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Prior to his appearance on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast Tuesday, the sentiment surrounding Chauncey Billups and his desire to get back into the NBA was that he was primarily interested in a front office role.
That line of thinking suddenly shifted when Billups made it apparent to Wojnarowski that’s he’s open and attracted to coaching.
“(When) I’ve talked about my future most of the time it’s always kind of been front office stuff but as I start to take a deeper dive into my future whenever that is that I decide to get back in or not, I’ve opened up my mind to the opportunity to coach. I know I like to have a day-to-day impact on guys, similar to how I was as a player, when I led a lot of my teams. One of my fears about being in a front office, not a fear but a reservation, is maybe I don’t have that kind of day-to-day influence and impact on a guy like I’m used to. So that’s kind of why I entertained the opportunity…”
The ‘opportunity’ that Billups is referring to was one that would have put the likely Hall of Famer on the Orlando Magic’s staff alongside Frank Vogel. Vogel and Billups broke into the league together in 1997-98 when Billups was a rookie with the Boston Celtics and Vogel was the team’s video coordinator.
Like the Magic, the Denver Nuggets also have an opening (or two) on their coaching staff for next season, and frankly, Billups as Michael Malone’s top assistant makes too much sense not to happen.
The main objection Billups said that he had about taking the Orlando gig, was that it would move him too far away from his family in Denver. One of Billups’s daughters is still in high school and being around her while she grows up is important to the Colorado native.
“My second daughter has a couple more years of high school so I didn’t really want to move away,” Billups said. “It became more of a personal thing than just a coaching job. But it was a great opportunity.”
With the Nuggets, Billups would be Malone’s No. 1 assistant, a post that was vacated by first-year assistant coach Ed Pinckney who resigned earlier this offseason. He’d also be able to stay local in Denver with his family.
The opportunity to work with Emmanuel Mudiay is another aspect of a job with the Nuggets that could interest Billups. The ability to tutor and guide the 20-year-old through the NBA the next couple of seasons has to be attractive to the former point guard.
Mudiay and Billups have been in constant communication this summer about a wide range of topics ranging from ways to control the pace and tempo of the game as a point guard, to acting as more of a leader both on and off the court.
“Me and Chauncey Billups, we’ve got to hang out this summer some,” Mudiay said during Denver’s Summer League mini-camp. “He’s like my big brother now. I’ve talked to him, go to him for advice too. I’ve talked to a lot of people, but me and Chauncey really have good a chemistry-type thing, a relationship-type thing, little brother big brother, So I could talk to him about almost everything which he’s helping me with it.”
Billups could pick right up with Mudiay where former assistant coach Dee Brown (who also left the coaching staff this summer) left off and build an even stronger relationship with the point guard.
The effects Billups would have as a member of the Nuggets’ coaching staff wouldn’t end on the court. He’d be instrumental in landing key free agents ahead of the 2017 offseason where the Nuggets are on track to have room for two max-level players.
Billups is one of the most respected figures in the game of basketball today – think of him as a suped-up Mike Miller on the recruiting trail. Miller was reportedly in New York with the Nuggets when they met with free-agent Dwyane Wade and relationships like the one Miller had with Wade are the type that Billups has throughout the league.
Earlier this offseason I wrote about the pros that would come with Billups joining the Nuggets’ organization, before he made it known that he was interested in coaching.
Tim Connelly has done amazing work as general manager and inserting Billups into the front office could divert from the plan Connelly has put in motion to get the Nuggets back to the playoffs. A role with Billups serving as president of the Nuggets and working on big picture items like free agency, while Connelly takes responsibility for the day-to-day operations was a scenario that was thrown around by many and could work.
However, now that Billups is on record saying that he’s open to coaching, there’s suddenly another avenue to the point guard who spent 4.5 of his 17-year playing career in the Mile High City joining the Nuggets’ organization again.
A role as Malone’s lead assistant is one where Billups can grow and flourish. He’d lift the Nuggets’ national appeal, would be a valued addition to the coaching staff, and is a great fit alongside Denver’s young and maturing core. Plus, the Nuggets are local, allowing Billups to stay close to his family. Billups would also be a power PR move from a franchise that needs all the momentum and preseason buzz as possible amongst its fan base heading into next season.
Billups as an assistant coach with the Nuggets checks all the right boxes. It’s an opportunity the Nuggets need to seek out, pursue and capitalize on. The rewards of having Billups back in Denver are simply too great to ignore.