Chauncey Billups

Western Notes: Conley, Wolves, Mavs, Suns, Billups, Warriors

The calf/Achilles issue that sidelined Timberwolves point guard Mike Conley for Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals hasn’t gone away — he’s listed as questionable for Game 1 of the Western finals. Conley will play on Wednesday, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link), but the team will keep a close eye on that injury going forward.

“It honestly depends on if you can get through the game without having any small setback,” Conley said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “You have some movements that really kind of jar it or cause the pain to go up really quickly and kind of stays there for a little while. Some games I get through the whole game and you don’t have any setback and so you just kind of keep building upward and forward. So I’m just trying to stack as many of those days together as I can.”

Keeping Conley healthy will be crucial for the Wolves as they look to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. In the series vs. Denver, the team had a +13.6 net rating in the 196 minutes he played, compared to a -6.7 mark in the 140 minutes he wasn’t on the floor.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

And-Ones: Potential Coaching Changes, Wembanyama, France, Draft Odds

Head coaches Taylor Jenkins, Willie Green and Chauncey Billups could all be in danger of losing their jobs next season, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who discussed the topic with league personnel at the draft combine. Hollinger cites a belief that the Grizzlies, Pelicans and Trail Blazers will consider coaching changes if they get off to slow starts.

Jenkins has been mostly successful during his time in Memphis, finishing second in the 2022 Coach of the Year race, but he’s coming off a 27-win season as the Grizzlies were overwhelmed by injuries. Hollinger notes that the organization fired most of his staff prior to the combine, which could be a sign of trouble.

Green posted 49 wins this season, but New Orleans wasn’t competitive while being swept out of the playoffs in the first round by Oklahoma City. There’s been more scrutiny on Green’s offensive philosophies and player usage, especially at center, Hollinger adds.

Billups seems most likely to be replaced as he’s entering the final year of his contract and is reporting to a general manager who didn’t hire him. Portland also made changes involving its assistant coaches, and Hollinger states that Billups seemed to be trying to position himself for the Suns job before they hired Mike Budenholzer. Everyone that Hollinger spoke with expects Billups to be replaced by next offseason.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • In addition to trying to win a gold medal for France, Victor Wembanyama hopes to use the 2024 Olympics as a learning experience, per Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. “I am here to learn from some of the best players in the history of the national team,” Wembanyama said. “I am not here to explain anything to players with five, six or seven international campaigns under their belts. For sure, I will have responsibilities, but they will be realistic. I will have as many as necessary.”
  • Alexandre Sarr, who hopes to follow Wembanyama as the second French player to be drafted No. 1 overall, is part of a wave of NBA talent from the nation, Hollinger writes in a separate story. Zaccharie Risacher will also get consideration as the top pick, as four players from France may be taken in the first round. Wembanyama and Bilal Coulibaly both went in the lottery last year, and Hollinger notes that Nolan Traore is likely to be selected early in 2025. “I think we got so much talent, it’s exciting,” French native Rudy Gobert said. “You go (back) 20 years ago, we had a few guys like (Tony Parker) and Boris Diaw and (Nicolas) Batum, and now you look and there’s so much talent every year coming in. Credit the French clubs and the French federation for being able to develop some of this talent and allowing them to play to their abilities.”
  • HoopsHype has released its annual draft predictor, charting the most likely players to be selected by each team. The list starts with Sarr, who is considered to have an 87.9% chance to be drafted by Atlanta.

Suns Notes: Budenholzer, Billups, Coaching Search, O’Neale

After initially reporting that Mike Budenholzer will be a “prominent part” of the Suns‘ search for a new head coach following Frank Vogel‘s dismissal, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links) cites sources who say Budenholzer has emerged as the frontrunner for the position. A deal could come together relatively quickly, Wojnarowski adds.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 shared a similar report, tweeting that Budenholzer is the “most likely” hire for the Suns. Gambadoro suggested that the search process won’t last long, with perhaps just two or three candidates receiving serious consideration.

