Tuesday morning two men were viable for the Portland Trail Blazers’ head coaching position. Tuesday afternoon, the dust settled and one man found himself with a job.
Terry Stotts will be operating the levers and pushing all the buttons for the Blazers this upcoming season, after the team declared him the new coach. Interim coach Kaleb Canales’s résumé will remain at 23 games.
Stotts garnered NBA front office attention after his recent assistant coaching stint displayed him as an offensive guru — for good reason too. With Stotts on staff as an assistant coach, the Mavericks offense peaked during the 2011 playoffs and became the best unit in the postseason on their way to an NBA title. Their fluid ball movement led to arrays of 3-pointers and an offensive onslaught that seemed irrepressible for opposing defenses.
But does Stotts have the stats to back up one postseason appearance?
Stotts boasts a 115-168 coaching record before he ever walks the court of the Rose Garden. He’s held two head coaching positions before from 2002-04 with the Bucks and 2005-07 with the Hawks. During those coaching tenures, Stotts arrived in the playoffs with his 2005-06 Bucks squad, thanks in large part to Michael Redd’s 25.4 point per game average, but with a losing record.
The offensive brilliance he’s billed with during his time with the Mavericks is noticeably absent when looking at his only postseason run as a head coach. His 2005-06 Bucks, who snuck into the playoffs as the 8-seed, were shellacked from the postseason by the top-seeded Detroit Pistons, who were the two-time defending Eastern Conference champs.
During his four seasons as head honcho, his offenses never finished the regular season better than 10th best in the league. His Bucks squad accomplished that feat when they scored 99.7 points per game, but in doing so they allowed opponents to ring up 104 points every night. His first head coaching gig saw his Hawks bunch post 94.1 points per game, which placed them 18th league wide.
Those offensive rankings still tower above Nate McMillan’s maniacal offensive reign, where his teams were notoriously slow paced and micromanaged.
It took Sarge three seasons to steer the Blazers toward a winning record. Stotts hasn’t had that kind of time in either of his past coaching gigs. But with the recent roster additions, and even LaMarcus Aldridge claiming the Blazers are a win-now team, Stotts may not be awarded that kind of time, should he flop in his first few seasons.
Kaleb Canales went 8-15, mostly by rallying the troops under the mantra of guys wanting to play hard for him and loosening the death grip on the offensive reins McMillan displayed. The attitude, and unmatched enthusiasm, awarded Canales a certain crevice in the hearts of many Portlanders, but did little else in the eyes of Paul Allen Tuesday afternoon.
Now, it’s Stotts turn to win the people over.