Stotts discusses LA's return
ATLANTA– Let’s keep things in perspective: The Portland Trail Blazers were expected to be fighting for the last playoff spot.
Instead they are 46-27 and head coach Terry Stotts has had a huge part to play in that. Yes, prior to Thursday night’s 100-85 road win over the Atlanta Hawks, they had dropped nine of its last 13 games.
They’re struggling a bit. It happens. Ask the Miami Heat.
The outrage has gotten so out of hand that many are suggesting that Stotts’ hold on the team might be slipping in the midst of this slump, thus the reason the organization hasn’t granted him an extension or had his option picked up for next year.
When it comes to the players, they say Stotts’ grip is as tight as it’s ever been.
“I think our relationship with coach is good,” Damian Lillard told CSNWW.com. “I love coach Stotts. That’s the coach. I think when the boat starts to rock a little bit, that’s when everybody is, ‘Uh oh. What’s going on with the coaches and the players? Why are they losing games?’ It’s tough, but our group is still here. We’re staying together.”
Small forward Nicolas Batum concurs, expressing that the line of communication continues to be present and open.
“We’re all still talking to one another,” Nicolas Batum said to CSNNW.com. “If you start to separate and get mad at each other, that’s when things go bad. Coaches go on one side and the players on the other side, that’s the worst thing that can happen to a team. But we’re staying together. We’re struggling but we’re staying together.”
As far as Stotts’ contract situation, it will eventually play itself out.
Golden State is in the news of late for its friction between management and head coach Mark Jackson. Reports insinuate that the primary issue stems from the coach’s uncertainty with the organization. Jackson has one more year remaining on his deal but word is he would prefer an extension.
Which brings us back to Stotts, who has guided this Trail Blazer squad to unforeseen territory. He is in the second year of a three-year deal in which the third year is a team option. There have been no extension interchange up to this point, nor has there been any discussion on exercising his option.
How does a coach who has exceeded all expectations not have a deal in place for next year? It’s really not that uncommon and it means very little in the grand scheme of things.
General Manager Neil Olshey has a stern policy that he has adopted dating back to his Clipper days that goes for both players and coaches: He will not engage in contractual dialogue until after the season is completed.
This means decisions on options and extensions will be made in the offseason, allowing the necessary cooling off period from a vigorous 82-game season to fully evaluate the all-inclusive body of work.
Olshey isn’t new to this situation. During the 2011-12 lockout season, then-head coach Vinny Del Negro led the Clippers to a 40-26 record, which at the time, was the best winning percentage in the franchise’s history.
That was the second year of Del Negro’s deal, and what’s currently happening in Portland is the same exact thing that happened in Los Angeles almost three years ago: speculation went underway, questioning if Del Negro would be retained or not.
Things really took a turn for the worse when the San Antonio Spurs, in the Western Conference semi-finals, swept the Clippers, further intensifying the supposition. It all ended up working out, however. Del Negro was notified in late May that his third-year option would be picked up.
So the moral of this story is not to read into anything when it comes to absentee chatter in regards to Stotts’ contract state of affairs nor shouldn’t you question his command of the team.
Everything will fall into place in due time and his players believe he’s the right voice.
“Coach is not going to go get a rebound or get a stop for us,” Wesley Matthews said. “He can say whatever he wants until he’s blue in the face. He’s saying all the right things. It’s just up to us to do it.”