Los Angeles (AFP)

Chauncey Billups, currently assistant coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, will take over as head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, his new club announced in a statement Sunday night.

"Chauncey is a confirmed leader with an IQ forged by years in the elite of basketball, he won wherever he went," said Blazers president Neil Olshey, for whom Billups "is. ready to take up the challenge of developing championing habits and a strategic approach allowing us to achieve our goals ".

The former five-time All-Star and NBA champion with the Detroit Pistons, who retired his number 1 jersey in 2016, is 44 years old.

He'll have to give Damian Lillard's Trail Blazers - who publicly endorsed Billups' pick - the stature of a more successful franchise in the play-offs.

This will notably require a drastic improvement in defense and a consolidation of the attack around Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Billups will be the 15th Head Coach of the Trail Blazers.

He's been an assistant coach for the Clippers since November 2020, but his current club are currently down 3-1 by the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Western Conference Finals.

The next game in the series is scheduled for Monday.

"I am very excited and at the same time very humble when it comes to being the Trail Blazers' next coach. Portland is a special place and a unique franchise," said Billups.

A press conference will be held in Portland on Tuesday, ESPN had announced earlier, specifying that the five-year contract included a "team option" (allowing the franchise to decide what to do with the contract) to the fifth year.

The rumors which took Billups to the Blazers in recent days have resurfaced accusations of meeting rape which the new coach was the subject of in 1997, along with other NBA players, from a young woman.

The case was concluded by a civil arrangement.

ESPN reports that the Blazers franchise has extensively investigated the matter, an investigation encouraged by Billups himself, and have not ruled that it disqualifies his candidacy for the coaching job.

Portland is playing the playoffs for the eighth straight year, the NBA's current record, but has been eliminated five times in the first round, including four times in the past five seasons.

In 2019, the Blazers were beaten in the conference final (4-0) by the Golden State Warriors.

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