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Blazers choose Chauncey Billups as head coach, passing on Mike D’Antoni

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2021 NBA Playoffs - Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Mike D’Antoni got two interviews for the vacant Trailblazers job, but in the end, Portland chose former Piston great and Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups over D’Antoni and Becky Hammon, the Spurs assistant.

Shams Charania broke the news Friday...

D’Antoni would have been the second Nets assistant to leave if the Blazers had chosen him. The Celtics announced they have hired Ime Udoka as their new head coach. D’Antoni handled offensive coordinating duties for the Nets last season, Udoka the defense.

Jacque Vaughn, officially the Nets lead assistant, remains in contention for the open Pelicans job, apparently being pushed by New Orleans GM formerly Sean Marks No. 2. On Friday, Brian Windhorst said Vaughn is “gaining traction.”

“I’m not saying he’s going to get his job because Charles Lee on the Bucks’ staff is also going to be a strong candidate,” said Windhorst. “The word coming out of Chicago at the draft combine is that Jacque Vaughn, who is close to Trajan Langdon... Jacque Vaughn is going to get a real serious look and has interviewed I believe with the Pelicans.”

The NBA’s seven head coaching vacancies are quickly filling up with the NBA Draft a month away. Other than the Pelicans job, the Wizards and Magic openings still must be filled. It’s uncertain if D’Antoni, the two-time NBA Coach of the Year, is in the mix for any of them as he had been with the Blazers.

The Nets fully anticipated they could lose up to three assistants this off-season.

Meanwhile, Alex Schiffer handicaps a group of potential replacements for the Nets assistants who move on, noting that Lloyd Pierce, the former Hawks head coach and Steve Nash college teammate, might be at the top of the list. Schiffer also notes that Raja Bell turned down a role with the Nets last season.

Among the others on the list: Jay Triano who was the head coach of Team Canada when Nash was the national team’s GM and is currently lead assistant on the Suns. Triano drew up the “Valley Oop” that beat the Clippers in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

The Nets had eight assistant coaches last season, not including Amar’e Stoudemire who served as a player development assistant. Brooklyn has moved player development assistants into assistant coaching roles.