Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers are currently in a tough spot as they will have to grind it out just to secure a playoff seat for the 2020-21 season. Finding themselves in the same situation from a season ago in the Orlando bubble, head coach Terry Stotts may eventually be sacked if he can’t pull off a miracle to salvage the Trail Blazers’ campaign for good.
Via Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic:
“If Stotts can’t “pull a rabbit out of his hat” with a playoff miracle of sorts, as one source put it, the Blazers are expected to opt for a new coaching voice. And the Damian Lillard timeline, it seems, is playing a big part here.”
The six-time All-Star will be a huge part of the equation as he has three years left on his current contract which will run through the 2024-25 season. The clock is definitely ticking for the Trail Blazers as they need to maximize Lillard’s talent while he is still in his prime years.
“His loyalty to Portland has been well-chronicled, but there’s a strong sense that a new coach may be needed to make the most of these next few seasons. Stotts, who sources say has less player support now than he did in years past, has one season left (upwards of $6 million).”
Stotts has been at the helm since the 2012-13 season and has already led the team to seven consecutive postseason appearances. However, the organization didn’t get anything out of their multiple playoff stints as the team often settled for early exits excluding their 2018-19 campaign where they successfully reached the Western Conference Finals.
Amid the high expectations, a greater level of success will definitely be expected out of Stotts’ leadership, especially with a talent like Lillard at his disposal. As of the moment, the Trail Blazers are sitting at the seventh spot of the Western Conference with a 36-29 record.
They are still in danger of participating in the play-in tournament where they would have to possibly face the Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, and the San Antonio Spurs for a seat in the playoffs.
According to The Athletic, potential candidates for the job include Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd, Atlanta Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan, and Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Dave Joerger, among others.
The coming games are definitely must-wins not only for Terry Stotts but also for the rest of the Trail Blazers as they aim to overcome the hump and finally achieve significant success in the postseason this time around.