Blazers GM Neil Olshey introduces coach Terry Stotts at the Rose Garden on Wednesday.
Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey introduced new coach Terry Stotts to the media at a press conference at the Rose Garden on Wednesday. Later Wednesday or Thursday, a separate post will go up with a transcript of Stotts' post-press conference comments.
(If you only want to know about what they had to say regarding Nicolas Batum's brutal crotch punch of Juan Carlos Navarro, Stotts' thoughts are here while Olshey's thoughts are here and also included below.)
Here's a full transcript of the press conference. Questions are bolded and paraphased; answers are word for word and blockquoted. Each question leads with the name of the person to whom it was directed.
Neil Olshey opening comments
Today is the culmination of a long and extensive coaching search. It was an enjoyable process, met a lot of really good prospects, we learned a lot about our team during the process. Started in Summer League, we interviewed 10 candidates there, narrowed it down to four, then two met with Paul [Allen] on Friday in London. After finishing up some due diligence, reference checks, background checks, we made our coaching decision.
We're absolutely confident that we found the right guy. Terry meets all the criteria we had set in place and established prior to the search. We're really excited that he's going to be the next coach of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Terry Stotts opening comments
I just want to state before we get to questions that I would like to thank Mr. Allen, Bert Kolde and Neil in their confidence in me. I can't tell you how excited I am to be a part of a franchise like the Portland Trail Blazers. It has a great history, a great championships culture, it's a very proud franchise. I love the city, I was in Seattle for six years, I love the Northwest, and I couldn't be more excited to be the head coach. With that, I'm open for questions.
Terry Stotts -- What did you learn from previous head coaching experiences?
We had some successes, but the one thing was to keep coaching. When our teams are below .500, there were challenges there. One thing a coach always told me was keep coaching them. That was probably the main thing in Atlanta and Milwaukee -- even though things might not be going the way they are going, you have to keep coaching the players. With a roster like Portland -- that's going to come in handy with a young roster. It's a long season and lots of ups and downs and staying positive and keep working.
Terry Stotts -- Why do you deserve another chance at a head coaching job after those stints?
I know a lot of good coaches that don't have good records. I think you look at both of those situations for what they were. I'm actually proud of what we did in those places. The record is below .500 -- I understand that, it's about winning games. We made the playoffs in Milwaukee, improved 10 games. Each situation is a little bit different. I think you grow as a coach.
George Karl, who I was with for over 10 years in the NBA, he didn't have a winning record after four years and he's going to be a Hall of Fame coach. You've got to keep learning, keep improving. If you do that, good things are going to happen.
Terry Stotts -- Thoughts on offensive approach with this team?
I've looked at the roster and there are a lot of positives from an offensive standpoint. LaMarcus Aldridge is a stud. He's an All-Star performer. Hopefully I'll be able to use him in a lot of similar ways that we used Dirk Nowitzki. Damian Lillard had a terrific Summer League. He's going to give the Blazers a pick-and-roll game they haven't had in recent years. Three-point shooting, I'm a big believer in three-point shooting, to space the court. Between Nic [Batum], Wes [Matthews] and Luke [Babbitt], the young players improving their three-point shooting, I'm excited about that. I do want to play at a pace.
I'm a big believer in trusting the pass, I want to push it up -- not for crazy shots -- but I want to push it up, if we've got a good one, take it. If not, move the ball around. Part of my offensive philosophy and we did this with Dallas when we won the championship is trusting the players to make good decisions. Giving them a freedom to play within a structure and to make basketball plays. I think the league is going more towards being basketball players making basketball plays and to do that the coaches have to give up the reins a little bit to give them the freedom. On the other end, you expect the defense.
Terry Stotts -- Explain "trust the pass" philosophy
Coaches have been talking about that for years. There's a lot of one-on-one basketball. Every player has a supreme confidence in their abilities to make plays. Having the willingness to make the next pass when I might have this shot but that guy has that shot. I might even be a better shooter than that guy, but you've got to trust him to make that play. Not over-dribbling, dribbling slows everything down. It becomes a feel, it becomes contagious. I was really proud of our team that won the championship, I thought it was one of the better exhibitions of passing throughout the playoffs...
... I loved the way the Portland Trail Blazers won their championship. Matter fact, I texted coach [Jack] Ramsay after we won the championship because the way we played was similar to that. That's my ideal, it takes a lot of time and trust to do that. It's something that's contagious. Once you start playing like that, you don't want to play any other away.
Terry Stotts -- Rebuilding job? When to think about playoffs?
I don't think there's a team in the NBA that's not thinking playoffs at the start of the season. The players on the roster want to make the playoffs and I want to make the playoffs. That's the goal going into it. How the season unfolds, that's why you play the games. The young talent is there. It's incumbent on them and the coaching staff to make that talent better. They have to get better.
