The Portland Trail Blazers were one of the surprise success stories of the 2013-14 NBA season. Just a day after being eliminated from the 2014 NBA playoffs, coach Terry Stotts is being rewarded for Portland's surge with a multi-year contract extension.
News of the deal was reported Thursday through a news release on the Blazers' official website. General manager Neil Olshey shared his thoughts about the deal:
Terry has done an outstanding job during his first two years with the organization. This extension illustrates our confidence in him as our head coach as well as the Portland Trail Blazers' continued commitment to building a model of consistency and stability.
Olshey helped position Stotts for a big step forward thanks to his bold decision to select Weber State point guard Damian Lillard with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2012 draft. Lillard was the NBA Rookie of the Year and blossomed in his second season into a legitimate star alongside big man LaMarcus Aldridge.
Stotts has advocated an uptempo offense since taking the job before the 2012 campaign, and Lillard was the ideal, dynamic athlete to man the point. The Oregonian's Jason Quick alluded to the exciting brand of basketball Stotts has brought to the Rose City:
Blazers do the right thing and award Terry Stotts with extension. Players like him and his offensive style is aesthetically pleasing.— Jason Quick (@jwquick) May 15, 2014
The climax of Stotts' tenure was also the biggest shot of Lillard's young career, as the youngster nailed a three-pointer to win the Blazers' first-round playoff series over the Houston Rockets:
Per the team's release, Stotts, 56, expressed gratitude for being able to spend the foreseeable future with the franchise.
Portland is a unique and special place and I'm very proud to be the head coach of the Trail Blazers. We started the process two seasons ago and laid the foundation for success. I look forward to the possibilities of the upcoming seasons.
Grantland's Zach Lowe felt Stotts was deserving of the new contract after guiding the squad to a 54-28 record and the fifth seed in a stacked Western Conference:
Blazers announce a contract extension for Terry Stotts. Really good coach. Happy for him.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) May 15, 2014
How will the Blazers fare next season?
Bowing out to the San Antonio Spurs in five games during the postseason was nothing for the Blazers to be ashamed of. Now that Lillard has gained valuable playoff experience, and Stotts has established himself as a desirable authority in Portland's locker room, he should continue to develop this team into a premier NBA squad.
The fact that the Blazers have room for improvement after being a top-five scoring offense in the regular season and the Association's top rebounding team has to scare the rest of the league. If Portland can make even a moderate improvement defensively, its chances of getting into legitimate NBA Finals contention will be enhanced in the coming years.
Stotts is already looking to the bright future ahead for his talented nucleus of players based on his comments from Thursday. The level of mutual comfort and trust between Stotts and his best players should only continue growing, given the results Portland produced this year.
With Olshey guiding the front-office decisions, Lillard steering the ship on the court and Stotts manning the sidelines, there's reason for Blazer fans to be optimistic about the stability that comes with Stotts and his ideal fit in this Portland power structure.