistently, over a preseason, a season and eventually if we’re doing the right things getting to the playoffs,” Beverley said today during his introductory press conference. “Basketball is basketball. That won’t change. But everything else in the middle, I think you can control that to put yourself in a position to win a lot of games.”

Team president Gersson Rosas sees Beverley as a player who “can change the whole defense,” which will be a priority for a Wolves team that was 28th in defensive rating last season. Beverley will also be a veteran leader on a team filled with young players.

“Understand what’s going on. Understand positioning. Understand spacing. Understand timing and once you understand those things, you’re a student of the game and then you’re able to become a teacher,” Beverley said. “When … you’re able to teach the defense or teach that position, you put yourself in the position to be successful defensively.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Tutoring sessions with Tyronn Lue during last year’s COVID-19 hiatus convinced Chauncey Billups to try coaching, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. Billups, who was an announcer for the Clippers at the time, learned the game from a different perspective during that makeshift coaching camp, which routinely lasted four to five hours a day. Billups spent a season as an assistant with L.A. before being hired as head coach of the Trail Blazers this summer.
  • Matt Brase is the newest addition to Billups’ staff with the Trail Blazers, per Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype. Brase was an assistant to Mike D’Antoni in Houston from 2018-20.
  • The Thunder and their G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, will share the Paycom Center as their home arena this season, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. They are scheduled to play home games on the same day 15 times.

And-Ones: Lingering Questions, Ref Vaccinations, Noel, Jenkins, Mathias

The NBA’s summer of player movement may be winding down, but there are still some questions looming over teams. An ESPN panel of insiders looked at some of them on Thursday (before the Lauri MarkkanenLarry NanceDerrick Jones Jr. three team deal broke).

Among the predictions that were made: Nick Friedell believes Damian Lillard will eventually end up with the Knicks, just not in the immediate future; Kirk Goldsberry thinks that J.J. Redick will end up with the Nets; Andrew Lopez predicts Paul Millsap will start the season not on a roster, but will be picked up mid-season.

The crew also looks at which new coaches have the hardest road ahead: Chauncey Billups with the Blazers and Willie Green with the Pelicans each received two votes, while Jason Kidd with the Mavericks received one.

And, of course, the much-discussed Ben SimmonsSixers impasse was the first topic of debate.

We have more news from around the world of hoops:

  • The NBA will require its referees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, barring medical or religious exemptions, the league announced today. A report from ESPN laid out the scope of the policy, including that referees will receive booster shots once those become recommended, and that refs without an approved exemption who aren’t vaccinated will not be eligible to work games.
  • Knicks center Nerlens Noel‘s lawsuit has the potential to change the NBA-agent landscape, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Fischer writes that as opposed to the league’s tampering rules between teams and players, there are no such prohibitions on agents trying to poach clients, and that this unprecedented peek behind the curtain could give the league incentive to put some protections in place.
  • John Jenkins has signed with BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque in France, reports Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw (via Twitter). Jenkins played eight seasons in the NBA, averaging 5.0 PPG while shooting 36.7% from three on 319 career attempts. Jenkins recently participated with the Team USA select team as Team USA prepared for their eventual gold medal run.
  • Dakota Mathias has signed with the G League Ignite, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The 26-year-old played eight games for the Sixers as one of their two-way contracts last season, and Scotto reports that several teams have interest in him as a two-way player again this year. Mathias averaged six PPG and 1.6 APG in 15.4 minutes a night for Philadelphia.

Blazers Notes: Powell, Lillard, McCollum, Nurkic

Examining the Trail Blazers‘ plans going forward, Dan Devine of The Ringer suggests there are a few reasons for optimism in Portland. The team’s late-season addition of Norman Powell made an already strong offense even more potent, and the Blazers re-signed Powell to a long-term deal this summer. New head coach Chauncey Billups could also make an immediate impact and push the club harder on the defensive end, where improvement is necessary.

Still, Devine acknowledges that the Blazers didn’t exactly swing for the fences with their offseason moves, noting that there are a a lot of caveats and “maybes” in play when discussing their potential upside.

