Celtics Request Permission to Interview Former NBA Champ: Report

Getty Images Chauncey Billups, Jerome Allen, and Sam Cassell before the game between the Celtics and Clippers

As the Boston Celtics continue their search for a new head coach, one former player’s name who’s been mentioned in the same breath as Brad Stevens’ vacant seat pretty much since the organization made its shocking announcement — one week ago —  is expected to meet with the team’s new president of basketball operations.

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After announcing his retirement, Danny Ainge vowed to assist Stevens, the Celtics’ new president of basketball operations, through this important transition as the Celtics approach one of their most critical offseasons in recent history. The biggest part, arguably, of it will be the impending decision of electing the right head coach.

ESPN’s Woj: Brad Stevens Receives Permission to Speak to Clippers Assistant Chauncey Billups

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Stevens is expected to interview a new batch of hopefuls, including seven-time All-Star, 2004 NBA Finals MVP, and Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Chauncey Billups.

“ESPN Sources: Celtics president Brad Stevens has started to get permission to speak to head coaching candidates, including with assistants Chauncey Billups (Clippers), Darvin Ham, and Charles Lee (Bucks),” Wojnarowski tweeted Wednesday night. “Jamahl Mosley (Mavericks) and Ime Udoka (Nets).”

Billups was drafted third overall by the Celtics in the 1997 NBA Draft. Then, he was shipped to the Toronto Raptors just before that season’s trade deadline and bounced around the league a bit — making stops with the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves before finding a home with the Detroit Pistons, where he blossomed into a perennial All-Star and earned himself the nickname, “Mr. Big Shot.”

Now, his big shot is in Boston — where his basketball expertise is needed to salvage last year’s .500 Celtics team that for the first time in five years, saw its season come to an end in the opening round of the playoffs. Billups’ unique and impressive NBA career is something to behold when you consider the kind of impressionable guy of Chauncey’s stature can be for Boston’s All-Star duo Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Is Billups The Best Hire for Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown & The Celtics?

Becoming “Mr. Big Shot” wasn’t easy. For Billups, stints in Toronto, Denver, and Minnesota were all critical in his development, along with the pressures that come with being the no. 3 overall pick.

It’s the kind of pressure Tatum and Brown — two more no. 3 overall picks, respectfully, selected in back-to-back years (2016, 2017) by the Celtics one decade after drafting Billups — can certainly relate. Much how Jaylen’s season-ending wrist injury put an end to the best season of his career, Billups watched his season come to an abrupt stop in Denver.

It won’t be very hard for Billups, Tatum, Brown, and Boston’s trying 2020-21 campaign to find common ground. However, unlike the Celtics’ current pair of no. 3 draftees, Mr. Big Shot didn’t make his first All-Star team until he was 29-years-old.

Before then, Billups learned a whole lot. And by the end of his 17-year career; his basketball IQ was through the roof. Chauncey also did a good job of staying connected to the game after his playing days.

From ESPN’s broadcast booth to becoming an assistant coach under Doc Rivers in Los Angeles in 2019, Billups could be the voice Boston’s star tandem needs to guide the Celtics into a new era.