Terry Stotts - Page 2

Blazers’ Corner: Mid-season Report

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This week marks the halfway point of the season for the Trail Blazers and so far they’ve been a bit of a surprise. A recent winning streak pushed the team’s record to an impressive 20-15 mark and with wins over San Antonio, Memphis, New York and Miami, a team supposedly in a rebuilding year has positioned themselves for a possible playoff birth.

LaMarcus Aldridge
Aldridge is playing like an All Star once again.

But since a big win over the Heat, the Blazers have dropped six of seven games. In fact, before Wednesday’s blowout win over Indiana, Portland had played a franchise record ten consecutive games decided by six points or less. The team won the first four, but lost the following six. In a way, this stretch of games has served as a microcosm for the kind of season they’ve had. There’s been ups and downs but nearly every game has gone down to the wire.

With the season half over, here are a few observations.

They do things the hard way

Let’s go even further into the team’s close games this season. Of the Blazers’ 21 victories, only three have been legitimate blowouts. Forget wins. In 42 games this season, 26 have been decided by eight points or less. The way the season has been going, Blazer fans should have their blood pressure checked after every game.

The worst bench in the league

All of these close games aren’t doing the starters any favors. Among the league leaders in minutes, three Blazers (Batum, Lillard and Aldridge) are in the top 12. No other team has more than one in the top 20. Coach Terry Stotts has done his best to mix and match starters and bench players, but the ineffectiveness and inconsistency of every bench player has forced all five starters to log too many minutes. Eventually this will catch with them resulting in nagging injuries and inconsistent play from the starters. Somebody has to step up at some point.

The J.J. Hickson dilemma

Blazers’ GM Neil Olshey has said that unless there’s a deal too good to pass up, the organization will not make a move at the trade deadline. In a year that’s supposed to be about retooling and developing, Olshey doesn’t want to sacrifice long-term goals with short-term success.

If there’s one asset on the team that could be a potential trade piece this year it’s Hickson. Playing on a one-year contract, Hickson has been a double-double machine (He’s currently third in the league with 24). But has Hickson’s emergence this season been about being in the right situation or about putting up numbers in order to get a big contract? As good as he’s been, Portland has no intention of starting a power forward at center beyond this season, especially after the team drafted seven-footer Meyers Leonard.

Hickson’s value will never be higher than it is right now and if the team continues to slide, they might want to think about getting something for him before they lose him to free agency this summer.

Nicolas Batum, Paul George
Batum is having a career year.

The emergence of Nicolas Batum

Arguably the team’s first-half MVP, Batum has lived up to the contract he signed last year. Long gone is the Batum who would stand in the corner shooting 3-pointers and disappearing from time to time. Under coach Stotts, Batum has been allowed to be more of a play-maker (He recorded his first triple-double against Washington). He’s single-handily kept Portland in games and his versatility has allowed him to play and defend multiple positions.

If there’s one complaint, it’s that he’s sometimes too selfish. On a night when Portland needs scoring, Batum will look to involve his teammates over taking the shot himself. He’s currently averaging 13 shots-per-game. That number needs to be more like 16.

Damian Lillard is the real deal

Going into the season, the consensus was either Anthony Davis or Damian Lillard would be rookie of the year. With Davis’ continued injury problems and Portland’s success, there’s little doubt who is winning the award now. The Blazers have been searching for a starting point guard for many years now. Both long-term (Sebastian Telfair, Jerryd Bayless, Jarrett Jack) and short-term (Andre Miller and Raymond Felton) players haven’t worked out for a variety of reasons.

But Lillard appears to have the total package. He can shoot (Both spot-up and off the dribble), pass (willingly), dribble (In traffic and without too many turnovers) and most importantly, he’s calm under pressure. He never appears rattled and on more than one occasion this season, the young guard hasn’t been afraid to take the big shot. Portland definitely has their point guard of the future.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard is a safe bet to win Rookie of the Year.

