Rumor: Mike D’Antoni really wants Blazers star Damian Lillard to be his next star point guard
The Portland Trail Blazers are looking for a new head coach after firing Terry Stotts, and Brooklyn Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni is interested in working with another superstar point guard in Damian Lillard. According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, D’Antoni has “serious interest” in the gig, but it’s unclear if the Blazers are reciprocating that interest.
D’Antoni has coached a laundry list of star point guards throughout his career. D’Antoni helped turn Steve Nash into an MVP and recently coached James Harden, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook on the Houston Rockets. The Nets currently employ Harden and Kyrie Irving.
While D’Antoni and Dame seem like a great fit together, the Blazers could opt for a more defensive-minded coach after they finished 29th in the NBA in defensive rating this season. Poor defense was a downfall in the first-round series loss against the Denver Nuggets, and Blazers general manager Neil Olshey highlighted the defensive issues in his end-of-season press conference.
Lillard recently went public with his desire for Jason Kidd or Chauncey Billups to be the next Blazers head coach. Kidd turned down the gig because of the public nature of that request, but Billups is reportedly still in the mix. Olshey said he plans to conduct a wide-ranging search before deciding on the next head coach, which will be a monumental decision given the questions surrounding Dame.
We’ll see if D’Antoni gets some love from the Blazers in this head coach search. Portland has some big decisions to make this summer, and it’s unclear just how much longer Lillard is going to put up with early playoff exits before he asks for a trade. D’Antoni has had his share of playoff flameouts, but he surely would love to get his hands on another star point guard to run his offense.