4 options to replace Chauncey Billups as Trail Blazers head coach

Chauncey Billups, Portland Trail Blazers - Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Chauncey Billups, Portland Trail Blazers - Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports /
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It’s time to face facts: The playoff chase is just about over for the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite a potential All-NBA season for Damian Lillard and numerous deadline moves to grab an impact wing, the team has slumped their way to a disappointing finish below the play-in.

With no paths to improvement, the next major change may be a new head coach.

Since the all-star break, the Blazers are 3-9 with their only wins coming over Houston, Orlando, and Detroit. In the twelve games since Lillard’s star showing in the 3-point shootout, Portland is 24th in offensive rating and 30th in defensive rating, leading to the worst net rating in the league over this stretch of games.

While injuries to Dame and other players have certainly been a factor, there’s nothing that Chauncey Billups has done to inspire hope in his ability to turn around the Blazers, either this year or next. In two years under Billups, the Blazers are only 58-93 and have posted one of the statistically worst defenses in the league. It’s looking like one of the worst recent moves for a team that’s made other key blunders.

Even with better personnel, it’s hard to imagine Billups’ deficient schemes suddenly changing overnight to facilitate a defense good enough to support a title contender surrounding Lillard.

Instead, there are a number of coaches – many of whom have yet to get a shot to be a head coach – who could step in, bring in an infusion of new energy, and change the future fortunes of the team.

Head Coaching Candidate #1: Charles Lee, Milwaukee Bucks

As a coach who has seen his name pop up in various head coaching searches already, it seems like it’s a question of when, not if, Charles Lee will get a shot to be an NBA head coach.

He’s been a vital part of both the last contending team in Atlanta and the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, serving as an assistant coach alongside Mike Budenholzer for most of his career. He’s seen his star rise all the way up to the point that he was named as the Bucks’ associate head coach, highlighting his worth to the franchise.

Lee is less of a pure X’s and O’s coach; he instead fits more into the Steve Kerr-mold of coaches who can manage egos expertly. He’s been an integral part of the Bucks’ championship culture and connects with all players on the roster, whether they are superstars or young players fighting for their next contract.

Lee would bring a new identity to a Blazers team with veteran stars like Lillard and Jerami Grant while also instilling a positive culture for young players like Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe. Lee’s reputation in the league would give him instant respect and could help him gather a great supporting staff to make him a rising star as a head coach in Portland.