The steadiness of LaMarcus Aldridge

There are only two players in the NBA averaging at least 20 points and 8 rebounds. One is Lebron James. The other is LaMarcus Aldridge. If there’s been a constant for the Trail Blazers, it’s been their All Star forward. If the team needs a bucket, they throw it into their quiet workhorse and while he’s been drifting further and further away from the paint, the outside shots have been falling.

If there’s one concern with Aldridge it’s the “tired legs” that have plagued him the last two seasons. The big man has been near the top in minutes played again this season and if the team has any aspirations of making the playoffs this year, they’ll need their best player healthy and rested come April.

At least the Lakers are terrible

If you had told me going into the season that at the end of January, in the midst of losing six of seven, the Blazers would still be four games better than the Lakers, I would have looked at you like you had three heads. The coaching changes, trade rumors and overall dis-function has been an absolute delight to follow this season. The Lakers have been long overdue for a losing-period. I just didn’t think it would happen to a team with four future hall-of-famers.

Where Did The Week Go…

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As a sports fan, when you go into a season knowing expectations aren’t very high for your team, it’s kind of a good thing. That way you can sort of relax when you sit down and watch them because the bar is already set really low.

Having said that, this particular incarnation of the Portland Trail Blazers has been pleasantly surprising. I know it’s only six games and they’ve lost three straight to fall to 2-4, but except for a terrible performance against the Clippers, Portland has been competitive.

The fact that they’ve been in every game indicates that the young players are (so far) buying into coach Terry Stotts and his coaching philosophy. But, this is the beginning of a long season so we’ll see how long they can keep this up.

In the mean time, here’s some quick observations so far.

Coach Stotts thinks LaMarcus Aldridge is Dirk Nowitzki:

Get closer Aldridge.

Every season, it seems like coaches, analysts and fans plead for Aldridge to score more in the paint. When it didn’t happen in the first few years, Aldridge was labeled soft and unwilling to take contact.

But that changed two seasons ago when the unfortunate end of the Brandon Roy era forced Aldridge to be the man. As a result, Aldridge suddenly turned into an entirely different player. He made a concerted effort to get in the paint and bang instead of settling for outside jumpers. This drastic and welcomed change eventually earned him an All-Star selection.

But under new coach Stotts, Aldridge seems to be reverting back to his old ways. With the exception of put-backs and offensive rebounds, Aldridge is doing most of his scoring from the outside. With his high-arcing follow-through, it’s hard for opposing players to block his shots and so far he’s been making those fade-away jumpers, but being closer to the basket increases your chances of putting the ball in the basket.

It’s still early and Stotts is probably still experimenting with Aldridge and Lillard together, but the team needs to establish a low-post scoring option at some point.

Great starting five, not much after that: 

This isn’t a big surprise. With the injury to Elliot Williams during training camp, my interest in the Blazers’ bench dropped considerably. There’s not one reliable player coming off the bench, not one. Can any other team in the league say that?

So far there’s been flashes of productivity from Ronnie Price, Sasha Pavlovic, Luke Babbit and rookie Meyers Leonard, but they haven’t all been in the same game. The victory over Houston was big, but the bench only contributed 6 points. In the loss to San Antonio on Saturday, the bench was outscored 63-4 (No that’s not a typo).

Of course there are other ways for players to contribute than scoring, but they can’t continue to rely on the starters playing more than 40 minutes every night. Someone has to step up. Remedy: Bring J.J. Hickson off of the bench and start Myers Leonard. Hickson appears to be a different player when he isn’t on the floor at the same time as Aldridge. Having him play against second-unit competition will not only give the bench a spark, but it will only boost Hickson’s confidence even more for late-game situations when you need him over the young Leonard.

Speaking of the bench. Don’t play Nolan Smith: 

It’s just not working out Nolan.

