Another former player is headed for an NBA head coaching job.
Chauncey Billups and the Portland Trail Blazers are working toward finalizing a deal that would make Billups the franchise’s next coach, a person familiar with the details told USA TODAY Sports.
The person requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the negotiations.
Billups, an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers, has Game 4 against Phoenix on Saturday, so the deal may not be completed until after that game.
Hall of Famer Jason Kidd reached a deal with the Dallas Mavericks to become their next coach, and three of the four coaches in the NBA’s conference finals are former players: Atlanta’s Nate McMillan, Phoenix’s Monty Williams and the Clippers’ Ty Lue.
Billups, 44, spent 17 years in the NBA and won a championship with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. He was named Finals MVP. He was also a five-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA selection and two-time All-Defense selection.
Chauncey Billups (Photo: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports)
Billups wanted to return to the NBA in some capacity and focused on coaching. Lue hired him before the start of this season.
"He’s come a long way in the last summer to now and he’s put the work in and now he’s going to have a chance to go to a team from (a) fresh start having his own blueprint on the team," Lue told reporters during the Western conference semifinals. "As far as being a coach, just his poise, I think he relates to the players. Him being able to communicate and being able to teach PG (Paul George) at the point guard position how to make plays, what he’s looking for in different situations, and he’s been working with PG all year."
From the beginning of Portland’s coaching search, Billups was high on the list of general manager Neil Olshey’s candidates to replace Terry Stotts. The Blazers also interviewed San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon and Mike D’Antoni.
Billups is tasked with taking a team featuring Damian Lillard and maximizing its potential in a deep Western Conference. The sixth-seeded Blazers lost to Denver in six games in the first round of the playoffs.
Billups brings automatic respect as a championship point guard who can connect with players.
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.
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