Terry Stotts, Trail Blazers Agree to Part Ways After 1st-Round Loss to Nuggets

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2021

Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts talks to his players during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio, Friday, April 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

The Portland Trail Blazers and head coach Terry Stotts mutually agreed to part ways on Friday after the team was eliminated from the playoffs by the Denver Nuggets, the team announced

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported there are already multiple candidates to take over the position:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Among candidates expected to be considered for the Blazers opening, sources tell ESPN: Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, Jeff Van Gundy, Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni, and Michigan’s Juwan Howard.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports previously reported Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd "is expected to be a top target" to replace Stotts. 

Haynes also noted Damian Lillard will "have major input" on the coaching search: 

Chris Haynes @ChrisBHaynes

Source: Damian Lillard to have major input on the next head coach. Stotts was the only coach he’s played for in his nine seasons in the league. After the way the season ended, it was time for a change. https://t.co/opzDtX7LP3

The Trail Blazers finished the regular season with a 42-30 record and earned the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. The year still ended earlier than many hoped after the squad was eliminated in the first round for the fourth time in five years.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported in early May the team could move on from Stotts because "this team just can’t find a way to truly become elite."

Portland was a model of consistency under Stotts, reaching the playoffs in eight straight years while finishing at least .500 in all but two of his seasons with the squad. With Lillard and C.J. McCollum leading the backcourt, this was always a dangerous opponent.

In 2018-19, the squad finally reached its potential with a trip to the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Golden State Warriors.

Postseason success was unfortunately hard to come by besides that year, however. Stotts went 20-36 in his first seven trips to the playoffs, with each elimination coming in either four or five games. The Trail Blazers lost in six games this year.

It took an incredible run from Lillard in the Orlando bubble last season to simply reach the playoffs despite a 35-39 record. The Los Angeles Lakers still won the first-round series 4-1 on their way to a title.

Stotts coached four losing seasons with the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks before coming to Portland in 2012. He led the squad to 402 regular-season wins in this stretch to go with a .558 win percentage.

The 63-year-old was named Coach of the Month seven different times in his career and has over 25 years of experience on NBA staffs, which could allow him to get another opportunity next season.

Portland, meanwhile, will need to find a coach who can get the squad to the next level. Lillard and McCollum are under contract through at least 2023-24 while young players like Derrick Jones Jr. and Anfernee Simons have showed potential.

It could make this an opening to watch heading into the offseason.