Chauncey Billups will be introduced as the new Head Coach of the Portland Trail Blazers in a press conference today at noon, Pacific time. President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey will welcome Billups to the franchise in Portland’s first in-person press conference since the spring of 2020.
Billups will become the 15th head coach in franchise history. His hiring has been accompanied by controversy due to backlash from a settlement in a civil suit against him for sexual assault in the year 2000.
We will bring you updates from the press conference as it unfolds.
Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey opened the press conference confirming that the extensive search ranged through over 20 different head coaching candidates, but cited Billups’ competitive fire and “natural gravitas leadership” as preeminent reasons for his hire. Olshey noted that even after the background check, the Blazers organization conducted their own investigation on the matter.
Neil Olshey: "Following an expansive, thorough, equitable search -- we started with over 20 candidates, they're all talented -- we're thrilled to announce Chauncey Billups as our next head coach."— Sean Highkin (@highkin) June 29, 2021
Billups himself then went into the specifics of that incident in 1997 and some of the residual effects that it has had on his everyday life.
Chauncey Billups: "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about how every decision that we make can have a profound impact on somebody else. I learned at a young age that every decision has consequences and that's led to some really healthy but tough conversations."— Sean Highkin (@highkin) June 29, 2021
San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon was among those snubbed through the hiring of Chauncey Billups. Olshey took a brief moment to praise her for making it as deeply into the process that she did, calling it an endorsement.
Olshey was transparent in his attempts to be private about the Billups hire. He recounts that out of respect for the Los Angeles Clippers — Billups’ current employer — he didn’t intend for news to leak as it did.
"Things get out before you want them to get out" - Olshey in response to managing the release of information regarding the hiring of Billups— Danny Marang (@DannyMarang) June 29, 2021
The conference pivoted over to more of the on-court aspects and how Billups can take this Blazers group to the next level. He made mention of the defense as the “first jump” the team needed to make, and some of the ways they could go about that (more physicality, communication, etc). In between that, Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report inquired for more information on Olshey and the Blazers’ investigation, but Olshey doubled down on what he previously stated.
I asked Neil Olshey for more details about the investigation. "That's proprietary, Sean. You're just going to have to take our word that we hired an experienced firm that led us to the results we already discussed."— Sean Highkin (@highkin) June 29, 2021
As the conversation returned to on-court play, Billups also endorsed the utilizing of Portland’s secondary scorers. He said that views Jusuf Nurkic is someone who can do more than he’s done previously.
Billups says the Blazers' current roster can improve...on defense, and on the offensive end. Says he thinks Nurk is an asset. "He can score more than he has in the past."— Jay Allen (@PDXjay) June 29, 2021
The relationship between the Portland Trail Blazers and All-NBA guard Damian Lillard has been called into question in recent days. Olshey defined on his role in keeping his star player content, as well as what the dynamic between the two of them are at this point.
Olshey said that Lillard “expressed to stakeholders” that he wants to retire as a Portland Trail Blazer.
Neil Olshey starts laughing when asked about @ChrisBHaynes report about Damian Lillard's happiness. "Dame and I talk all the time. Dame's happiness always revolves around winning. The ultimate responsibility behind that falls on me and my staff to put a team together."— Sean Highkin (@highkin) June 29, 2021
The conversation again returned to Billups’ past incident in 1997 through a follow-up question from Jason Quick of The Athletic. He asked if the allegations “shaped” him as a person, but was succinctly shot down by the PR.
I'm not at the presser but the Blazers cutting off a question about Chauncey Billups' 1997 legal case is not a good look. Deeply embarrassing at best.— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) June 29, 2021
Olshey also described what went into the thinking behind giving Chauncey Billups a five-year contract. He noted that boiled down to trust and belief in Billups’ vision.
Question: "Why a 5 year deal? (for Billups)"— Danny Marang (@DannyMarang) June 29, 2021
"Because we believe in Chauncey." - Olshey
Billups’ history as a former NBA player is something that could play a factor in his coaching style, and he illustrated how he hoped to preach accountability to his players. He went into detail on that mindset during the final question of the presser.
"The things that I've learned have come from all the coaches to I've played for - I've always responded more to coaches that were more honest with me...I respected the truth... & thats how I was as a player. My level of investment/work ethic - I could lead by example & vocally...— Danny Marang (@DannyMarang) June 29, 2021
"As a first timer it's really important to have a lot of experience on hand"— Danny Marang (@DannyMarang) June 29, 2021
"Having a really strong defensive presence... I value guys that will be able to relate and communicate with the players."
-Billups on shaping his staff/assistants