In the superheated late-NBA bubble coaching carousel, a new name has entered the mix for the Indiana Pacers’ job: Chauncey Billups. He’s more than worthy of consideration.
The 2019-20 NBA season appeared to be a favorable one for head coaches for the bulk of the campaign. Only two coaches were fired between the season’s start and the NBA’s coronavirus-induced hiatus, both from the New York area: New York Knicks coach David Fizdale and Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson.
Since then, it’s been a bloodbath. During the NBA bubble in Orlando, Jim Boylen was fired by the Chicago Bulls (not a bubble team), Alvin Gentry was fired by the New Orleans Pelicans, Brett Brown was fired by the Philadelphia 76ers, Nate McMillan was extended and then fired by the Indiana Pacers, and the Knicks and Nets replaced their interim coaches with Tom Thibodeau and Steve Nash. Another name that is in the mix to get a head coaching job: Chauncey Billups.
The five-time NBA All-Star and one-time NBA champion (and Finals MVP) with the Detroit Pistons has been reported to be in consideration for the now-vacant Indiana Pacers job, and it’s about time.
Until recently, Billups had only been involved in negotiations for front office jobs, not coaching jobs. He had gone as far as getting offered a five-year contract by the Cleveland Cavaliers to be their president of basketball operations, but he was lowballed by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and opted to decline. Shortly thereafter he signed on with the LA Clippers to be a color commentator for their TV broadcasts.
The time may be now for Chauncey Billups
While the idea of Chauncey Billups being an NBA head coach is a new one, it seems like the fit with the Indiana Pacers might be ideal. They’re a team with talent and expectations, and they’re not a rebuilding program. Too often, coaches saddled with rebuilds fail to get the job done with their inadequate rosters, and black coaches, in particular, tend to bear too much of the brunt of responsibility of the failure to make things work with teams unfit to compete.
In these cases, we often find that no second chance is forthcoming.
For Billups, they have a mix of young players and veterans, they work hard, and barring a clear edict to rebuild from ownership and management (something that the Pacers have absolutely refused to do over the years), the organization should expect to continue contending perennially for playoff spots.
This is a roster that can win now, has the upside to achieve beyond the fourth or fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, and could still make some trades to improve that do not hinder their competitive window.
If Billups is analyzing this job opportunity from both the short term and the long term, there’s a lot to like from both sides. To some degree, Billups was a modern point guard before modern point guards exist, and that’s a major change from the perpetually old-school Nate McMillan.
Old-school has its place, but it’s tough to win without embracing some elements of the modern game, and that’s something Chauncey Billups can introduce to the Indiana Pacers.
Time will tell if he gets this job, but if it’s there for him, the opportunity seems too good to pass up.