According to Wojnarowski, Budenholzer has been preparing for the possibility of returning to an NBA head coaching job by working on assembling a potential staff. He has also been mentioned as a possibility for the Lakers, but it sounds as if there’s more momentum toward a deal with Phoenix.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) has heard that Chauncey Billups would have support from Suns players as a head coaching candidate. Billups played on Team USA with Kevin Durant in 2010 and is a “known admirer” of Devin Booker, Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report points out (via Twitter). Of course, Billups is still under contract as the Trail Blazers‘ head coach, but previous reporting indicated that teams around the NBA are keeping an eye on that situation.
  • Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports takes a look at a handful of possible candidates to replace Vogel, discussing four other potential targets besides Budenholzer and Billups.
  • Should the Timberwolves’ road dominance in the first two games of their series vs. the Nuggets change the way the Suns view their four consecutive playoff losses to Minnesota? Bourguet explores that question in an article for the PHNX newsletter.
  • In one more story for PHNX Sports, Bourguet lays out why re-signing unrestricted free agent forward Royce O’Neale is the only logical option for Phoenix this offseason, since the team would have no real way to replace him with a similar player if he walks.

Coaching Rumors: Hornets, Lakers, Redick, Billups

The Hornets expect to decide on their new head coach within the next seven days, co-owner Rick Schnall told Alex Zietlow of The Charlotte Observer. While playing in the pro-am prior to the PGA’s Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, Schnall stated that the organization is nearing a final decision, but he wasn’t willing to tip his hand.

“We’re close. You’ll see us announce it certainly in the next week,” Schnall said. “We’re going to hire the best person that we can for our team.” 

The Observer has reported that Celtics assistant Charles Lee is considered the favorite to replace Steve Clifford, who agreed to move into a front office position after the season ended. Lee was one of several assistant coaches that the Hornets received permission to interview in early April. Zietlow notes that Lee is considered one of the best assistants in the league and he has a prior working relationship in Atlanta with Jeff Peterson, the team’s new vice president of basketball operations.

There are more coaching rumors to pass along:

  • The Lakers are moving slowly in their coaching search because two of their preferred options are unavailable, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column (subscription required). Jason Kidd, a former assistant in L.A., signed a multi-year extension with the Mavericks this week. And even if Tyronn Lue‘s extension talks are unsuccessful, the Clippers hold an option on him for next season, so it’s unlikely they’ll set him free to sign with their cross-town rival. Stein adds that the Lakers are conducting internal meetings this week to set their priorities in finding Darvin Ham‘s replacement. However, they’ve yet to request permission to interview any assistant coaches who might be targets, such as Lee, the Warriors Kenny Atkinson or the Nuggets’ David Adelman.
  • In the same column, Stein wonders whether there’s any action ESPN can take to prevent losing J.J. Redick to the coaching ranks before the NBA Finals wrap up. Redick is considered a potential candidate for the Hornets and Lakers, but he’s also a member of the network’s prime broadcast team. Stein points out that Doc Rivers had a featured position with ESPN before leaving in late January to become head coach of the Bucks.
  • Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian adds credence to the claim that Chauncey Billups would have other options if he parts ways with the Trail Blazers. A source told Fentress before the playoffs began that Billups could become a candidate for teams that are eliminated in the early rounds.

Teams Monitoring Chauncey Billups’ Situation With Blazers

Teams around the NBA are monitoring Chauncey Billups‘ situation in Portland, league sources tell Chris Mannix of (Twitter link). Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report (Twitter link) says he’s heard similar rumblings within the past 24 hours.

According to Mannix, if the Trail Blazers and Billups were to part ways, the Hall of Famer would “quickly emerge” as a candidate for other jobs. Mannix doesn’t specify whether he’s referring to head coaching jobs, but it’s worth noting that the Wizards, Hornets, and Lakers currently have openings, and it’s possible the Suns – who will soon make a decision on Frank Vogel – could join them.

