The Portland Trail Blazers are expected to leave head coach Terry Stotts this offseason, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
“If Stotts can’t” pull a rabbit out of his hat “with some sort of playoff miracle, as one source put it, the Blazers should go for a new coaching voice,” Charania wrote. “And Damian Lillard’s timeline, it seems, plays a big part here. “
Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Atlanta Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan and Los Angeles Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups are among the names Portland could turn to to replace Stotts.
Few will be surprised if the Blazers leave Stotts as he appears to have pushed the franchise as far as it can go.
Portland is seventh in the Western Conference at 36-29, which would put the team in the play-ins to advance to the playoffs. The excitement over a 2018-19 conference final has dissipated, and Stotts could consider a first-round exit for the fourth time in five years – assuming the team enters.
The Blazers are expected to finish with their sixth most-winning record in Stotts’ nine seasons, but regular-season success ultimately only matters so much, especially when a star like Lillard is on the roster.
Lillard’s four-year, $ 176.3 million supermax extension will go into effect next season, and he has given no indication of being unhappy. But time is running out for Portland to capitalize as the 30-year-old still plays at the All-NBA level.
Portland isn’t a prime destination for free agents, and there’s no way to significantly upend CJ McCollum’s list of absent players. A change of coach would be the easiest lever to hope that something can change in 2021-2022.
ESPN’s Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Nate Bjorkgren was already on shaky ground with the Indiana Pacers in his first season at the helm. There is no guarantee that things would get better for the Blazers with Stotts gone.
But the property doesn’t have a lot of other options if it aspires to something more.