Chauncey Billups, who enjoyed a lengthy NBA career as one of the more notable point guards of his era, is reportedly among the candidates to replace Nate McMillan as head coach of the Indiana Pacers.
Citing unnamed league sources, ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote on Wednesday that Billups had “recently engaged” with Pacers officials about the job opening, with both sides expected to continue their discussions on the matter. He also noted that the 43-year-old “fits the historical profile” of former Indiana coaches Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas — who both won NBA Finals MVP honors as players and were considered “generational team leaders of men,” — who were given coaching jobs despite not having any prior experience.
As explained by Wojnarowski, Billups has earned a reputation for serving as “something of a finishing school” for some of the NBA’s top point guards since retiring as an active player. His proteges reportedly include Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors and Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics, both of whom are currently facing each other in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The ESPN insider also wrote that in recent years, Billups has “built relationships” with Indiana’s starting backcourt of Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon.
The new development on Billups comes close to a week after it was reported that he was hoping to get a head coaching job as early as the coming offseason. Previously, the expectation was for the former Detroit Pistons standout to start out as an assistant to an established coach for one or two seasons. Rumors had also suggested that Billups was interested in specifically joining erstwhile Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue’s staff in the event he’d end up leading a team in the coming 2020-21 season.
Should Billups get the Indiana job, he will be leading a team that was swept by the Miami Heat in the first round of this year’s playoffs. According to Bleacher Report, Indiana fielded a talented roster in 2019-20, albeit one that is entering the new season with multiple concerns, including the Oladipo’s future with the franchise and the perception that skilled big men Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner might not be a good fit in the same starting lineup. With those issues in mind, the outlet pointed out that Billups’ initial goal — if hired by the Pacers — would likely be to end the organization’s streak of five straight first-round eliminations in postseason play.
In addition, Billups won’t be the first new hire for the 2020-21 campaign to enter the world of coaching with no previous experience if he does replace McMillan in Indiana. Earlier this month, the Brooklyn Nets named another top-flight playmaker from the same era — former Phoenix Suns star Steve Nash — as their new head coach.