Chauncey Billups has emerged as a candidate to replace Nate McMillan as coach of the Indiana Pacers, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Billups, who has worked as a broadcaster since his retirement from the NBA in 2014, has no coaching experience, but that is not a prerequisite for either the Pacers or this coaching cycle in general. Steve Nash was recently of the Brooklyn Nets without full-time coaching experience, and the Pacers hired both Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas sight unseen decades ago.
Billups, like those other hires, was a star during his playing career. Like Bird and Thomas, he won a Finals MVP award in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons, and like Nash, he was among the best point guards from his era. He has been highly sought after for front office roles since his retirement, including a lengthy courtship by the Cleveland Cavaliers to run their basketball operations in 2017. He declined that offer, and according to Wojnarowski, he is focused on entering the coaching ranks.
The Pacers are the first team with an available coaching job known to be interested in Billups, but according to Wojnarowski, former Cavaliers coach Ty Lue has courted him as a possible top assistant should he land one of the head coaching positions he is known to be a candidate for: the New Orleans Pelicans and Philadelphia 76ers.
While he has not held an official coaching position yet, Billups has worked with a number of current players during offseasons, including Kyle Lowry and Marcus Smart, according to Wojnarowski. Billups was also the first winner of the NBA's Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award in 2013.
While most coaches don't get top jobs without at least some prior experience in the field, Billups, like Nash, is a worthy exception. Revered among teammates for his basketball IQ and communication skills, it was only a matter of time before Billups made the leap into a high-level coaching or front office position. Now, it appears that could come as soon as next season with the Pacers.