Stotts a lame duck -- but probably not for long
As the Trail Blazers enter the NBA playoffs, Terry Stotts is on a short list of candidates for the leagues coach of the year award.
Stotts is also in a way a lame-duck coach.
The Cedar Falls, Iowa, native is in his fourth season as Portlands head coach. When Stotts was hired by general manager Neil Olshey in August 2012, he signed a two-year contract with a team option. After the Blazers beat Houston and advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2014, Stotts was rewarded with a two-year extension.
So at the end of the playoffs, Olshey will have the option to give Stotts another season, extend his contract or let him go.
Olshey is not tipping his hat about his intentions. When asked Wednesday night if there have been any contract negotiations for Stotts, Olshey replied brusquely, There are no negotiations. We dont talk contracts during a season. Its as simple as that.
Agent Warren LeGarie is in the unusual situation of representing both Olshey and Stotts. LeGarie was responsible for helping Olshey get a promotion to president of basketball operations and a three-year extension that was announced in January 2015 yes, in the middle of a season.
Each situation is unto itself, LeGarie said Wednesday via telephone from Dallas, explaining how it works to represent both a GM and coach. When I was there negotiating for Neil, you negotiate for Neil. With Terry, its for Terry. You dont confuse the two. Thats why its always worked.
Stotts, 58, said he has not dwelt on his contract status.
That happens in basketball, he said. If it bothers you, you shouldnt be in this profession. Youre going to be in that situation at times. The best thing is to not concern yourself, go about your job and do the best you can.
Stotts said he and his wife, Jan, have enjoyed their time in the City of Roses.
I was in Seattle for six years, Stotts said. I was in Milwaukee the first time for four, in Dallas for four. If youre able to spend four years in one place in this league, it means youre doing something well.
My wife and I love it here in Portland. The fan base is great. The organization is great. I couldnt be in a better situation.
Stotts has been embraced his players, including veterans Ed Davis and Chris Kaman, both playing under their sixth NBA coach.
Ive had every personality as a coach you can possibly think of, Davis said. I cant say one bad thing about Coach Stotts, from his coaching style to how he treats people. I always say I want to play hard for him every night. I probably want to play harder for him than I do for myself. Its all respect from here.
An NBA coach cant make 15 guys happy. Its impossible. But everybody respects him. He has a great basketball mind and hes a great person. He comes in every day and talks to everyone, has conversations with strength and conditioning people, security people everybody. The chemistry we have on this team starts with him and his staff.
Kaman has played sparingly in this, his 13th NBA season. He is still one of Stotts biggest supporters.
They should rip up his contract and give him a five-year deal in player terms, a max deal, Kaman said. Thats my guy.
He does a great job, and honestly, who thought wed get 30 wins with this team, let alone 44? Its a testament to what him and his staff are doing, and also to the players. We have a good group of guys. Everybody fits well. Its been a pretty good year for everybody.
Stotts is making $3 million this season, according to LeGarie, which is far lower than the most lucrative coaching contracts in the league. San Antonios Gregg Popovich ($11 million) and the Clippers Doc Rivers ($10 million) are the highest-paid coaches. Other coaches making more than $5 million this season are Dallas Rick Carlisle and Detroits Stan Van Gundy ($7 million) and Oklahoma Citys Billy Donovan ($6 million).
LeGarie sounds as if he will seek a longer extension for Stotts.
You would hope his body of work says it all, LeGarie said. This time, were probably going to take a bit of a stand. You cant keep putting him in (a lame-duck) position. Im hoping (Blazer owner Paul Allen and Olshey) feel the same way.
Im always optimistic. If theyre not interested, there are a lot of teams that will be.