Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts joined Blazers Courtside with hosts Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey on Monday night to discuss the Finals, which players are in town for offseason workouts and the upcoming Draft.
Here's a transcript. Questions are paraphrased and answers are word-for-word.
Blowout nature of Spurs beating Heat in Finals
I think it was unexpected, but San Antonio showed they were clearly the best team. They did it throughout the regular season and playoffs. The way they did it -- I thought it was good for basketball.
Do you take some consolation from Spurs play after they eliminated Blazers in five games?
You take some consolation in that. We struggled in the series obviously. Bottom line we lost 4-1, Miami lost 4-1. The Spurs were on a roll. They played great team basketball. They had multiple guys step up. From our perspective, it does give us some consolation that Oklahoma City and Miami had a difficult time as well.
Spurs winning title
I thought it was a really good win for basketball. When you read people's comments about it -- it was team basketball. They shared the ball on the offensive end, they played together defensively. They set all kinds of offensive records without guys having big scoring averages. I think it was the first time in the shot clock era that someone won a championship without a player averaging 17 or 18 points, or something like that. It was amazing team basketball, it was very fun to watch, it was good for basketball fans to see that, for kids watching it, to see how the game can be played.
Can Spurs style be emulated or duplicated?
This has been years in the making. Last year's defeat played a part of it. When you have some aging Hall of Fame players who are willing to give in, and you bring in guys who are at the stage of their careers where, as [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] said, they've gotten over themselves. It's about winning. It was very unique and very special, as far as the team dynamics, that allowed them to play that way. It showed the basketball world how the game can be played. If winning is the priority, winning as a team is the best way to do it.
Is the NBA still a player's league?
In some ways that's a little bit overstated. Every coach is going to coach his own way. Pop yells at them but he treats them as men. Young players learn what's important to play in that system. The old guys teach the young guys coming in. Pop has the ultimate say of what's going on, and he has the respect of the players. Look, our guys like to be coached, you have to treat them like men, respect them, it's how you go about correcting things, having them respect how you go about it.
Spurs finding the line between bringing a player into family atmosphere and letting him know coach is still in charge
It's such a unique situation and he's been there for 18 years. It doesn't happen overnight. When you have a foundation with David Robinson, and then bring in a guy like Tim Duncan, and you're able to set a foundation, and that type of character of people, you're able to cultivate it. It doesn't just happen. Everyone sees the end result, it was years in the making.
Continuity for Blazers in 2013-14
It was really important for us. I went to San Antonio's training camp in 2007, the year after they won the training camp. Their training camp -- Pop didn't even say a word the first practice, it just clicked. Things were going, they were making reads, they picked up where they left off.
Obviously we didn't come back like that. There was the familiarity between me and my coaching staff, because I hadn't worked with any of my coaches [in 2013], and [assistant coach] Kaleb [Canales] had been the only guy coming back to the team that the players were used to. You come back the next year, the coaches know what we want to do, what we want to tinker with, how we're going to make improvements. We were so far ahead with the offense, we started with the basics and built from that. The continuity makes it easy for the players and coaches to kickstart at the beginning of training camp.
Players already working out right now?
They are there. Last year, we did the same thing. A lot of the young guys came in in June. It helped with their development and Summer League. CJ [McCollum], Allen [Crabbe], Will [Barton], Meyers [Leonard], Joel [Freeland], [Thomas Robinson], and we bring in some other guys so we can go 5-on-5 full-court. We incorporate individual work, two-on-two, three-on-three, offense and defense, fundamentals, we did it last week, this week and next week. They'll take a break and then we hit Summer League.
I think it's invaluable. Getting out there and feeling the improvement. We need some of these guys, if not all of them, we need somebody to come in and make a difference next year, hopefully it's some of these guys.
What can you as coaches do during the offseason?
We're allowed to do anything up to 3-on-3. We can coach and do anything that's 3-on-3. Once it's 4-on-4 or 5-on-5 we have to step off and let them play. In these workouts, we try to do individual work, one-on-one, two-on-two, talk about schemes defensively and do that in 3-on-3. Try to incorporate it so that they use it when they go to 4-on-4.
