ESPN NBA analyst Chauncey Billups might be the latest figure to go from sports commentary to a front-office or coaching role. Previous figures making moves along those lines have found mixed success, including the good (Steve Kerr), the bad (Mark Jackson, Matt Millen) and the unknown-as-of-yet (John Lynch), but that hasn’t stopped professional teams from pursuing broadcasters.
The latest there might be Billups, as the Atlanta Hawks are scheduled to interview him Tuesday for their general manager position. Here’s more from ESPN’s Chris Haynes:
The interview is expected to occur Tuesday in Los Angeles, sources say, and it is believed the organization isn’t looking to drag out the hiring process.
Billups, 40, is a five-time All-Star who is regarded as one of the top young front-office prospects. The 2004 NBA Finals MVP has made it known throughout his 17-year professional career that under the right circumstances, he’d be intrigued by the possibility of running his own team.
Although he has no prior executive experience, Billups has long been a student of the game in understanding how to navigate within the collective bargaining agreement.
The Atlanta vacancy comes after coach Mike Budenholzer was stripped of his responsibility as president of basketball operations and Wes Wilcox, the former GM, was reassigned as special adviser to ownership earlier this month.
This could be an interesting move. While Billups doesn’t have the scouting or assistant GM background that’s often led to these positions in the past, he does have a lot of experience and relationships from his 17 years as a player, and he’s definitely stayed up on the modern NBA thanks to his work with ESPN. And we’re in an era where GMs have come in from more unconventional backgrounds, such as the Warriors’ Bob Myers (a former agent). Billups would certainly bring some star power to the Hawks, and he might have what it takes to find success there (although there would be plenty of questions about his lack of front-office experience).
It should be noted that Atlanta’s situation isn’t easy, though. That’s especially true thanks to Budenholzer only recently giving up personnel duties, Wilcox still having some influence, and a key talent in Paul Millsap potentially leaving in free agency.
Billups is just one of several candidates confirmed to be interviewing (Golden State assistant general manager Travis Schlenk and Washington vice president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard are others), so this may not be a sure thing for him, but if he does get the job, there will be challenges ahead. And ESPN would then have to face their own challenges in replacing him. We’ll see how this winds up, but it’s certainly notable that Billups is receiving consideration here, and even if this one doesn’t work out, he may get another front office offer down the line.