Blazers Committed To Chauncey Billups As Coach, GM Joe Cronin Says

Portland Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin told reporters that the organization is committed to Chauncey Billups as head coach, despite Portland missing the NBA playoffs in each of Billups’ first three seasons.Chauncey Billups, NBA, Portland trail Blazers

There’s been speculation that the Blazers could part ways with Billups, who potentially then would be in the running in the Detroit Pistons’ head of basketball operations search.

But Cronin squashed those rumors by calling Billups “an incredible leader in this organization,” per Bill Orem of the Oregonian.

Portland marks Billups’ first head-coaching job. They finished 21-61 in the first season after trading star guard Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks. Billups is 81-165 overall as the Blazers have been in reload mode for his entire run.

In other Blazers news, center Deandre Ayton labeled his first year with the franchise a success.

“My first season here went amazing. It was a learning experience,” Ayton said. “I truly got to see what kind of player I am.

“What I showed you guys the second half of the season is what I’ve been trying to show my whole career.”

Ayton averaged 16.7 points and 11.1 rebounds in 55 games with the Blazers, as well as a career-high 1.0 steals. The former No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick was acquired by Portland after spending his first five years with the Phoenix Suns.

He was part of a three-team trade that sent him from the Blazers to the Suns (along with Toumani Camara) and also involved the Bucks.

“It was really encouraging to see the way he navigated this season,’ Cronin said of Ayton, via Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report. “You saw early on it was a little shaky, and it wasn’t really his fault. Just us acclimating to him. … By the time January and February hit, DA was a completely different player.”

Portland finished last in the Western Conference and sported the second-worst record overall in the NBA.

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