The Portland Trail Blazers have officially introduced their new head coach, former NBA Finals MVP, and current assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers, Chauncey “Mr. Big Shot” Billups. Billups made an appearance at a press conference organized by the Blazers, wherein he answered several questions regarding his plans in the new role until one question caused the engagement to take an interesting turn.
Jason Quick from The Athletic alluded to a 1997 incident that Billups had addressed in a press release as one that “shaped him for the rest of his life.” This, of course, pertains to sexual assault allegations Chauncey faced in his early days in the league. When the question was asked, a person from the Blazers PR intervened, prevented Billups from responding to the question by saying this was asked and answered, and they were “happy to move on to the next question.” It is a pity, however, that Billups’ first day on the job involved questions about this, but it will only get worse until Billups answers these questions directly – a statement won’t cut it.
Such is the situation that Billups may have signed up for with Portland, a job that was supposed to be about taking the Blazers over the hump could turn into a rebuilding project any day now. Billups’ hiring did not only raise questions about his plans for Damian Lillard but has brought about debate whether he will be there at all.
Hired for his role in taking the Clippers this far into the postseason, Billups probably expects to replicate that feat and help bring change to a Portland team that seems stuck. This was meant to be a move that would entice Lillard to stay, but with his preferred coach in Jason Kidd now in Dallas, rumors of his departure are alive and well. Perhaps a first-time head coach is what finally pushes one of the most loyal superstars to seek greener pastures elsewhere.
The Knicks, Sixers, and Celtics have all been thrown around as potential trade destinations for Dame. However, ESPN’s Jared Greenberg reminds us of a cautionary tale when trying to put together blockbuster trades such as these. Citing the Carmelo Anthony Trade to the New York Knicks, Greeny worries that while Dame wants to win a trade may end up depleting the team’s roster in an attempt to generate equal value for Lillard. In this situation, he may get the exit that he is rumored to be looking for but not necessarily land him in a contender. Thus, a trade involving Dame will have to involve dealing him for a much younger superstar to allow for Dame’s new team to contend right away.
One team mentioned in the segment is the New Orleans Pelicans, who have a strong young core and some nice pieces that can potentially help Portland in their rebuild. As it seems like the Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson pairing has been underwhelming, perhaps a Dame for Ingram swap is what both teams need.
Ingram is young enough to be the centerpiece of Portland’s rebuild alongside CJ McCollum and automatically seems like a more organic pairing than the one they had with Dame. Give those two primary ball-handling duties but having the option to exploit Ingram’s size while putting Anfernee Simons at the point in a shooter role sounds like a good place to start.
For the Pelicans, a Zion and Dame pairing alongside Stephen Adams would make a core that can possibly make a deep run in the postseason. Having Dame would allow Zion to play some meaningful basketball and the chance to gain some valuable postseason experience, beginning the journey towards an eventual ring for Dame.
This is all speculation, and Dame staying in Portland is still the most likely outcome. The entire drama started because of the backlash Lillard faced for supporting Billups’ hiring in light of the 1997 allegations. That’s why the Blazers have to do a better job than “answered through a statement, time to move on.”
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