Only a week after the Trail Blazers parted ways with Terry Stotts, Portland’s coaching search is already starting to take shape.
Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley are among the top candidates for the Trail Blazers job, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, who noted that Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni and Spurs vice president of basketball operations Brent Barry are also in that group.
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Hammon, a six-time WNBA All-Star who has been a member of San Antonio’s coaching staff since 2014, will interview for the Trail Blazers and Magic head coaching jobs, per Charania. Orlando parted ways with Steve Clifford after the 2020-21 season, reportedly because the two sides were not aligned on the franchise’s rebuilding timeline.
Staley, a five-time WNBA All-Star and a Hall of Famer, has a long track record of success at the collegiate level with the women’s programs at Temple and South Carolina. Staley has turned the Gamecocks into a national powerhouse, reaching multiple Final Fours and winning a national championship in 2017.
Billups has established a solid reputation around the league and should be a popular target for teams looking to fill vacancies. D’Antoni has a major experience advantage over the other candidates, including Barry, who played in the NBA for more than a decade but has never been part of a coaching staff.
Portland star Damian Lillard, who is reportedly expected to have “major input” on the team’s next coach, initially said that he wanted Lakers assistant Jason Kidd to get the job — Lillard later added that he also likes Billups — but Kidd quickly took his name out of the running.
“Portland’s a first-class organization and will have great candidates for its head coaching job, but I’ve decided not to be one of them,” Kidd told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “Whoever they choose will have big shoes to fill from Terry.”
Lillard hasn’t made any demands of the organization, according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, but his voice will clearly hold some weight. The key for the Trail Blazers will be finding a candidate who can maximize Lillard’s talents and push the team closer to title contention. Portland reached the playoffs in eight of Stotts’ nine seasons, but it failed to make it out of the first round in four of its past five postseason trips.