Here’s more out of Portland:

  • Asked during an Instagram Live appearance whether he intends to leave Portland, Lillard replied, I’m not leaving PDX. Not right now at least” (video link via Landon Buford). Those who believe Lillard wants to stay will likely focus on his assertion that he’s not going anywhere, while those who think he wants out will probably zero in on the “not right now” portion of his response. I wouldn’t read too much into it either way — it sounds like Lillard was supplying a fairly generic answer while leaving all his options open for the future.
  • Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report spoke to new NBPA president CJ McCollum about whether he believes the Blazers are capable of winning a title, teams’ free agency spending, and a handful of other topics. “I think whenever we step on the court, we have a chance to win a championship. If you don’t have that mindset and that mentality, then you shouldn’t play,” McCollum said of the Blazers. “… I feel like every year we have a chance to win a championship. But in the NBA, there’s so many things that go into that. You need a little bit of luck.”
  • In the latest HoopsHype podcast, Michael Scotto and Yossi Gozzlan discussed the Blazers’ offseason, with Scotto noting that president of basketball operations Neil Olshey is going “all-in” on Billups and will either “sink or swim” with that head coaching hire. Scotto also suggested that McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic need to step up and play some of their best basketball in 2021/22 to give Portland a chance to contend.

Northwest Notes: Billups, Hyland, Rosas, Jazz

New Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups wants to bring a commitment to defense to Portland, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. As an assistant with the Clippers last season, Billups was aware of the Blazers’ poor defensive reputation, and L.A. averaged 124.7 PPG against them in three games. A former defensive standout as a player, Billups envisions a team more in his image.

“To go to the next level, and be more competitive, and be more consistent, we got to be so much better defensively,” he said. “I know that. It’s not going to be optional to play hard defensively.”

Portland will continue to use a three-guard lineup, Fentress adds, as 6’3″ Norman Powell will keep the starting role he was given after being acquired from the Raptors at the trade deadline. After the deal, the Blazers’ starting lineup ranked fourth in the league in net rating at plus 13.3.

“I think in today’s game, you can play that way,” Billups said. “But to me, if you’re going to win that way, all three of those guys have to be committed on the defensive end of the floor. That can be an issue. It’s already been an issue.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Rookie guard Bones Hyland looks like he may be the Nuggets‘ latest draft steal, observes Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. Hyland showed off his full range of moves in a 28-point Summer League performance on Saturday. “When the bright lights come on, I never shy away from them,” Hyland said. “That’s been me my whole life. I make things happen when the lights are on. The bigger the stage, the bigger I play.”
  • President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said the Timberwolves are focused on “internal development” rather than trying to make a splash in free agency, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Minnesota hasn’t signed any free agents except for two-way deals, and Rosas suggests that any significant additions will come through trades. “You’re very strategic in addressing needs, but we don’t want to overpay for the sake of overpaying unless it makes sense for us,” he said. “We feel like the trade market is a little more efficient in that regard and we’ve invested a lot in our own players. We want to give those guys opportunities to take advantage of those roles.”
  • The Summer League emphasis is on developing young talent and finding players for the upcoming season, but the Jazz are also focused on winning a title after a 3-0 start, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News“I don’t think development and winning are mutually exclusive,” coach Bryan Bailey said. “They can go together. Part of the development is learning how to win. You want to see things, want guys to work on things. But it’s all together, it’s all intertwined.”

Western Notes: Pelinka, Hetzel, Finley, Brunson, Rockets

Mental toughness is one of the things the Lakers focus on regarding draft prospects, Jovan Buha of the Los Angeles Times writes. They have devised a 90-second shooting drill, among others, to help determine how well players can perform under pressure.

“It’s really a test of, ‘OK, it’s one thing to walk in the gym fresh and move and shoot and be effective. But how are you playing basketball once you’re exhausted, once you’re past your limits?’” president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka said. “Because that’s the fourth quarter. That’s when the game’s on the line. Can you perform at a high level when you’ve spent everything you have? And that’s the mentality that we know Kobe (Bryant) always played with. And so we have drills that test that fortitude.”

The Lakers hold the No. 22 pick, though they might trade it to help improve the roster around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Buha adds.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Steve Hetzel is expected to join Chauncey Billups’ Trail Blazers’ staff, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report tweets. Hetzel had been on the Magic’s staff under former head coach Steve Clifford.
  • Michael Finley is finalizing a new contract with the Mavericks which will give him a larger role in their front office as assistant GM and VP of player personnel under new president of basketball operations Nico Harrison, Marc Stein of Substack tweets. Finley had been Dallas’ VP of basketball operations for the past six seasons.
  • Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson, who could become an unrestricted free agent next summer, might be part of any major trade the team makes in the coming days, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. Brunson, whose $1.82MM salary must be guaranteed on August 1st, is a valuable asset the Mavs could use to reel in a bigger target, Townsend notes.
  • The Rockets have forged a partnership with Credit Karma Money as their new uniform patch sponsor, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Rockets played last season without a uniform patch sponsor after the agreement with ROKiT cell phones ended before the 2020 summer restart.

