NBA Rumor: Terry Stotts Hot Seat?

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Terry Stotts: 'I'm under contract for two more years'

But Stotts’ future is in question, with plenty of chatter about the possibility of a coaching change in Portland. “My job security? I’m under contract for two more years. I’m sure, just like the end of every year, we’re all evaluated. Players, coaches, management — we’re all evaluated. So we’ll see what happens,” Stotts said. “We’ll see what happens, but all I know is I’m under contract for two more years.”

Stotts, in his ninth season with the Blazers, was asked before the team’s game Saturday night against San Antonio how he is handling the rumblings regarding his job security. “I don’t know, I’m just coaching the team,” Stotts said. When asked if he thought he must get the team to a certain level in order to keep his job, Stotts responded with the same line: “I’m just coaching the team.” He then added: “It’s that time of year for speculation about coaches.”

Terry Stotts' time with Portland coming to an end?

Nearly nine years after Stotts became Trail Blazers head coach, sources say his time in the role is increasingly expected to come to an end after this season, in large part, because this team just can’t find a way to truly become elite. The Western Conference finals appearance in 2019 has been the apex of the Stotts era, with four first-round exits and two in the second round during this stretch of seven consecutive playoff berths. For the Trail Blazers, several factors — the lack of progress and adjustments over the course of the season, as well as Stotts’ stint with the franchise running its course after nine years — have made clear that the team will likely look for a fresh voice in the offseason. If Stotts can’t “pull a rabbit out of his hat” with a playoff miracle of sorts, as one source put it, the Blazers are expected to opt for a new coaching voice. And the Damian Lillard timeline, it seems, is playing a big part here.

Stotts, who sources say has less player support now than he did in years past, has one season left (upwards of $6 million). Among the potential coaching candidates for the Trail Blazers, sources say: Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan, 76ers assistant Dave Joerger, Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups and Spurs vice president of basketball operations Brent Barry. Sources say Blazers chairwoman Jody Allen, who took over for her brother, Paul, when he passed away in October 2018, has become increasingly focused on the Blazers’ future this season.

The question today rests somewhere between whether Stotts can teach defense, or whether the players can play it. As the playoff race intensifies, so too does the criticism about Stotts’ defense, which in his nine seasons in Portland has featured more average-to-poor seasons than good ones. It has created a tense backdrop to Stotts’ future in Portland. He is under contract through the 2021-22 season, and while he has made seven consecutive playoff appearances and is well-liked by his players, a source says the Blazers’ lack of defense throughout his tenure has become a topic with ownership in Seattle.

Terry Stotts safe?

I believe Lillard is still on board, and to my knowledge he still supports Stotts, and he shows that with comments such as on Monday, when like all good leaders he showed he is more in the business of accepting responsibility than pointing fingers. “As far as the big picture, I’m not in control of how that happens. I’m just one person,” Lillard said. “But I do know that I’m someone who needs to be contributing to us making an effort to improve our defense, and that’s all I can do.”

Terry Stotts safe

So while CJ McCollum’s best efforts will be worth watching, and the help of Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside is not for nothing, it won’t likely be enough. If this comes down to a tiebreaker with New Orleans, the Pelicans hold it against Portland (they went 4-0 head-to-head this season). A source with knowledge of coach Terry Stotts’ situation said there’s no reason to believe he’s in any danger this summer, regardless of how this turns out. He was given a contract extension through the 2021-22 season after Portland’s West Finals appearance last season.

Q: Not a Blazers fan, but what do you think they should do next? — (Alex, Sacramento) Marc STEIN: I’m guessing you’re asking about the roster, but first we have to deal with the status of the coach (Terry Stotts) and the general manager (Neil Olshey). Throughout the Blazers’ first-round sweep by New Orleans, there were rumblings around the league that Stotts’ job was in jeopardy and that teams such as Orlando and Phoenix were ready to pounce if he indeed became available. But that talk has largely quieted since Portland’s early exit.

Marc Stein: The latest word in coaching circles is that the Blazers prefer to keep Stotts heading into the final year of his contract — as they should. (I would argue Stotts should be up for an extension, but perhaps that’s a topic for a future Corner Three.) There’s a reason Stotts is wildly popular with actual Blazers fans beyond his whole “PhotoStotts” alter ego. It’s largely because he’s gotten the most out of pretty much every roster he’s had there.

Lillard in 2015 said as long as he is in Portland, he wants Stotts to be his coach. On Friday, he said one of the main reasons he chose to re-sign with Portland was because of Stotts. “How he is as a coach, and how he is as a person, is what I want to play for,’’ Lillard said. “When I signed up to be here and go through the rebuild and to move forward, he was a huge part of that. It’s because of our relationship and what I think of him and what I know of him to be to a team.’’

If Olshey approached Lillard and indicated the team was making a coaching change? “I would want to know why,’’ Lillard said. “Because I honestly don’t feel like he is the issue. As players we have to do things a lot better. I honestly feel like he is one of the better coaches in the league as far as being an offensive coach, but also in giving players an opportunity, and connecting with the players, too. And then we have a great coaching staff. That is not the issue.’’
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