The Portland Trail Blazers are making a coaching change, with Terry Stotts out the door and Damian Lillard preferring Jason Kidd or Chauncey Billups. While Lillard respects Stotts and has spoken kindly of him, there were issues this season that cost the coach his job.
The defense was a massive problem, and Stotts struggled with rotations and reaching his players, according to The Athletic’s Jason Quick and Shams Charania. There were also concerns about his ability to make in-game adjustments.
The Athletic even dropped a specific anecdote from a game against the Los Angeles Clippers as an example:
According to two sources, Lillard was taunted throughout the game by a Clippers player, who mocked that the Blazers didn’t have a coach who could adjust to the Clippers’ trapping defense on Lillard. The Blazers were stifled 133-116 in that game while Lillard was held to 11 points on 2-of-14 shooting.
First off, would really love to know which Clippers player did this. Second, as much as Lillard respects Stotts, this incident surely didn’t sit too well with him (Dame has also had beef with the Clippers in the past). The Blazers star did drop hints about a potential coaching change during the regular season, and all the reporting out there suggested Stotts was a goner unless Portland made a deep playoff run. The Blazers lost in the first round against the Denver Nuggets, and now Stotts is indeed out.
There are plenty of rumors swirling around Lillard and the Blazers right now. Teams are monitoring for a potential trade request, but it looks like Lillard will see what Portland does this offseason before making a final decision. He surely wants them to listen to him on his coaching opinion, and then there are potential moves to upgrade the roster.
Lillard is sick of early playoff exits and doesn’t want to be in a situation where he’s getting mocked by opposing players, so he wants meaningful change. We’ll see if it comes.