It pains me to say this, but Nolan Smith might be the worst player in the NBA. He seems to be incapable of dribbling with his left hand, he turns the ball over constantly and he’s not entirely quick for a guard. When Portland drafted him, I was excited. He was a name who went to Duke and played well his senior season when Kyrie Irving went down. But so far in his young pro career, Smith has proven to be nothing more than a name.

Mike Rice is more senile than ever:

Mike Rice has been with the Blazers’ organization since the early nineties. He worked on the radio side for a number of years before moving over to television with Mike Barrett. The duo have great chemistry and especially during a rebuilding year like this, you gain an appreciation for their entertaining banter.

Having said that, Rice appears to be aging rapidly. He knows his basketball, there’s no denying that, but he also seems to be having a “senior moment” more frequently.

At times this can be endearing. Like when he either mispronounces players’ names or combines them (I will now refer to Myers Leonard and Joel Freeland as Joel Myers as Rice put it the other night) or when he insists a player should have gotten that offensive rebound (even though said player is sitting on the bench).

But when does endearing turn into comical and a little sad. He’s had a great run in Portland, but perhaps it’s time for some fresh blood (Insert me here).

Nicolas Batum’s performance against San Antonio is very encouraging:

Portland needs more nasty out of Batum.

That’s the Batum I want to see every night. Not the passive wing player who disappears from time to time, but the nasty, pissed off player who demands the ball, wants to take the last shot and isn’t afraid too (even if he misses it like he did against the Spurs).

If we get “the dark side” of Batum more often than this team will have a chance to win a lot more games and the Frenchman can live up to the contract he just signed.

Damian Lillard is legit:

The Gerald Wallace trade last year appears to have worked out as Portland received Brooklyn’s lottery pick and drafted the young point guard out of Weber State. So far Lillard’s done nothing but put up rookie records in the same category as Oscar Robertson, Isiah Thomas and Lebron James.

The biggest challenge for Lillard (and you’ve seen it the last three games) is for him to adjust once other team’s have adjusted to him. Against Dallas, Darren Collison attacked Lillard immediately and got him into foul trouble in the first quarter. Against the Clippers and Spurs, Lillard saw a lot more double-teams and as a result, the guard made rookie mistakes like turning the ball over and trying to do everything by himself when the team wasn’t playing well.

But Lillard appears to get it. He’s poised, calm and willing to take the big shot or make the right pass if it’s there. It’s still early, but so far it appears Portland has found the player they needed to replace Brandon Roy.

Blazers Top Lakers, 93-75, In Opening Exhibition Game

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Lakers defenders watch as Leonard finishes a dunk in the Blazers’ 93-75 victory over LA in Ontario (Reed Saxon/The Associated Press)

ONTARIO, Calif. – Blazers fans were able to get their first real glimpse of the new Portland regime, headlined by draft picks Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard during their 93-75 victory over the Kobe Bryant-less and Dwight Howard-less Lakers.

Lillard was as good as advertised, scoring 14 points with five rebounds and seven assists, and played as a floor leader in only 24 minutes of action. It appeared early on that he would come close to getting a triple-double. Lillard was responsible for covering the soon to be hall-of-fame PG Steve Nash who put up a team-high 13 points.

Leonard had a solid performance as well, scoring 10 points on 4-4 shooting. Center J.J. Hickson got the start with Leonard coming off of the bench. It’s uncertain who will be the starter for the regular season.

But perhaps the most talked, or joked, rather, arrival was that of SF Adam Morrison. Morrison, a former top-3 pick in the NBA has had a completely disappointing career. He even has stated that this is his last chance to really make a solid career in the league.

Morrison scored 9 points on 4-6 shooting against his former team.

But it wasn’t just the two rookie and Morrison’s debut, head coach Terry Stotts also was on display after replacing interim coach Caleb Kanales. Portland showed it wanted to use its youth by outscoring the aging Lakers 19-10 in fast break points. Stotts will use that speed throughout the season. The Blazers also played 11 different players in the first half.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Stotts said to reporters after the game. “I thought Damian had a good first outing. He showed good signs, and the movement on our offense was pretty good. Defensively, we can get a lot better.”

Overall, it’s safe to say the Blazers were much more synchronized and playing as a team than would be expected with such a young team. There is still, though, a lot of room for growth.

The Blazers will play the Phoenix Suns at 7:00 pm PST on Friday.

  MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A REB AST STL BLK TO PTS
Blazers   LaMarcus Aldridge, F 24 4-12 0-0 6-7 8 3 0 1 1 14
Nicolas Batum, F 22 5-12 2-3 0-0 1 2 2 0 0 12
J.J. Hickson, F 18 3-6 0-0 0-0 5 1 0 3 1 6
Wesley Matthews, G 24 4-8 2-3 0-0 3 2 1 0 1 10
Damian Lillard, G 24 6-11 2-5 0-0 5 7 0 0 2 14
Victor Claver, F 12 1-3 0-2 1-1 1 0 1 1 2 3
Luke Babbitt, F 13 1-5 0-3 1-1 5 1 1 0 1 3
Joel Freeland, F 12 1-4 0-1 0-0 3 0 1 0 1 2
Adam Morrison, F 12 4-6 1-2 0-0 1 0 0 0 1 9
Jared Jeffries, F 12 1-1 0-0 0-0 2 0 0 0 0 2
Sasha Pavlovic, F 15 1-5 1-3 0-0 2 1 2 0 0 3
Meyers Leonard, C 18 4-4 0-0 2-3 5 0 0 0 2 10
Nolan Smith, G 21 1-6 1-2 0-0 4 3 0 0 0 3
Ronnie Price, G 16 1-2 0-0 0-0 3 3 0 0 3 2
TOTALS   FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A REB AST STL BLK TO PTS
37-85 9-24 10-12 48 23 8 5 15 93
43.5% 37.5% 83.3%
  MIN FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A REB AST STL BLK TO PTS
Lakers     Pau Gasol, F 30 3-12 0-0 2-2 3 4 0 3 1 8
Metta World Peace, F 30 6-10 0-3 0-0 5 3 1 0 2 12
Robert Sacre, C 21 2-5 0-0 4-4 3 1 1 1 1 8
Steve Nash, G 25 6-9 0-2 1-1 4 4 2 0 2 13
Jodie Meeks, G 24 1-7 0-2 4-4 5 1 0 0 0 6
Antawn Jamison, F 28 2-7 0-2 0-0 7 1 1 0 2 4
Devin Ebanks, F 17 3-8 1-2 3-4 4 0 1 0 2 10
C. Douglas-Roberts, F 14 2-5 1-2 2-2 1 1 1 1 1 7
Earl Clark, F 9 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 0 0 0
Greg Somogyi, C 5 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0 1 0
Ronnie Aguilar, C 4 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Andrew Goudelock, G 6 1-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Darius Morris, G 6 1-1 0-0 3-4 1 0 0 0 1 5
Steve Blake, G 15 0-1 0-1 0-0 3 2 1 0 3 0
Chris Duhon, G 8 0-3 0-1 0-0 1 0 0 0 0 0
TOTALS   FGM-A 3PM-A FTM-A REB AST STL BLK TO PTS
27-71 2-16 19-21 38 19 10 5 16 75
38.0% 12.5% 90.5%

Terry Stotts an Optimistic Change in Coaching Philosophy

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There were times last year when the Portland Trailblazers’ offense looked sluggish and stale in the hands of Nate McMillan.  In recent weeks, there seems to be a collective sigh of optimistic-relief in Portland as Terry Stotts, a relatively unknown but creative offensive mind, takes the helm as head coach with a vastly different approach to the game in comparison to the former man in charge for the Blazers.

Around the NBA, training camp will open in less than two weeks and the realistic wonderment for the Trailblazers is what will Stotts do for LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum that McMillan couldn’t?

In reading and listening to what is said about Stotts, he will not only draw up plays that fit the strengths of the Blazers as a team, but decipher with precise timing when to discipline and when to relax on them as a group and most importantly, as individuals.

