عالمية عالمية

Portland Trail Blazers reach agreement on 5-year deal to hire Chauncey Billups as coach

The Portland Trail Blazers reached an agreement on a five-year deal to hire LA Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups as the franchise’s new coach on Sunday, sources told ESPN.

Billups, 44, will be introduced at a Tuesday news conference in Portland.

The deal includes a team option on the fifth season, sources said.

Blazers’ president of basketball operations Neil Olshey and Billups’s agent, Andy Miller of Klutch Sports, finalized the contract terms on Sunday, sources said. The Blazers offered Billups the job on Friday night, and the sides had been progressing on a deal to replace former coach Terry Stotts over the weekend.

The Blazers’ landing of Billups sets the franchise course on trying to maximize the prime years of All-NBA guard Damian Lillard’s career by elevating the team into deeper runs in the Western Conference playoffs. Portland has advanced to two conference semifinals and a conference finals in the Lillard-Olshey-Stotts era.

After Blazers chair Jody Allen and Olshey met with Billups in Seattle on Wednesday, they were convinced that he was the right candidate, sources said.

Before making a formal offer on Friday night, the Blazers continued investigating an alleged 1997 sexual assault incident involving Billups, sources said. No criminal charges were ever brought, but there was a settlement in a civil case.

Although Billups had been vetted several times for high-level NBA leadership jobs, including an offer to become president of basketball operations for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 and in his current role with the Clippers, the Blazers used much of the search process to revisit the allegations from Billups’ rookie season in the NBA, sources said.

Billups encouraged the examination, sources said, and his answers in several conversations with Blazers officials aligned with findings from an independent investigation, sources said. The Blazers ultimately found nothing that they believed disqualified Billups from becoming the franchise’s new head coach.

The Clippers credit Billups for his success in working with All-Star Paul George to advance his playmaking skills this season. Olshey’s history with Billups goes back, among other ways, to their time together with the Clippers in the 2011-2012 season.

Olshey has long considered Billups one of the best leaders he had ever encountered in the NBA, and that relationship — along with Lillard’s public endorsement — played a part in Billups choosing the Portland job over other opportunities, sources said.

Billups is tasked with elevating a Blazers defense that ranked among the worst in the league last season and continuing to build on a top-rated offense featuring Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Portland plans to be aggressive in surrounding Billups, who served one season as a Clippers assistant, with an experienced coaching staff. Billups replaces Stotts, who left Portland after eight straight trips to the playoffs that included three first-round exits in the past four years.

Brooklyn Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni and San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon also met with Allen and Olshey in Seattle, sources said.

Billups is a five-time NBA All-Star and the MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals as a member of the Detroit Pistons.

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