Dave,Terry Stotts, really??? Why?!? Especially when Kaleb Canales was sitting right there! They say Canales will stay with the team "in some capacity" but how is he supposed to take this?
OK, rein in a little there, cowpoke. No need to run over a cliff when the wagon train is still moving along, albeit slowly.
Terry Stotts is not the most sexy of candidates for the Blazers head coaching job. But then again, none of the four finalists were that sexy. I mean, Kaleb is cute in a nice guy kind of way--the kind of guy you'd marry and take home to mama--but the Blazers weren't looking to settle down forever yet. They're still growing. They've got to find themselves. Who knows where they'll be in three years? They weren't in a position to find Mr. Right so they're going with Mr. Right Now, leasing Stotts with an option to buy.
Since no ultra-sexy coaches get ultra-sexy by signing on to coach rosters like the current Portland squad, you were always going to end up feeling like this. Correction...you're leaning towards Canales so he would have made you, in particular, feel better. But with the four finalists the Blazers lined up and their lack of Jackson-Riley name power, I was fated to be answering a question like this from someone tonight.
People want to point to Stotts as twice-divorced with little to show for his tours of duty. There's some truth to that. He's never posted a winning record in four seasons. The closest he came was his 2005-06 campaign with Milwaukee where he went 40-42, good enough for a playoff berth and a hasty 1-4 exit. His career winning percentage is .406. That's hardly inspiring.
Then again, what did he have to work with? His two years in Atlanta featured Shareef Adbur-Rahim as the main guy bracketed by a rapidly-aging Glenn Robinson, a too-young Jason Terry, and eventually the mercurial Stephen Jackson. Other than that, those rosters were so poor Oliver Twist would have sneered at them. Ira Newble, Dion Glover...even Paul Shirley made an appearance. Still, he got his top 3-4 guys over 15 points per game, near or above 20 for a couple of them.
His two seasons in Milwaukee weren't all that much different. He had Michael Redd scoring out of his mind. After that it was nursing along young draftee Andrew Bogut and relying on guys like Mo Williams, Charlie Villanueva, and Ruben Patterson to carry the load.
He didn't win with these rosters. But then, who would have?
Now Stotts steps into Portland looking at a bona fide star power forward in LaMarcus Aldridge, a rookie combo guard heavy on the scoring, a couple of serviceable guys in Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews, and a roster full of spare parts. Deja vu, anyone?
Stotts' teams have been mediocre or worse in offensive efficiency and point scoring overall. You could say this "offensive-minded coach" has never had a good offense. But you could also say he's never had a complete roster of offensive players to work with. (Nor does he now.) Stotts' defenses, on the other hand, have been uniformly bad. That's both a concern and an explanation why he's never won.
We know that the Blazers are going to lose games, Stotts or no Stotts. If history holds, he won't make much difference in that, at least not in the short term. The hope is that he can clear the way for his top 3-4 players to become bigger stars than they already are. If there were chains on these guys, they'll be lifted. We should see what Aldridge and Batum, Lillard and Matthews really have. Apparently that, plus talent accumulation, comprises the agenda for the next couple years.
Beyond that, both Stotts and the younger players on the roster will have to prove themselves. The clock is running. Time to get started.
As far as Canales, he's not going anywhere for now. More seasoning can't hurt. If he keeps his name in the running with the Blazers he's likely to inherit a better team down the road than he would now...not necessarily a bad thing. One other thing we know about Stotts is that he's not lasted past a season and a half in either of his stops. Apparently people tire of him quickly. Maybe he's fixed that. He should be given the chance to prove it. But it's not like the Blazers just went out and gave Rick Carlisle a 7-year deal. Kaleb's day may yet come.
In the meantime Canales should do what he's best at: helping out in every way possible, being an upstanding and loyal guy, and learning from everyone he works with. As I said once before, he's been promoted now, just not all the way to head coach. At the beginning of last year he was an understudy, memorizing scripts and not even getting on stage. Then the star got axed. Canales got a run in the spotlight, much more than he or anyone expected. Now he has a choice. He can shorten his memory to the last couple months and say, "I am a headliner now and nothing less than the central spot will satisfy me." Or he can take the longer view and say, "I've made the hardest step, actually getting on stage in front of an audience. My name's not on the marquee but I'm getting real parts now. People know me. That's a long way ahead of where I was this time last year and I'm going to keep working to get higher." The longer-term approach is the way to go.
I got my start blogging because I knew Eric Marentette, once upon a time the Blazers blogger at O-Live. He knew my writing from other sources. He had some commitments to attend to and asked me to take over for him for a couple weeks. It was wild and crazy--a far cry from the quality of material I have now--but I did it. Had I come from that experience saying, "Now that I've run a major blog and proven my fitness to do so I will not accept anything less!" then you'd not be reading this. I'd still be sitting on my thumbs waiting for the Boston Herald to call. Instead after my "Big Experience" I started homely little Blazer Thoughts, got invited to take over Blazersedge, and look where we are now. This blog is bigger than anyone ever dreamed and bigger than the one Eric had me take over for. That's more or less the same position Canales is in. He's not in the Captain's chair but with a little more work and the same attitude his talent is going to get noticed. Whatever the position of his team when that happens, chances are it'll be better than Portland's is right now.
Congratulations to, and best wishes for, Coach Stotts. That goes for Coach Canales as well. Here's hoping great things will happen for both of them.