Trail Blazers part ways with coach Terry Stotts; Damian Lillard voices his choice for replacement

The Trail Blazers didn’t wait long to make a change after a disappointing first-round exit. 

Only a day removed from a Game 6 loss to the Nuggets, Portland and coach Terry Stotts agreed to part ways, the team announced Friday night. Stotts, 63, leaves the Trail Blazers with the second-most coaching wins in franchise history (402-318 record), behind only Jack Ramsay (453-367), who guided the team to its only NBA championship in 1977.

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“I have the utmost respect for Terry and what he has accomplished these past nine seasons,” Neil Olshey, Portland’s president of basketball operations, said in the team’s statement. “This was a difficult decision on both a personal and professional level but it’s in the best interest of the franchise to move in another direction. Terry will always hold a special place in the Trail Blazer family and the Portland community.

“We relied on the integrity, professionalism and consistency he brought to the job every day and we wish he and Jan nothing but the best.”

Portland reached the playoffs in eight of Stotts’ nine seasons, but it failed to make it out of the first round in four of its past five postseason trips. The writing was on the wall for Stotts after the Trail Blazers failed to defeat a Nuggets team that entered the 2021 NBA playoffs without starters Jamal Murray and Will Barton and backup guard PJ Dozier.

Now the Trail Blazers head into a pivotal offseason looking for a coach who can lead the team to a deep playoff run. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that Portland has a few potential replacement candidates in mind: Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups, ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy, Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni and Michigan coach Juwan Howard. 

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, whose four-year supermax extension will kick in beginning next season, is expected to have “major input” on the next coach, per Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. Lillard made his views public Friday, and his first choice was not on the above list.

He told Haynes and The Athletic’s Jason Quick and Shams Charania on Friday night that Lakers assistant Jason Kidd should get the job. “Jason Kidd is the guy I want,” Haynes quoted Lillard as saying.

Lillard was less committed to Kidd in his comments to The Athletic (subscription required), leaving the door open slightly for Billups. “I like J. Kidd and Chauncey,” he said.

Sources told Haynes and The Athletic that Lillard respects Kidd’s basketball knowledge, his NBA head coaching experience (Nets, Bucks) and his history as a fellow point guard from Oakland.

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