Since he took over for Terry Stotts in 2021, Billups has led the Blazers to an 81-165 (.329) regular season record, with no more than 33 wins in any season. Portland went 21-61 in 2023/24, the worst mark in the Western Conference. The club finished the season ranked 29th in offensive rating (107.6) and 23rd in defensive rating (116.6).

Still, those disappointing results can’t be entirely attributed to Billups. The Blazers have traded away several veteran starters since he was hired, including Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, among others. Additionally, Portland has had bad injury luck in recent years and has been without multiple key contributors in each season — in 2023/24, Scoot Henderson, Deandre Ayton, Jerami Grant, Anfernee Simons, Malcolm Brogdon, Shaedon Sharpe, and Robert Williams all missed at least 20 games.

Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin said last month during his end-of-season media session that the plan is to bring Billups back for the 2024/25 season. However, there are some reasons to suspect that plan may not be set in stone.

Since the regular season ended, Portland has lost one assistant and decided not to bring back two others, including Chauncey’s brother Rodney Billups. Additionally, Billups is entering the final guaranteed season of his contract – the Blazers hold a team option for 2025/26 – and has expressed a desire to win next season, while Cronin has talked about player development being more of a priority for the franchise in the short term.

As Highkin wrote for Rose Garden Report in April, it doesn’t sound as if Cronin is looking to make a coaching change, but Billups also seems unlikely to receive an extension from the Blazers before the fall, so he’ll be entering the 2024/25 season as something of a lame duck.

Teams are presumably keeping an eye on the situation to get a sense of whether Billups is unhappy and if there’s a scenario in which he and the Blazers decide to mutually part ways. There would likely be many clubs with interest in hiring him as an assistant, even if he’s not able to land another head coaching position right away. He spent one year as an assistant with the Clippers before ending up in Portland.

Northwest Notes: Blazers’ Staff, Edwards, Thunder Bench

The Trail Blazers are shaking up Chauncey Billups’ coaching staff. They are not renewing the contracts of lead assistant Scott Brooks or Chauncey’s younger brother Rodney Billups, Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian reports. They now have three vacancies on the staff, since Steve Hetzel recently departed to join the staff of new Nets head coach Jordi Fernandez.

We have more on the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves All-Star Anthony Edwards torched Denver’s defense for 43 points in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals on Saturday. Edwards received good news from the NBA on Sunday, as the technical he was assessed during the third quarter has been rescinded by the league, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Edwards was given the tech for staring down Reggie Jackson.
  • The ThunderMavericks series begins on Tuesday and Thunder beat writer Ryan Stiles believes the Oklahoma City’s bench could be a deciding factor. They can call on Cason Wallace, Isaiah Joe, Aaron Wiggins, Gordon Hayward and Kenrich Williams to provide an impact,
  • In another piece from Stiles, he explores six other storylines to watch in the ThunderMavericks series.

Northwest Notes: Billups, Blazers, Porter Jr., Sarr, Biyombo

Chauncey Billups is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract with the Trail Blazers, who hold a team option on the 2025/26 season. Billups realizes that the team needs to show significant improvement in order for him to get an extension, according to Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report.

