Trail Blazers training rumors: Becky Hammon and Dawn Staley among Portland’s top contenders

Just a week after the Trail Blazers parted ways with Terry Stotts, Portland’s coach 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 Also in this group are Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni and Spurs vice president of basketball operations Brent Barry.

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Hammon, a six-time WNBA All-Star who has been a member of the San Antonio coaching staff since 2014, will be interviewed for the Trail Blazers and Magic head coaching positions, per Charania. Orlando parted ways with Steve Clifford after the 2020-21 season, apparently because the two sides were not aligned on the franchise’s rebuilding schedule.

Five-time WNBA star and Hall of Fame member Staley has a long track record of success at the college level with women’s programs in Temple and South Carolina. Staley transformed the Gamecocks into a national powerhouse, reaching multiple Final Fours and winning a national championship in 2017.

Billups has built a solid reputation in the league and should be a popular target for teams looking to fill vacancies. D’Antoni has a major experience advantage over the other contenders, including Barry, who played in the NBA for over a decade but was never on a coaching staff.

Portland star Damian Lillard, who should have “Major entry” on the team’s next coach, first said he wanted Lakers assistant Jason Kidd to get the job – Lillard later added that he liked Billups too – but Kidd quickly withdrew his name of the race.

“Portland is a first-class organization and will have some great candidates for his head coaching position, but I’ve decided not to be a part of it,” Kidd told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “Whoever he chooses will have big shoes to fill with Terry.”

Lillard hasn’t made any requests to the organization, according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, but his voice will clearly carry weight. The key for the Trail Blazers will be finding a candidate who can maximize Lillard’s talents and bring the team closer to the title race. Portland has made the playoffs in eight of Stotts’ nine seasons, but has failed to come out of the first round on four of his last five playoff trips.

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