Stotts will stay -- Trail Blazers extend coach's contract
The Trail Blazers' season has ended, but it signals a new beginning for Terry Stotts.
Neil Olshey, Portland's president and general manager, announced Tuesday that Stotts has been signed to a multiyear contract extension.
Stotts, who coached the Blazers to the Western Conference finals in his sixth year at the helm, has a year remaining on an extension he signed before the 2016-17 season, which called for him to make about $5 million per season.
Terms for Stotts' most recent extension weren't announced, but it's likely he commanded a raise after guiding Portland to a 53-29 record and the No. 3 seed in the West, then winning playoff series against Oklahoma City and Denver before being swept by two-time NBA defending champion Golden State in the conference finals.
"I'm pleased with the season," Stotts said. "I'm pleased we came to an agreement. I'm very happy here. I'm happy with the team.
"It was probably the most enjoyable year I've had as a head coach as far as the group of guys we had. We've gone through peaks and valleys over my tenure. This is another peak. I couldn't be more happy things have turned out the way we have."
Stotts, 61, had been a head coach twice before arriving in Portland in 2012, with poor results. His regular-season record was 52-85 during two seasons in Atlanta (2002-04) and 63-83 during two seasons in MIlwaukee (2005-07). Stotts made the playoffs only once during those four years, going 1-4 with the Bucks in 2006.
After four years as an assistant coach in Dallas (2008-12) — where he helped coach the Mavericks to the NBA title in 2011 — Olshey hired Stotts as one of his first orders of business in Portland.
The Blazers have gone 325-249 during the regular season in Stotts' seven years, with the only losing season the first one (33-49 in 2012-13). They have made the playoffs in each of the past six seasons. Stotts' Portland teams have gone only 19-32 in the postseason.
"I never thought I was going to get another opportunity" as a head coach, Stotts said. "Neil plucked me out and gave me the opportunity. To be here seven years later is remarkable. I have a lot of gratitude for everyone who has helped make that possible."
Stotts was an assistant coach under George Karl for six years in Seattle and four years in Milwaukee. He was then an assistant for four years under Rick Carlisle in Dallas.
"I considered (six years in Seattle) a lifetime," Stotts said. "Milwaukee and Dallas — those were good runs. To have this kind of longevity with one franchise (in Portland) is something I could never have imagined."
Olshey said the Blazers were trying to follow the model of small-market franchises who have had long-range success, such as Utah (with Jerry Sloan) and San Antonio (with Gregg Popovich).
"With the guys who had long runs, you had to build something that took time," Olshey said. "It wasn't a quick fix.
"Terry carries himself now as a coach who is consistently in the playoffs. He doesn't have anything to prove to anybody. Terry is one of the top coaches in the league. You don't let those guys leave. It's hard to find greatness."
Olshey was asked what he has liked about Stotts as a coach.
"We win every year," Olshey said. "But it goes beyond just wins and losses. It's alignment. It's partnership. It's knowing the organization is moving forward. It's a commitment to a longer-term view, that there are priorities beyond just the next game."
Olshey built his roster around young foundational pieces Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and added around them with players near their age. Olshey likes the way Stotts and his assistant coaches have developed the talent.
"We still have one of the youngest rosters in the league," Olshey said. "Every (player) who has come through here has gotten better. At heart, you're hiring a coach to be a teacher.
"As we see the league get younger, there's such a value placed — especially in a market like Portland, where we can't always buy our way out of trouble — on developing our young players and finding reclamation projects and developing them. I don't know that anybody has had as much success as this staff in second-round picks panning out, guys who have flamed out elsewhere becoming contributing and integral players. That consistency is important."
Stotts ranks No. 2 on the franchise coaches list for career regular-season victories, ahead of No. 3 Rick Adelman (291-154) and behind only Jack Ramsay (453-367). Stotts was asked about his place among the best coaches in Blazers' history.
"Doctor Jack is a Hall of Famer," he said. "Rick Adelman will be in the Hall of Fame. I'm not going to touch those two guys. They're two of my idols. I'll never be at that level.
"Those guys did it here and multiple places. I don't even presume to be in that category. There have been a lot of great coaches here, but no one is going to touch Coach Adelman and Coach Ramsay. That's just a fact."