Even the older players -- Nic Batum is 23 years old and LaMarcus Aldridge is 27 years old. It's a young roster that needs to improve. When there is that improvement individually the team gets better and you'll see the progress. As a coach, I'm more interested in the process of becoming a better team and becoming better basketball players and then the results, wins, playoffs, take care of themselves.
Neil Olshey -- What put Terry Stotts over the top?
It was the complete package. Not unlike player evaluations, you've got a loop. There's different criteria for each segment of that loop. When you close it, you know you've got the right answer. It's a process we follow in the draft, free agency or any player acquisition model. We started with a very informal interview in Las Vegas. We got much more substantive here. Multiple hours in the conference room going over philosophies, we went out on the court and walked through things on the floor, we followed that up with reference checks and background, every single person said the same thing.
I spoke with every GM that Terry has worked for. I've talked to all the head coaches he's worked for. I talked to everyone from Hall of Fame players like Dirk Nowitzki to role guys like Brian Cardinal. I spoke with guys from the Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks -- everybody said that Terry has a plan, he understands process, he has a long-term outlook for the franchise, he makes guys better, he's easy to work with in terms of relating to the players. That's going to be important because we've got a new roster. All those things along with the pedigree, the last five years, working with Rick Carlisle.
Everybody gets better. I'm going to be a better GM five years from now than I am today. Terry, even though he had two head coaching stints, would probably admit he's a better coach today after working with Rick and in a system like Dwane Casey's. Winning a championship just instills a supreme confidence, I'm sure, in Terry that he can get it done with us. That was kind of the complete package we were looking for.
He walked out of the room and it was a little like the draft. We have a pretty diverse staff -- Chad [Buchanan], Mike [Born], Joe Cronin and Bill Branch and [Steve] Rosey [Rosenberry], and everybody at some point in the process interviewed Terry. Just like we did with the draft, we came from so many different angles. When everybody hones in on the same guy as the right candidate, you know you are on to something. That was confirmed with Bert and Sarah [Mensah] who met with Terry, Mr. Allen did, it ended up becoming that this became a no-brainer once we did our due diligence.
Terry Stotts -- Thoughts on working for a GM with a coaching background
It's a great asset to have a GM that's been in the trenches. When you're there, going through the 82 game season, the highs and lows, he knows what we're going through. To be able to empathize with that, to be a sounding board, to trust his opinion on whether it's a player issue or an X-and-O issue, he's been there. I think that will complement each other very well.
Terry Stotts -- Plans for [former interim coach and head coach finalist] Kaleb Canales?
I'm glad Kaleb is on the staff. I've known Kaleb for a long time. I just came from Las Vegas from a camp down there, he's worked that camp, I've worked that camp, I've known him a long time. I've had a lot of respect for him, his work ethic, he's a sharp young man. As a matter of fact, when we interviewed in London, we were coming back on the same flight. As we were boarding, I said, "If you get it that's great. If I get it, I hope you consider being on my staff." Because I thought that much of him.
Terry Stotts -- Your personality fits with young team?
People say I'm easy-going, even-keeled, but I have my moments. Nobody necessarily sees them but I have my moments. You have to be patient. I keep referring to an 82-game season. You have to see the big picture. You have to micro-manage certain things so they don't get out of control, you have to give them the freedom and macro-manage. It's certainly different coaching a young roster, the expectations and the way you approach your style with a younger compared to an older team. Shoot, we were ancient last year in Dallas. We won't coach it the same way.
The one thing about young players, they want to get better. They have goals, they have aspirations and they are hungry. You want that hunger to be there and drive to be there. They want to play. Harness that and hopefully it works out.
Terry Stotts -- Your conversation with Kaleb after you were hired?
Since we knew it was a possibility that he was going to be on the staff, you should talk to Kaleb but it was very -- I think he's excited about being here. He's been here nine years. He's a part of the fabric of the franchise right now. I read one of his quotes during the process that he's "always been a Trail Blazer." That's what he is. I think he's really pleased to be here, I'm ecstatic to have him on my staff. We haven't talked about responsibilities or anything like that but I know since he has such good relationships with the players, that's an asset that's invaluable.
Terry Stotts -- Plans for other assistant coaches?
I'm not going to comment on how I'm going to fill out my staff. I've talked to some people. We've asked permission to talk to other coaches on other staffs. There's not really a timeline as to when this needs to get done. That's my next order of business.
Terry Stotts -- What this opportunity means for you at this point in your career?
NBA basketball is funny, you never know how it's going to pan out. I'm very fortunate. I've said that to a few people that I've texted with. I've been very fortunate in my career to do a lot of things. Winning a championship was one of the highlights but to get this opportunity, someone mentioned about my two other stops -- you don't know if you're going to get another opportunity. To get an opportunity to work with someone like Neil, to have an owner like Mr. Allen, in a city like this that loves its basketball, you don't know if it's going to happen and you feel humbled and very appreciative of the opportunity.
