Duane Burleson/Associated Press
Chauncey Billups, a former guard and five-time NBA All-Star, is leaving the door open to accept a head coaching job this offseason.
Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported Thursday the Los Angeles Clippers hired Tyronn Lue as their head coach, and Billups will serve as a lead assistant.
However, according to the Indianapolis Star’s J. Michael, the 44-year-old will join the Clippers’ staff only if the Indiana Pacers don’t hire him as the replacement for Nate McMillan:
“Multiple league sources have told IndyStar that the Pacers’ broad coaching search is winding down. They’re expected to pick three finalists and have them meet with ownership before the end of the month.
“Billups, who has no sideline experience but is a popular figure with players around the league, is a strong candidate to be finalist along with veteran coach Mike D’Antoni.”
Billups spent 17 seasons in the NBA as a player. In addition to his individual accolades, he was a critical member of the Detroit Pistons as they made six straight Eastern Conference Finals and won a title in 2004.
In retirement, Billups has worked as an analyst for ESPN and joined the Clippers’ broadcast team for the 2019-20 season.
He has been linked to various front-office vacancies in recent years. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks both interviewed him as part of their search for a general manager during the 2017 offseason. Before the hiring of Gersson Rosas, he was also a candidate to be the Minnesota Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations.
Coaching the Pacers would obviously be a more prestigious job than lead assistant for the Clippers. Losing out may not be the worst thing for Billups, though.
A transitional phase could be ahead for Indiana. Victor Oladipo will be a free agent in 2021, and The Athletic’s Jared Weiss reported he’s “looking to move on this offseason.” Even if he stays, Oladipo may not be the same player who was a back-to-back All-Star in 2018 and 2019, thanks to his ruptured quad tendon in January 2019.
Only once in the last 10 years have the Pacers missed the playoffs, but their fortunes could be trending in the wrong direction.
Serving as an assistant might be Billups’ backup plan, but it would allow him to build his profile before potentially being on the radar of teams looking for new coaches in 2021.
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