Blazers Rumors: McCollum, Simmons, Lillard, Powell, More

Teams are calling the Trail Blazers to inquire on guard CJ McCollum and offering the opportunity for Portland to move into the “top part of the draft,” according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. However, Quick reports that the Blazers aren’t seriously considering those offers, since they’re in win-now mode and are seeking veteran help rather than rookies.

As Quick details, the Blazers are open to a trade that would allow them to acquire an upgrade on McCollum. However, there are no obvious opportunities out there. A swap revolving around McCollum and Ben Simmons has long been the subject of speculation, but Quick suggests the Sixers likely wouldn’t be enticed by such a deal, even if Portland adds a young player like Anfernee Simons or Nassir Little to its offer.

Here’s more on the Blazers from Quick:

  • Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey has met twice with Damian Lillard since the season ended. They had a three-hour sitdown on June 19 at the team’s practice facility and then met in Las Vegas with new head coach Chauncey Billups last Friday, per Quick. During those meetings, Lillard conveyed his publicly-stated preference that the Blazers act with more urgency in upgrading their roster.
  • Despite Lillard’s call for urgency, it remains to be seen whether Portland will do anything drastic with its roster this summer. Quick says “there appears to be an inclination to run this group back again” in the hopes that Billups’ influence and a full season of Powell raise the Blazers’ ceiling. Quick acknowledges that exercising patience would be a risky approach, given Lillard’s unease, but points out there are some similarities to 2018, when the club made few roster changes after being swept in the first round and then reached the Western Finals in 2019.
  • Re-signing Norman Powell is the Blazers’ top priority in free agency. Billups recently met with Powell in Las Vegas and “communicated his vision” to the veteran swingman. The team hopes the hiring of Billups helps convince Powell to remain in Portland.
  • Olshey recognizes that building a bench led by Carmelo Anthony and Enes Kanter contributed to the team’s defensive shortcomings and will aim to add “long, rangy” players who can guard multiple positions and comfortably switch on defense, according to Quick.
  • The Blazers will likely try to buy a second-round pick in next Thursday’s draft, says Quick.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Nuggets, Jazz, SGA

When president of basketball operations Neil Olshey told reporters last month that the Trail Blazers investigated the sexual assault allegations levied in 1997 against new head coach Chauncey Billups and came away confident Billups hadn’t engaged in wrongdoing, he declined to offer any details on that inquiry. Olshey simply asked fans and the media to trust that the team had thoroughly investigated the situation.

However, a new report from Conrad Wilson and Tony Schick of Oregon Public Broadcasting calls into question just how exhaustive the Trail Blazers’ investigation was. According to Wilson and Schick, the attorney for Jane Doe (Billups’ accuser) said the Blazers didn’t contact her or her client.

“It’s news to us that they conducted an investigation,” attorney Margaret A. Burnham said.

The Blazers’ review didn’t obtain information directly from several primary sources, per the OPB’s report. That doesn’t necessarily meant the team’s conclusion about Billups’ involvement in the 1997 incident was inaccurate, but it suggests that the franchise may not have done everything it could to get the full story.

Whether the latest revelation results in any blowback for Olshey remains to be seen, as Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report tweets. Either way, the fact that the story continues to create PR problems for the club doesn’t reflect well on the Blazers or their head of basketball operations.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Alex Labidou of Nuggets.com provides some takeaways on the prospects that the Nuggets brought in for pre-draft workouts on Monday and Tuesday this week. Tuesday’s group included Chudier Bile (Georgetown), Carlik Jones (Louisville), Makur Maker (Howard), MaCio Teague (Baylor), Arnas Velicka (Lithuania), Moses Wright (Georgia Tech). Details on Monday’s group can be found here.
  • The Jazz‘s biggest problems in the postseason were a lack of depth and a lack of versatility, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News, noting that the team figures to face some difficult roster decisions this offseason as it looks for ways to improve.
  • There have been no reports stating that the Thunder are thinking about trading Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but some writers have put the 23-year-old in hypothetical trades that Oklahoma City could offer to move up in the draft. Responding to those suggestions, Ross Lovelace of Daily Thunder argues that Oklahoma City should be building around Gilgeous-Alexander, not considering moving him.

Blazers Notes: Billups, Olshey, Lillard, Nurkic, Collins

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.

Blazers, Chauncey Billups Agree To Five-Year Deal

10:35pm: The Blazers have issued a press release confirming they’re hiring Billups as their new head coach.