Terry Stotts -- You've gotten credit for offensive system in Dallas
Let me interrupt you, you've got to give Dirk a lot of credit for that. Then we can go. Dirk, and Jason [Kidd], and Jason [Terry], and I'm kind of down here.
Terry Stotts -- What's the source for your offensive philosophy?
My fundamental belief is that you have to give the players the freedom to play offensively but you've got to give them some structure so they aren't just out there willy-nilly. To develop a sense of team, a sense of teamwork, it's a process, it doesn't happen overnight. When you have a Hall of Fame point guard like Jason Kidd, it makes that process a lot easier. I go back to my years with George, his offensive philosophy was pretty open. And we opened up in Dallas. We talk a lot about offense and the goal is to put the ball in the basket, I don't wan to under-sell the defense.
You talked about my previous stops and everything, but being with Rick Carlisle the last four years, I've evolved as a coach. What we did defensively and the way we improved defensively every year in Dallas helped us win a championship. Yes, I want to run, I want to shoot threes, if we can score 100 points every night, that's great. To be successful you have to do it at both ends of the floor. I'm proud of what I can do offensively and how I can help this team offensively, make no mistake, I'm going to make sure the players now that defense is going to be a priority.
Terry Stotts -- How good can this team be?
What do you mean? How many wins? I think they're going to be good. I think they're going to play an exciting brand of basketball, the young players are going to improve. I think we're going to be better in April than we are in November. That's how good we're going to be, that's going to be the measuring stick. There's not a player on this roster that's not going to try to make the playoffs this year. Expectations this or that. That's going to be the goal. My concern with this team, especially with the young players, is getting them better every day, every month and going from there.
Terry Stotts -- Experience interviewing with owner Paul Allen in London
It was certainly a short visit in London. I got there, went straight to the hotel, changed, went to the interview. The interview was very direct. We talked about the roster, we talked about the direction of the franchise, we talked about expectations of me and what I expected of the team, offensive philosophy, defensive philosophy. It was very direct. You walk out of it hoping that you did well, like anybody who has been in an interview. You go in hoping you did well and not really sure. It was a great experience. If I hadn't gotten the job, it was a great story and a great experience I'll never regret.
Not many people get to go to London for a day and hang out. It was quick. The only time I had, I went to a pub for a couple of hours and that was about it.
Neil Olshey -- Was keeping Kaleb Canales a pre-condition for hiring Terry?
All the media reports are accurate, aren't they? I think Terry has already addressed it. Clearly you don't hire a head coach with a prerequisite with anything other than the fact that he's the right guy for the job. Terry had brought up Kaleb as a possible member of the staff way back in July when we had 10 guys interviewing for the job and it was still informal. He had brought up the idea of that, knowing how Kaleb relates to the players, his work ethic. We've all known each other almost the same amount of time.
It was absolutely not a prerequisite for Terry being hired. They had conversations long before anybody know who the finalists were going to be. When you put together a staff as Terry is going to start to do, you're adding certain skills and clearly Kaleb brings skills to the table that a young roster needs.
Neil Olshey -- Did you see what happened with Nicolas this morning? An international incident so to speak?
Did he blow up a building? I didn't know it was an international incident. Terry and I were working camp, at [Tim Grgurich's] camp. I was able to watch part of the first half. I don't think Terry's seen it. We were at [Grgurich's] camp working and then we were on a plane out here. I saw some of the Twitter reports and I saw Nic's comments and that was about it.
Neil Olshey -- Embarrassing to the franchise?
I haven't seen it. I don't know what happened.
Neil Olshey -- Can you address expectations for Terry and this team?
The expectations is that we get better every day. I don't know anybody right now with the number of variables we have with hte youth of the roster and so little data to go on, other than basically Wes, Nic and L.A. and a certain extent J.J. [Hickson] I think it's hard to quantify in terms of wins and losses and it's also hard to quantify what the basement and ceiling is for a roster like this of young guys. The goal is that it's going to be a process.
One of the things that's intriguing about Terry is that everything is done with a plan. We're going to walk into the gym with a plan on Day One. I know job one of that plan is that every single day guys are going to get better. They're going to get better individually and as a unit. I think if we're a better team and each individual has improved exponentially by the time the season is over, then the season is going to be a success.
Terry Stotts -- Why major in zoology?
I was a pre-dental major. If you're a pre-dental curriculum, it's either zoology, botany, chemistry or physics. I took the animals.
Terry Stotts -- Did you have a chance to be a Rhodes Scholar?
No. That never came up. Sounds good though.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter