NBA

Trail Blazers expected to replace Terry Stotts if team doesn’t make deep playoff run, per report

Terry Stotts has been the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers for almost a decade, but with his team fighting to avoid the play-in round, his time with the team may be nearing its end. The Athletic’s Sam Amick and Shams Charania report that unless the Blazers surprise in the postseason, Portland is expected to bring in a new voice to lead the team. Amick and Charania reported that Portland would seek “a big name, high-dollar coach” to replace Stotts, and they named a few possibilities: Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Atlanta Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Dave Joerger, Los Angeles Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups or San Antonio Spurs executive Brent Barry. 

McMillan is a particularly interesting name considering his previous tenure in Portland. He coached the Blazers from 2005-2012 and was ultimately replaced by Stotts. But he has gone on to have successful tenures in both Indiana and Atlanta, and his emphasis on defense would be especially beneficial for a Portland team that currently ranks No. 29 in the NBA on that end of the floor. 

Kidd has something of a feast-or-famine reputation on that end. His aggressive blitzing scheme helped Milwaukee finish fourth in defense during the 2014-15 season, but that success faded quickly. Eventually, teams began to capitalize on all of the open shots behind the arc and at the rim that scheme generated, and Kidd lost his job to Mike Budenholzer. A tumultuous one-year tenure with the Brooklyn Nets won’t help his cause either, but Kidd’s time as an assistant for the defending champion Lakers has likely helped rebuild his reputation. 

Billups has been a candidate for a number of jobs in the past, but has never been a head coach in the NBA. Teams frequently overlook inexperience with star point guards, though. Steve Nash recently being hired in Brooklyn without ever holding a full-time NBA coaching job is a perfect example, and that hire has gone well for the Nets. Billups, albeit with some assistant experience under his belt, would fit the same mold. 

Joerger was recently the head coach of the Sacramento Kings, and letting him go is a decision they likely now regret. Charania and Amick reported that current Kings coach Luke Walton is on the hot seat, and it’s easy to see why. Joerger had a lot of success playing an uptempo style that Walton has largely disregarded. That same style would work well with a guard-heavy Blazers roster. 

And then there’s Barry, who spent years working in the media before joining the Spurs in 2018. He has worked primarily in the front office, though in San Antonio, there is quite a bit of overlap between coaches and executives. Both Nets GM Sean Marks and former 76ers coach Brett Brown worked in both departments for the Spurs, so perhaps Barry’s lack of coaching experience isn’t particularly detrimental.

Whatever direction Portland goes, their coach needs to be ready to win right away. Damian Lillard is 30 years old CJ McCollum will get there in September. The time to build around this core is now, so it is imperative that Portland finds the right coach moving forward. 


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