Portland Trail Blazers part ways with coach Terry Stotts after playoff loss
No team in the NBA has a longer active streak of postseason appearances than the Portland Trail Blazers, who have gotten there in each of the last eight seasons.
That wasn’t enough to save Terry Stotts, and Portland will have a new coach next season.
The Trail Blazers and Stotts parted ways Friday, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, ending a nine-year run that saw the team good enough to get to the playoffs — but not good enough to get past the first round in four of the last five seasons.
It was being termed as a mutual decision, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither Stotts nor the team had announced the change publicly. The move was made one day after Portland’s season ended with a six-game, first-round ouster at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, a defeat that had Blazers guard Damian Lillard taking to social media after the game to indicate his frustration.
ESPN first reported that Stotts would not be returning.
“Just like at the end of every year, we are all evaluated,” Stotts said after the season-finale against Denver and as speculation about his status immediately started to grow. “We will see what happens.”
During a stunningly sordid playoff exit Thursday in Game 6, the Lakers future is in doubt with LeBron James aging and Anthony Davis appearing frail.
It didn’t take long to get an answer.
Stotts was the NBA’s fourth longest-tenured coach in his current job behind only San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra and Dallas’ Rick Carlisle. He went 402-318 in his nine regular seasons in Portland, with the eight playoff berths, and led the team to the Western Conference finals in 2019 — where the Blazers were swept by Golden State.
Among the possible candidates that Portland may consider: Los Angeles Lakers assistant (and former Brooklyn and Milwaukee head coach) Jason Kidd, and ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy — whose last NBA coaching gig was with Houston in 2007.
“He should (be at) the top of everybody’s list who has an opening in the NBA,“ Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of Kidd earlier Friday, hours before Stotts’ fate became known.
The new coach, whoever it is, will certainly be lured by the chance to work with one of the game’s dynamic scorers in Damian Lillard.
But Lillard fueled speculation about his own future in Portland following the elimination loss to the Nuggets. He posted a photo of himself in street clothes at the Moda Center. The caption that he added quoted the late rapper and activist Nipsey Hussle.
“How long should I stay dedicated?” he wrote. “How long til opportunity meet preparation?”
Portland finished the regular season 42-30 and earned the sixth seed in the Western Conference.
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