“Chauncey is a proven leader with an elite basketball IQ that has won everywhere he has been,” Olshey said in a statement. “He is prepared for the challenge of developing the championship habits and strategic approach we need to achieve the expectations and goals for our franchise.”


9:51pm: The Trail Blazers and Chauncey Billups have reached an agreement that will make the former NBA point guard the new head coach in Portland, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The team parted ways with former head coach Terry Stotts earlier in June.

It’ll be a five-year deal for Billups. The contract features four guaranteed seasons and a team option on the fifth year, per Wojnarowski, who adds that the new head coach will be officially introduced on Tuesday.

Blazers owner Jody Allen and president of basketball operations Neil Olshey met with finalists Billups, Mike D’Antoni, and Becky Hammon in Seattle this week. After their meeting with Billups, the Blazers’ franchise leaders were convinced he was the right candidate for the job, sources tell ESPN.

Portland is moving forward with Billups despite facing some criticism over the choice due to a 1997 sexual assault case involving the former All-Star. No criminal charges were brought against Billups, who was a rookie at the time, and the case was ultimately settled in civil court.

The Blazers looked into that incident before formally offering the job to Billups on Friday, and he encouraged the examination, says Wojnarowski. Billups’ answers in conversations with team officials aligned with findings from an independent investigation, and the Blazers didn’t learn anything they felt disqualified Billups from being offered the position, Woj adds.

Billups has no previous head coaching experience, but was considered a future head coach or GM during his days as a player based on his leadership and his heady approach to the game. Since retiring in 2014, he has worked as a broadcaster and – in 2020/21 – as an assistant coach on Tyronn Lue‘s Clippers staff.

The Blazers intend to be aggressive about filling out Billups’ staff with experienced coaches to help ensure a smooth transition, says Wojnarowski.

Billups will be tasked with elevating a team that has stalled out in the postseason in recent years. He’ll also play a major role in making sure franchise player Damian Lillard remains happy in Portland. A report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports on Sunday suggested that the Blazers’ roster shortcomings and the backlash to the coaching search have created some uncertainty about Lillard’s commitment to the organization.

However, Lillard has long expressed his desire to remain in Portland long-term and he remains under contract for four more years. He also publicly endorsed Billups early in the club’s coaching search. While it’s still possible he could ask for a trade, the Blazers will do all they can to address Lillard’s potential discontent.

The Celtics (Ime Udoka), Pacers (Rick Carlisle), Mavericks (Jason Kidd), and Blazers have now completed coaching searches this month. The Wizards, Magic, and Pelicans remain on the lookout for new head coaches.

Northwest Notes: Barton, Nuggets, D’Antoni, Rosas

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone would “love” for starting shooting guard Will Barton to return to the club in the 2021/22 season, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Barton has a $14.6MM player option.

“I would love for Will Barton to be back,” Malone said of Barton, who has been with the Nuggets since the club traded for him in a deal with the Trail Blazers during the 2014/15 season. “Everything he brings to the team. That’s on the court, off the court, in the locker room, from a culture standpoint. … He means a ton to me personally. He means a ton to this team and everything we’ve been able to accomplish these last six years. … Me, personally, I hope he’s back here for a long time.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets‘ chemistry, both on the court and on the bench, will eventually yield a title, opines Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post. The night during which Denver was ousted from the playoffs by Suns, in a four-game second-round sweep, MVP center Nikola Jokic, head coach Michael Malone, and team owner Josh Kroenke all sat down for a drink. “When I went home that night, I said, ‘Man, we got a really unique setup here,’” Malone reflected. “We’re all disappointed, we lost, no one was happy. … But to have an owner and an MVP who are just so down to earth and committed to doing whatever it takes to be better and find ways to win a championship, those two hours were so important.” The club was without its second-best player, guard Jamal Murray, for the entirety of its playoff run. Kiszla notes that the close bond between that trio is a rare thing in pro sports.
  • Nets assistant coach Mike D’Antoni was perceived as the runner-up finalist to land the Trail Blazers head coaching job that is expected to go to Chauncey Billups, write Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic. Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, who would have been the first female head coach hired by a franchise in the big four American men’s sports, was the third option, Charania and Amick write.
  • Timberwolves GM Gerson Rosas handled the end of the 2020/21 season and the lead-up to last week’s lottery with the right approach, writes La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. A mostly-healthy Minnesota team went 7-5 to close the season. Their top-three protected first-round pick fell to No. 7 in the lottery, and will be conveyed to the Warriors. Neal commends Rosas for wanting to see what the Timberwolves had under new head coach Chris Finch, rather than tanking and attempting to retain the team’s 2021 first-round pick.