Words like ‘peacekeeper’ and phrases like ‘unflappable demeanor’ have been used by NBA executives and players when describing Stotts as a leader with some of the game’s biggest names vouching for him.

“Dirk (Nowitzki) said he’s an offensive genius,” said Aldridge in a recent interview. “He played a very big part of the offense changing the year Dallas won the championship,” he continued.  “He was a key component of changing things to help free Dirk and move him around. Seeing how they used (Jason) Terry and Dirk in Dallas, they put people in a really tough position, made it tough to guard them. I’m looking forward to having him bring that type of scheme to our team.”

Stotts, 54, is familiar with the Pacific Northwest and this familiarity with the division isn’t just from his recent coaching days in the Western Conference.  Stotts started his career in the NBA coaching ranks as an assistant with the Seattle Supersonics under then head coach George Karl.  Winning from the beginning is accurate as his career started by reaching the playoffs eight times and the Finals once as an understudy to Karl who is one of the all-time great coaches in the NBA.

Now, in what seems to be a timely fashion almost 20 years later, Stotts has made his way back to a franchise in the Trailblazers that is very close to where it all started. For the Blazers and McMillan last year, it got to a point where it seemed as if his grasp on his own coaching philosophy was so firm that there was hardly room to breathe for the franchise or the players.

As Batum stood in the corner night after night waiting to shoot, it was baffling that McMillan didn’t simply put the ball in his hands and let Batum be more creative and effective as a slashing scorer.  McMillan instead seemed content with being stern within the Blazers mediocrity and force-feeding Aldridge down low in a slow-paced half-court offense that literally went nowhere.

In high regards to McMillan, though, it isn’t work ethic and preparation that will make him and Stotts differ as the former coach was an undoubtedly prepared man.  The biggest difference to be anticipated is the overall personal approach Stotts is infamously known for toward his players that even in the roughest times of the season, still gets the best out of them.

Along with a creative and structured offense that should be welcomed to players like Batum and JJ Hickson who has an uncanny awareness of his own somewhat unorthodox yet smooth presence on the court.

“There won’t be any doubt with Terry,” said Milwaukee Bucks lead assistant coach Jim Boylan who coached under Stotts for one season with the Atlanta Hawks.  “He will give the players confidence and they will play hard for him. He knows when to push guys and knows when to ease off the pedal.  Terry will be that guy. He will instill confidence in them to stay the course, stay together, and they will get better.”

Undoubtedly, Stotts will have a bumpy ride with a Blazers team that is filled with inexperience beginning with Damian Lillard, a rookie that will likely start at point guard.  Stotts will only be magnified and analyzed more in his demeanor as he deals with the young roster and an ever developing guard along with the handful of international players rounding out the Blazers roster starting with rookies Joel Freeland and Victor Claver.

“Those experiences in failing are going to be good for him,” Karl said of Stotts head coaching stints in Atlanta and Milwaukee that saw him with one playoff appearance in 2006 and an overall record of 115-168.

“One thing you can’t simulate is experience, and his experiences will prepare him for this chance. Terry has a first-class mind and a passion for the game.  He has all the talent to be a special coach. We all need opportunities to make mistakes and grow from our losing, and I think Terry has done a great job of staying focused and committed. I think Portland has made a really wise move.”

Where Did The Week Go…

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On Wednesday Terry Stotts was introduced as the 14th head coach in Trail Blazers history. After a coaching search that seemed to last forever, the hiring of Stotts was met with a collective “sigh” from Blazer fans.

Say hello to the new Trail Blazers coach.

More “sexy” coaching prospects had emerged over the last several months including Jerry Sloan and Phil Jackson. But at 70, Sloan is just too old to be coaching a younger team and I don’t believe Jackson was ever interested in coaching in Portland. He never wanted to come to Portland when he was with the Lakers plus Jackson has never coached a team that wasn’t a title contender.

