The Portland Trail Blazers suffered a first-round exit last season at the hands of the Denver Nuggets. They then decided to part ways with Terry Stotts, who had been in the franchise for over nine years. While many interviewed for the vacant coaching position, it was former Pistons player Chauncey Billups who was announced as the new head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers after weeks of speculation.
Billups was an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2020-21 season. However, the coaching job with the Portland Trail Blazers will be his first coaching assignment as head coach. The 2004 Finals MVP promised a terrific season with the Blazers this year. He also had a lot to say about center Jusuf Nurkic.
In an interview with Athletic, Chauncey Billups stressed how important the Bosnian center was to the Blazers' success during the 2021-22 season. Speaking to Athletics, Billups said:
"I’m excited to coach Nurk, I really am. This dude is uber-talented, man. I said what I said and I do believe we are going to get the best version of him this year. I’ve been on him about things I need from him."
Chauncey Billu[ps is confident that Nurkic will have a great season for the Portland Trail Blazers
Jusuf Nurkic only averaged 11.5 PPG, 9.0 RPG and 1.1 BPG last season. The center came late into the season, as he had lost his grandmother, who he was extremely close to. He also suffered an injury mid-season, which led to him producing his lowest numbers as a Portland Trail Blazers player.
However, the arrival of Chauncey Billups looks like a blessing to the Bosnian. As a player, Chauncey was part of the strongest defensive unit in the NBA. He will be hoping to bring in the same discipline to the Portland Trail Blazers next season. The team had a defensive rating of 115.3 all through last season, which ranked them 29th in the league.
Nurkic has been a stalwart of the team for a while now. There is no doubt that he will have to play a big role if the Blazers want to succeed as a team. During the interview, Billups also shared a few things he said to Nurkic, speaking about the same, he said:
"Nurk, I know you are going to be a free agent, and I understand you have to have a great year. You need me for you to have a great year, and I need you for us to have a good year. We need each other, right?’"
The appointment of Billups is expected to make some difference to the Trail Blazers team. His knowledge of the game has already helped him become an NBA champion and will help the team ascend to greater heights this season.