“In this business, I always feel like you’re trying to prove what you can do and what kind of coach you can be,” he said. “I’ve always felt that way and I feel no different going into next year. I’m looking forward to that opportunity to be able to prove how good I can be. In this league and any league in the professional ranks, you’re always coaching for your job. It’s a part of the business. But that doesn’t scare me. I’m not worried about it. I’ll be fine. I’m looking forward to it.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Blazers are planning to improve from within rather than making aggressive moves for high-priced veterans that could cost them major resources, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian reports. “We’re heavily invested in a lot of our young guys, so development will continue to be a focus,” GM Joe Cronin said. “We’re not going to win at an extremely high level until some of those guys are ready. But at the same time, it’s our job to give them the best environment to thrive in. And often that’s with additional help. I think this year there were some flaws in the roster, especially in some missing skill sets and just in general imbalance, where it made it complicated for those guys to reach their highest potential.”
  • Jontay Porter‘s ban from the NBA for gambling-related violations has taken a toll on his brother, Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., Bennett Durando of the Denver Post tweets. “It has not been easy for him,” coach Michael Malone said. “That’s why I give him credit, because he’s carrying so much in his heart and in his mind.”
  • Thunder big man and two-way player Olivier Sarr suffered a left Achilles tendon rupture during the G League Finals on Monday night, according to a team press release. In 15 games this season with the Thunder, Sarr averaged 2.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in 6.5 minutes. Sarr also saw action in 18 games with the Blue and averaged 14.0 points, 13.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 28.2 minutes.
  • Bismack Biyombo fainted during a game in early March. The Thunder center revealed to Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman that he was dehydrated due to fasting. Biyombo has fasted at various times throughout his career for religious reasons.

Cronin: Blazers Committed To Billups As Head Coach

Speaking today to reporters, Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin confirmed that the team is committed to Chauncey Billups as its head coach and indicated that the plan is to have Billups return for the 2024/25 season (Twitter links via Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report and Bill Oram of The Oregonian).

Cronin referred to Billups as “an incredible leader in this organization,” per Oram.

There had been some speculation that Billups was on the hot seat in Portland after a third consecutive disappointing season for the Blazers. Since he took over for Terry Stotts in 2021, Billups has led the club to an 81-165 (.329) regular season record, with no more than 33 wins in any season.

Portland submitted a 21-61 record in 2023/24, the worst mark in the Western Conference. The club finished the season ranked 29th in offensive rating (107.6) and 23rd in defensive rating (116.6).

Still, those disappointing results can’t be entirely attributed to Billups. The Blazers have traded away several veteran starters since he was hired, including Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, among others.

Additionally, Portland has had bad injury luck in recent years and has been without multiple key contributors in each season — in 2023/24, Scoot Henderson, Deandre Ayton, Jerami Grant, Anfernee Simons, Malcolm Brogdon, Shaedon Sharpe, and Robert Williams all missed at least 20 games.

When the Blazers hired Billups in 2021, they agreed to a five-year contract that included four guaranteed seasons, so he’ll be entering his final guaranteed year in 2024/25, with the club holding an option for ’25/26.

Northwest Notes: Ayton, Henderson, Billups, Murray, Hayward, Conley

Deandre Ayton and rookie point guard Scoot Henderson are developing the on-court chemistry that the Trail Blazers have been hoping to see, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. That duo led Portland to a pair of road victories this week, combining for 46 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists on Wednesday at Charlotte and 53 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists on Friday at Washington.

Ayton said Henderson, who hit a game-winning shot to beat the Wizards, is learning how to impose his will on teams in his first NBA season.

“We’ve seen glimpses of it right now,” Ayton told reporters. “Scoot’s being extremely poised in certain situations in the game no matter the momentum and he’s just really taken over.”

The short-handed Blazers have relied on Ayton to become their on-court leader, Fentress notes. Jerami Grant, Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, Matisse Thybulle and Malcolm Brogdon are all out of the lineup, leaving Ayton as the only player with significant NBA experience.

