The Portland Trail Blazers hired Chauncey Billups to be the team’s next head coach on Sunday.
Although Billups has some impressive credentials, the decision to bring him onboard led to a lot of criticism. And the party that received the brunt of that criticism was Blazers star Damian Lillard – culminating in a messy, controversial Twitter exchange that had massive implications.
As a result of the backlash Lillard received over Portland’s decision to hire Billups, he is now reportedly contemplating forcing his way off the Blazers.
Prior to hiring Billups, Portland was also in talks with San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon. Many thought that the 44-year-old might make history as the first female head coach in the NBA, but it didn’t happen.
On Monday, a story emerged that may explain why.
According to Jack Fischer of Bleacher Report, the Spurs allegedly didn’t give Hammon the most ringing of endorsements.
“Hammon impressed Portland officials and was generally liked among Blazers staffers,” he reported.
“But when Portland reached out for intel from San Antonio figures, the background on Hammon was not nearly as complimentary pertaining to various aspects of day-to-day coaching responsibilities. That sentiment has been echoed by sources around the league. Blazers personnel then cast doubt that Hammon was the candidate to steer the ship through such delicate waters with Lillard.”
While the prospect of Hammon becoming the first female coach of a team in a top-five American sport is obviously appealing, it’s hard to fault the Blazers for not hiring her if her own employers didn’t even give her a glowing review.
That’s one way to watch a game. https://t.co/rlfZSR4DDe
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 13, 2021
Hammon was previously discussed for another notable head coaching vacancy, only to fail at getting that spot as well.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving have both had interesting things to say about Hammon’s approach. Whether or not that approach is the reason she’s unable to advance to the next level of her career is unclear.
One way or another, Hammon eventually getting a head coaching gig feels inevitable. But the fact that it didn’t happen here definitely left some people feeling very salty about the process.