So while those candidates seemed to be unrealistic, a more practical name was always going to be an assistant coach. Perhaps looking to follow the same model that Chicago did with Tom Thibodeau and what Scott Brooks did in Oklahoma City, Portland was looking for a coach that could help develop a group of young players. Names like Mike Budenholzer in San Antonio, Michael Malone in Golden State and Brian Shaw in Indiana felt like logical names.

But it seems like they “settled” for Stotts who in his mid 50s has a career .406 record (115-168) in two-year stints with the Hawks and Bucks. He is a more offensive-minded coach, something Nate McMillan struggled with, but the real question is, can he command respect from a group of young players who will want to prove themselves?

With a new starting point-guard in Damian Lillard, hopefully an eventual starting center in Meyers Leonard, two young players looking to emerge as legitimate NBA starters in Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum and an All-Star power forward in LaMarcus Aldridge who is entering his prime, Stotts will need to establish not only a good work ethic, but also a culture of winning right away.

“The identity of this roster should be to compete and play hard. Defensively, to have an attitude and a commitment and an effort toward playing defense. Keeping it simple: defensively those three things and offensively trust the pass, move the ball and be ready to make plays. At the core, that’s the simplified version. To me, the identity of this team is that everyone knows, including the fans, that they are going to compete hard every night,” said Stotts.

It is encouraging that Stotts is known as the offensive mastermind behind the Dallas Mavericks 2011 NBA title. If there’s two things young players love it’s offense and a championship pedigree. Unlike McMillan, Stotts will probably have a longer leash for the younger players and when a team is going through a learning and growing phase, allowing players to fail from time to time will be necessary.

In his press conference, Stotts cited George Karl and Chuck Daly as two examples of coaches who struggled early in their coaching career. Karl has been one of the best coaches in the NBA for more than a decade and the late Daly won two NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons in the early ’90s. If Stotts comes anywhere near those two examples, fans will probably change their minds on this hire.

Netflix Instant Pick: The Hunter

Martin David (Willem Dafoe) has a particular set of skills. No he’s not a lethal killer like Liam Neeson, but he is an expert hunter and tracker. Hired by a shady biotech company called Red Leaf, David is instructed to hunt down the last Tasmanian tiger. Red Leaf is interested in the DNA of the animal so Martin travels to Tasmania and poses as a scientist from a university so the locals don’t become suspicious of him.

An understated thriller featuring gorgeous scenery.

He moves into a small house and befriends Lucy Armstrong and her two children, Sass and Bike. Martin learns that their father went missing in the same area he intends to travel through. What was supposed to be a simple job of finding and killing an exotic animal turns into a game of avoiding the locals, discovering the truth behind the disappearance of their father and perhaps seeking a future he never intended to have.

The Hunter is a beautifully shot thriller that takes its time to develop the characters and avoids the cliches of most thrillers which rely too much on action. Dafoe gives an understated performance as a loner who likes working independently. Scenes of him walking in the Australian wilderness, setting traps and killing bait are fascinating to watch and his grisly-man appearance makes him seem more like an animal than a man.

While the wilderness scenes are fantastic, the moments where he interacts with the family are just as interesting. With their father missing, Martin quickly becomes a father figure to the two small children and it doesn’t hurt that he knows how to fix things around the house. The moments with the family are a nice contrast to the loneliness spent in nature.

The movie does have a few flaws. You never fully know why Red Leaf wants the DNA from the animal and Martin’s arc from complete loner to family man does come a little too quickly.

But this is a well made thriller with a steady pace and picturesque scenery. The film also features a gut-punching surprise near the end and a beautiful last shot that you know is coming, but you don’t really mind seeing.

The Olympic Games come to a close

It was another memorable Olympic games. The Americans dominated in the medal count, Michael Phelps ended his career in style and Usain Bolt once again proved why he is the fastest man on the planet.