“DA doesn’t get the credit for being as smart as he is on the floor,” coach Chauncey Billups said. “He’s understanding the angle in which he has to set the screens for Scoot as teams try to go under him. I say it all the time with that pick-and-roll, it’s the point guard and the big guy, it’s a two-way relationship. It takes some time to get used to. You can see them starting to develop some chemistry in the coverages that teams play against us and against Scoot, which obviously is totally different than with (Simons). So, it takes some concentration to be honest with you, but I just love to see that chemistry developing between those two guys.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Billups called his selection to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall a Fame a bright spot in a difficult season for the Trail Blazers, Fentress adds in a separate story. “This definitely comes at a good time,” Billups said. “I think not just from me but just our group. Just to have some positivity. To have some good things to talk about about our organization, about our team. Because it has been a very tough year. But this has come at a really good time for all of us.”
  • Jamal Murray returned to the Nuggets‘ lineup on Saturday after missing seven games with inflammation in his right knee, per Bennett Durando of The Denver Post. Durando notes that Murray wore wraps on his knee and back during part of his pre-game warmup.
  • Thunder forward Gordon Hayward exited Friday’s game early due to soreness in his lower left leg, tweets Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman. He and Jalen Williams are both listed as questionable for today’s game at Charlotte.
  • Timberwolves guard Mike Conley flew from Phoenix to Memphis on Saturday so he could be part of a jersey retirement ceremony for former teammate Marc Gasol, according to Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune (Twitter link). Conley will catch a flight to Los Angeles in time for tonight’s game with the Lakers.

Basketball Hall Of Fame Officially Announces 2024 Class

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has officially announced its Class of 2024, confirming in a series of tweets the inductees that have been previously reported as well as the other finalists who were elected to the Hall.

Here’s the full list of new Hall of Famers:

  • Chauncey Billups: A five-time All-Star who made three All-NBA teams and a pair of All-Defensive teams, Billups won a championship and a Finals MVP award with the Pistons in 2004. He is currently the head coach of the Trail Blazers. (Twitter link)
  • Vince Carter: Carter played for an NBA-record 22 seasons and scored 25,728 career points, which currently ranks 24th in league history. He’s an eight-time All-Star, a two-time All-NBA member, and was the 1999 Rookie of the Year. (Twitter link)
  • Michael Cooper: Cooper won five NBA championships with the Lakers, earning eight All-Defensive nods and won the Defensive Player of the Year in 1987. (Twitter link)
  • Walter Davis: A six-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA member, Davis won the Rookie of the Year award in 1978 and remains the Suns’ all-time leading scorer with 15,666 points. He died in 2023. (Twitter link)
  • Jerry West: A Hall of Famer already as a player and as a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic team, West is being enshrined for a third time as a contributor due to his work as an executive for the Lakers, Grizzlies, Warriors, and Clippers. (Twitter link)
  • Doug Collins: A four-time All-Star as a player, Collins is being inducted as a contributor for his work as a head coach of the Bulls, Pistons, Wizards, and Sixers, including 442 career regular season wins, as well as his time as a broadcaster. (Twitter link)
  • Herb Simon: Simon has been the Pacers’ owner since 1983, making him the longest-tenured governor in NBA history. (Twitter link)
  • Seimone Augustus: Augustus was a two-time Naismith College Player of the Year and was the WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2006. She won four titles in the league, made eight All-Star teams, and claimed the WNBA Finals MVP award in 2011. (Twitter link)
  • Dick Barnett: Barnett, an NBA All-Star in 1968, won championships with the Knicks in 1970 and 1973 after earning three NAIA titles with Tennessee A&I College (now Tennessee State University) from 1957-59. (Twitter link)
  • Bo Ryan: Ryan was the longtime men’s basketball head coach at Wisconsin. He won four-time Big Ten Coach of the Year awards and made back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2014 and 2015. (Twitter link)
  • Michele Timms: A WNBA All-Star in 1999 and a Defensive Player of the Year runner-up in 1997 for the Phoenix Mercury, Timms won Olympic bronze and silver medals with the Australian national team. (Twitter link)
  • Harley Redin: The former men’s and women’s basketball coach at Wayland Baptist University (Texas), Redin won six AAU national championships. He died in 2020. (Twitter link)
  • Charles Smith: Smith is the winningest high school head coach in Louisiana history and has led nine teams to high school state championships. (Twitter link)

The enshrinement of the 2024 class will take place in Springfield, MA on Friday, August 16 and Saturday, Aug. 17.