On August the 7th, the Portland Trail Blazers hired a head coach. Terry Stotts was most recently the top assistant for the Dallas Mavericks and was chosen over interim head coach Kaleb Canales, who is going to remain on the staff as an assistant.
Stotts’ first head coaching job was with the Atlanta Hawks, where he replaced Lon Kruger in 2002 and coached the team until 2004. Those Hawks teams were terrible. The Terry Stotts era of the Hawks is probably best remembered as the team that Rasheed Wallace played one game for before getting traded to the Detroit Pistons and winning the 2004 NBA Championship. His other head coaching gig in Milwaukee resulted in two losing seasons. However, the Bucks did make the playoffs in his first season. He came in during Andrew Bogut’s rookie year and during Michael Redd’s scoring prime. In his second season in Milwaukee, he was fired with 18 games left in the season.
There were too many point guards in Milwaukee and those teams never had anything resembling a defense. If you’ve got Charlie Villanueva on your team, that’s just how things go. In Stotts’ second season, Michael Redd only played 53 games and Andrew Bogut played 66. Mo Williams became a well-known commodity as a scoring point guard name during Stotts’ time as head coach.
I couldn’t tell you what the hell was going on in Atlanta during his coaching days there, so I’ll give him a pass for that. That roster changed so much and it wasn’t until the Joe Johnson era that the Hawks stopped being a complete joke around the league. I’m not going to sit here and say the ridiculous roster turnover that was seen in Atlanta was all Stotts’ fault.
Yes, Stotts’ teams were bad. However, Stotts cannot be blamed for having personnel problems, ridiculous roster turnover and injuries.
Stotts is inheriting a much better situation than either of his previous two coaching jobs. Yes, the Blazers fell apart right before our eyes this past season, but the reason it was so frustrating was that it was essentially the same core that had led the Blazers to the postseason the season before. The same cannot be said for the Hawks or Bucks teams Stotts inherited.
What gives me hope for the Stotts era in Rip City is not where he has been earlier in this decade but where he is coming from right now. Stotts is coming from the Dallas Mavericks coaching staff and was the top assistant to Rick Carlisle. Carlisle’s X’s and O’s reputation is up there with the best in the league, especially after his defensive schemes helped Dallas win the 2011 NBA Championship. Stotts, having been part of a successful organization in Dallas has experience in winning in the playoffs. Stotts’ teams never had problems putting the ball in the hoop but were abysmal defensively. Hopefully his experience working with a smart defensive coach like Carlisle means that he will bring some of that defensive knowledge and successful schemes to Portland.
Also, even though the players said they loved Kaleb Canales, it’s something different for a team that desperately needed to cut ties with their past. By not hiring Canales as the head coach, they have officially hit the reset button on the McMillan era.
I’m giving the Stotts era a chance. His teams were all sub-.500, but were littered with inexperienced and mostly defensively incompetent players before he got there. Stotts didn’t drastically change the cultures of those teams. However, he has spent the last four years as part of a coaching staff and organization accustomed with not only reaching the playoffs, but winning when they get there. Hopefully for Portland, he has been seasoned and will bring Dallas’ winning culture to the team. So, for now, we should be positive about the Stotts era.
What else can we do?