It was announced Monday that Terry Stotts will return as head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers.
He agreed to a three-year extension that takes him through the 2020 season, according to league sources. Yahoo Sports first reported the contract extension.
Stotts presided over the Blazers’ rise from left-for-dead to the second round of the NBA playoffs, and leading the Golden State Warriors for more minutes than they did in a best-of-seven series.
It took a few days for the Blazers and Stotts to work out the extension after the season but it was essentially a formality.
Stotts and President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey have, by virtue of how things go in the business, one of the most steady coach-GM tandems in the league.
But during the time that Stotts and Olshey have been together, they’ve also been brought together by Damian Lillard.
The Blazers’ journey through the season began with rough patches. But through it all, Stotts remained calm and positive. Never was anything, even the most epic collapses, a drama-filled endeavor.
Lillard believes that Stotts, as much as anybody, is responsible for fostering a nurturing environment.
“I think in large part because of (Stotts), it’s become a part of who we are,” Lillard said. “Just that culture, that trust amongst each other. Even on the floor.”
That trust translated itself in accountability but also in a culture where constant self-evaluation is accepted rather than shunned.
“There was a time this season when I came off and I took a tough shot and Mase was in the middle. Then Mase came up to me in the timeout and said ‘Dame you got to make that pass,’ ” Lillard said. “He didn’t second guess that ‘Dame might get mad or Dame may not take it the right way.’ We watched film the next day and from that point on its been gap, weak side. We’ve been on it. I think we got to give a lot of credit for the trust that we have amongst each other from Coach Stotts too.”
Ed Davis can’t say enough good things about Stotts.
“After a tough loss, coach comes off the plane and he’s still joyful,” Davis said. “He’s not in a negative mood. That’s sort of rubbed off on us, kept us together through the tough times. He’s a great coach but he’s a great human being also.”
Stotts said that this season was when his job boiled down to the true essence of coaching.
“Everything was about growth, improvement, getting better throughout the season,” Stotts said. “We did that individually, collectively and from a coaching standpoint that’s as pure as it gets. You don’t get to experience that very much at the NBA level.”
He knows that success could also mean that teams could come calling for his assistants.
“I think Jay Triano, Nate Tibbets and David Vanterpool are all ready to be considered for head coaching jobs,” Stotts said. “I think they’re all prepared to do a great job as a head coach, depending on what the team is looking for.”
Stotts also wanted to give credit to the players, for without them, a coach’s words are just that.
“I’ve never had a roster 1-to-15 that spent as much time on the court as this team did,” Stotts said.
Perhaps more than any other time in his tenure, the Blazers have an established way of doing things and even though he will duck the credit, in large part it starts with Stotts.
“I think this season really set the tone for what this team can do moving forward, not only what it can do or how it will do it,” he said. “How we play. How we conduct ourselves in the practice facility, how we go about our business, how we treat each other. It’s the how as much as the what.”