Meyers Leonard -- I see a bright future
I do too. What's disappointing for me, we won 54 games, by all accounts it was a terrific season. If you want to focus on Meyers not playing, it's taking a myopic look on this past season. Joel Freeland beat him out. It was much more about what Joel did do than what Meyers didn't do. He's a talented big man. It's a catch-22. He hasn't played against top competition and he didn't get that opportunity because we were in a winning mode last season, he was't given the opportunity to develop, play through mistakes, that a lot of young big guys get in that situation.
Unusual Draft season with no picks
It is. It's really difficult for [Blazers GM] Neil [Olshey] and his staff, when you prepare for a draft, and know what picks you have, you put your board up and lock in. Now, you have to be extremely prepared for one through 60. If we are able to jump into the draft -- and I don't know if we will or not -- you have to be prepared in the event that something comes up, you have to be prepared to make a pick one through 60. It's a challenge. Neil has shown what a gifted talent evaluator he is. He's willing and prepared to make moves for the franchise. It's going to be an interesting time, I don't know what's going to happen on draft day, but it's going to be an interesting day.
In all fairness, we had a very young team. We had eight players in their first and second year. The fact that we don't have any draft picks -- our picks are here working out right now. They have to improve and they are our young talent moving forward.
Too much emphasis on pre-Draft workouts?
I can't comment on the process. Every team has a scouting staff. They work all year in evaluating these players, they go to the college games, do the backgrounds, watch a ton of video. Leading into June, they've done 90-95 percent of the work. They know these guys.
To have players come in, it's valuable to take them out to dinner, meet them, get to know them talk to them, I think it's extremely valuable to get to know the kid, and get an idea of who he is. A 45-minute workout, I don't think it changes the opinion of what you've worked a year or two in evaluating that player.
Rapping for Damian Lillard's 4-bar Friday
We did it in two takes. That was the second take. Our assistant video coordinator John Ross, who was doing all the hashtags, he wrote that in about five minutes on the way down. We stopped, found a place to do it, it happened to be Friday, it was awesome. Dog Mountain, it was a beautiful day, worked up a nice sweat, the flowers were out, it was beautiful.
[Damian Lillard] retweeted it. I didn't get anything personal. But he did retweet it.
It was a one hour, 45 minute climb. ... We did it on Friday, my legs were killing me on Saturday and Sunday. We got back to the office on Monday and thankfully all those young guys were hurting too.
Taking with Neil about the Draft
We talk about our roster and what we need going forward. Whether it happens on Draft day, we haven't spoken about any specific scenarios for Draft day, it's too early for that, a lot of those things pop up. We talk about the future, the direction of the team, what we need going forward. Mo Williams can opt out of his contract, Earl Watson is going to be a free agent, those are the two roster spots that we have, we don't know what's going to happen with either one of them. This is Neil's team. I'm glad we have a guy like Neil who knows his way around the league, he evaluates talent, looks at different angles, it's going to be an exciting time.
Our improvement has to come at the defensive end. We managed to do a good job on offense. I know everyone criticized and critiqued our bench performance, I'm looking at the team. We were in the top five on offense and 16th on defense. We were almost there and it got us to the second round. We need to bump that up. I'd like to be in the top 10 on both offense and defense. That puts you in championship mode.
I will look at our consistency. How we can get better defensively, transition defense, our pick-and-roll defense was solid, I think we'll be more alert on the weakside. We were low on forcing turnovers, we'll force more turnovers by being more alert on the weakside and by being in better help position. Rather than trying to steal the ball, intercepting passes and gambling. Our fundamental structure of what we implemented last year was good, we just have to improve on it this year.
Gary Payton mentoring Damian Lillard
You really can't compare the two. Gary was 6-foot-5 or 6-foot-6, he made his mark as a defensive player, and grew into an offensive player. He's a Hall of Fame player. He knows the game and he's been around a long time. The advice he's giving is good advice, but to make a comparison -- other than the fact they are from Oakland -- is unfair to both of them.
Payton says defense is a mindset
The best defenders in the league are in tune every possession. In the old days when you could isolate players, one-on-one defense became more of a premium. Now the NBA has evolved into movement, passing, your team defense has become more of a priority because you're not just shutting down one guy. Everybody has to be involved, getting back, limiting penetration, limiting easy baskets. It's certainly a mentality, being in tune, not thinking about the last shot that you just missed.
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