The Portland Trail Blazers are expected to formally announce the hire of Chauncey Billups as the team’s next head coach this coming week after it was reported the two sides were finalizing a deal this weekend, but suddenly the Blazers have much bigger issues facing them.
Damian Lillard is reportedly considering pushing his way out of Portland over increasing frustrations with the team’s construction and whether they can be a title contender and, maybe most notably, the backlash to the Billups hire that he has faced on social media, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
The enormous backlash from the Portland Trail Blazers’ process to hire a new coach and his concerns on whether a championship contender can be built have become factors that may push the franchise player — Damian Lillard — out the door, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
In the early stages of the Blazers coaching search, Lillard made it known that his preference was Jason Kidd, who quickly bowed out of consideration and has since taken the Dallas job, and also noted that he liked Chauncey — which seems to contradict Haynes’ note that none of the coaches interviewed were suggested by Lillard. Still, the Blazers silence to this point on the hire in the midst of ample backlash in Portland as the allegations have resurfaced and become known to many for the first time left Lillard answering questions about it on Twitter, which showed him growing increasingly frustrated with the perception the Billups hire was happening because of him.
Billups has long been considered a future head coach, but recently many in the basketball world were made aware of rape allegations against Billups from 1997 when he was in Boston. Billups has denied the allegations and settled a civil lawsuit at the time, never facing criminal charges, but the details of the allegations from the lawsuit are horrific and, understandably, have led many to have concerns about the possible hire.
It feels like Lillard has been contemplating whether he should just go ahead and push to get out of Portland and this hiring cycle has left him feeling hung out to dry by the organization and the fan base — who, it should be noted, have a right to voice their issues with a hire, and it just happens to be that Lillard is willing to engage with that on Twitter while Neil Olshey and the Blazers brass have refused to speak on it as of yet. This certainly seems like one final warning from Lillard that if something doesn’t change regarding how the Blazers are being run right now — read: Olshey — he very well could reach a breaking point and ask out. How the Blazers respond is going to be fascinating, with plenty of pressure to change course on the coaching hire from their fans and now Lillard making it known that he is extremely unhappy with how everything has played out so far this offseason.