But I was reminded by how much I enjoy the games and why having them every four years is kind of perfect. At no point in the past three years have I watched one second of swimming or gymnastics and very little of soccer and track & field and yet all four events proved to be dramatic and compelling this year.

Fireworks erupt during the closing ceremony.

I was introduced to like-able athletes like Missy Franklin, Gabby Douglas and Abby Wamback while also becoming a little annoyed by some who seemed to be focused more on themselves than the games (Ryan Lochte).

I attempted and failed to learn the intricacies of judging in gymnastics, still struggled with the rules of soccer (I’m American so it’s understandable) and routenely failed to pay attention to how long the races were in swimming. But I still found joy in witnessing some incredible Olympic moments.

The women’s US soccer team coming from behind three times to beat Canada to get to the gold-medal match, the men’s basketball team beating Nigeria by 83 points and watching local athlete Ashton Eaton declared the greatest athlete in the world with his win in the decathalon were among the most memorable.

In a way the Olympics seem to always focus more on the art of athletic competition than the money or endorsements. It’s probably because the majority of these athletes are not professionals. They’re just like you and me. But unlike you and me they have an insane passion and determination to work as hard as they possibly can for four years to achieve Olympic greatness. For the last two weeks we got to witness their successes and failures and four years from now in Rio, we’ll do it all over again.

Blazers Choose Stotts, Not Canales, as New Head Coach

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PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland TrailBlazers officially hired Terry Stotts (115-168 record as coach of the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks) on Tuesday night.

Stotts, after his time with the Hawks and Bucks, has spent the past four NBA seasons as an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks. Stotts will take over for Kaleb Canales (8-15) who replaced form coach Nate McMillan who was fired mid-season.

“I’m very pleased to be part of a great franchise in a beautiful city with such a proud history,” Stotts said in a news release sent out by the Blazers’ organization. “I look forward to working hard with Neil and our players toward the ultimate goal of bringing another championship to Portland.”

The job came down to Stotts and Canales, and it appears that Olhey and owner Paul Allen were interested in rebuilding from the top up. Mavericks’ head coach Rick Carlisle greatly praised Stotts to the Oregonian saying, “Of all the coaches presently in play, Terry is by far the best available. He’s a professional and understands the process of NBA coaching and how to communicate and teach young players.”

But the praise didn’t stop there. Carlisle emphatically repeated his belief that Stotts will be the perfect candidate for the Blazers’ organization.

“I had two others jobs prior to going to Dallas,” Carlisle said last month. “There are a lot of inexperienced coaches who might lose four or five early games and get paralyzed. Terry wouldn’t blink. It pains me to say this, but I think he’s 100-percent the right coach for Portland.

“My biggest concern then would be how do I replace him?”

Stotts inherits a Blazers’ team led by PF LaMarcus Aldridge and inconsistencies across the rest of the lineup. Portland has what appears to be a budding young star in Damian Lillard, but his potential is still yet to be determined. Also, the Blazer’s second-best player (Nicolas Batum) made it quite clear this summer that he would rather be with Minnesota.

Portland is a franchise in rebuilding, but they fortunately have an owner in Allen with the pocketbook to turn the team around. It all starts with the development of Lillard. If he can develop into a premiere PG, the Blazers will have one of the strongest “big man/little man” combos in all of the NBA. Portland’s front office believes that Stotts can do just that.

“Terry is one of the elite offensive minds in the NBA, has extensive experience with multiple organizations and was instrumental in the Dallas Mavericks winning the 2011 NBA championship,” said general manager Neil Olshey. “He understands the vision for the future of the franchise, appreciates the process involved and will create an environment on the court that will produce championship habits.”

While the hiring of Stotts isn’t all that shocking, what is surprising is Canales’ decision to remaining with the Blazers’ organization (according to reports from CSNNW). No one would blame him for wanting to take his talents elsewhere. After all, how awkward will meetings between him and Stotts be?

This hire certainly means something, as to what that “something” is will be discovered later. For now, Blazers fans will have to sit back and wait for the season to start.