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Transcript: Blazers Coach Terry Stotts Takes Questions After Introductory Press Conference

Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts took questions for nearly 20 minutes after his introductory press conference with Blazers GM Neil Olshey on Wednesday. Here's a link to the transcript of the introductory press conference. Here's a link to a snippet from Stotts about his biggest regret: a 2004 double-overtime loss.

The following is a transcript of his post-press conference question-and-answer session with reporters. Questions are bolded and paraphrased; answers are blockquoted and word-for-word.


My parents being teachers, education was important. My dad was a high school basketball coach and that influenced me as much as anything in my life. I went to practices when I was five and six years old, basketball has always been a strong part of my life.

Where did you live as a child?

Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois. We moved to Guam. My father coached at the University of Guam.

Why do you think you got this job?

I don't know. That's probably more of a question for Neil. You go into every interview, with Mr. [Paul] Allen, there were 10 candidates going into Las Vegas. I didn't know. I felt comfortable, I knew I was in a good situation in Dallas. Dallas is going to have a very good team this year, they reconstructed the roster. They have good flexibility, it's a good situation.

I may have gone into it with the confidence of knowing that I was a better coach than I was five years ago because of my experience in Dallas. Knowing that if I didn't get it, I would be in a good situation. I had a calm. I don't know. I do know that I'm very confident in what I can do. You have those doubts when you don't have a winning record but I think the last four years really helps solidify the confidence in myself.

Frustrated that people just associate you with the four losing seasons as a head coach?

I was with Geoge [Karl] for so long. I always pointed at -- George and I almost had the same record after four seasons in the NBA. He's a Hall of Fame guy. Chuck Daly struggled in his first stop. You know that those opportunities may be out there but you don't know. The best thing you can do is keep working. I'm fortunate.

The one thing I've done: at some point I turn those Atlanta and Milwaukee experiences as positives for me, using them as learning experiences. The fact that Neil was able to talk to some of my players at both those stops, they appreciated what I was able to do as a coach, that made me feel good and feel like we're doing something right.

Is there any uneasiness knowing that [former interim coach and head coach finalist] Kaleb Canales is a favored son and he's sitting there on your bench?

No. I think it's about relationships. Kaleb wants to win games and he loves working with the players and making them better. When you can add a talent like that to your staff, you can't worry about that. Kaleb is as loyal as they come. I've known him for awhile. I'm sure it might come up, people would speculate about it, but I don't harbor any of those concerns.

What were some of the key differences between the losing environments earlier in your career and the winning environment in Dallas?

Two of the greatest winners that I've been around are Gary Payton in Seattle and Jason Kidd in Dallas. You see a quality in those type of players that just have a knack -- when it comes time to win games, you feel it. The NBA is a players' league. If you can get those special kind of guys, a Gary Payton or Jason Kidd or Dirk Nowitzki, that improves your chances.

At one point those guys were young players and needed to get to that level. That's the challenge for me here. Hopefully somebody on this roster is one of those guys. It's up to me to mine that from them.

Elaborate on the development of your defensive philosophy under Rick Carlisle in Dallas

If you look at Rick's track record defensively, I think he's been a head coach in the league eight years and his teams have been in the top-10 five or six times, which is remarkable. He micro-manages the defense, to hold people accountable, have a system and hold them accountable to the system. You get to the point where they hold each other accountable and the expectations among themselves become a priority. When you get to that point, you know you're going in the right direction.

Rose Garden crowd

The games that we played during our playoff run, those games here in Portland were as wild as any place. We played in the other buildings but those games in Portland, it was rabid. You knew you were in for a fight. One of the things about the passion of the fans here, the fans of Portland are as good as any in the league. When you have that, players sense it, coaches sense it, and the opponents sense it. It's going to be a part of the fabric of what we want to do.

Identity on offense and defense

The identity of this roster should be to compete and play hard. Defensively, to have an attitude and a commitment and an effort towards playing defense. Keeping it simple: defensively those three things and offensively trust the pass, move the ball and be ready to make plays. At the core, that's the simplified version. To me, the identity of this team is that everyone knows, including the fans, that they are going to compete hard every night.

If you're getting into X-and-Os and strategies and gameplans, being able to make adjustments, but if you ask what the identity is, it's about competing.

Worried you wouldn't get another chance at head coach?

I don't know if worried is the right word. You come to a point -- I was in a very good situation. In the NBA, it's hard to draw a road map for your career. You don't know what's going to happen. I'm extremely fortunate to be in this situation but certainly I didn't know if I was going to get another chance or not but I'm humbled and grateful that I did.

Portland fans are best in the league?

You want the fans to care. You want the media, you want that attention, because it matters. Playing in that environment can be tough sometimes when things aren't going well but you wouldn't have it any other way. When things are going, there's nothing better.

LaMarcus Aldridge

He's a stud. He carries the franchise, he's going to have more responsibility with the roster change. He's going to not only have responsibility on the floor but leadership responsibility. LaMarcus is as good as they come as far as quality of a person and character. He's going to rise to that challenge. I've always thought that NBA franchises and teams take on the personality of their best player. Much like Dirk, I think LaMarcus is ready at this stage of his career to take that mantle and take the challenge.

Any regrets as a head coach?

In a game against Memphis, I wish we had purposefully missed a free throw.

What was the time/score?

Travis Hansen had a free throw [at the end of the first overtime]. If he had missed, [time would have run out]. He made it, and James Posey made a 40-footer to tie the game and we lost in double overtime. Now I know.

OK, other than that, no regrets?

Like everybody, I think most people, if you have a conversation with somebody, and go home and wonder about that conversation, with your interactions with players, you give a lot of thought to if the player is struggling or had an incident or how you're going to handle that conversation, and then you go back and replay the conversation in your mind. I think it's important in any profession that you're always looking for ways to get better and you analyze what you did and what you would change going forward.

Whether it's inter-personal relationships with the players, the X-and-Os on the court, or whatever it is, I think it's incumbent on a coach to not be satisfied and think, "I'm right," and not look back. You have to learn from your victories and your failures.

I don't want to harp on this but Nicolas Batum intentionally punched an opponent in the groin. Most coaches wouldn't condone that. Where do you come down on that?

I haven't seen the incident. I do know that things happen in the heat of battle that people regret. I haven't seen it. There have been things in the past that have happened that were regrettable and players are not happy with it, they feel bad, they regret it and you move on. I don't think one incident is going to define a person. Nic is a good young player. We want him to get better and move on from there.

Is this something that you would address with him?

I'm sure I'll talk to him about it. It's going to be hard not to talk about. We'll see how it goes. From my understanding, he's already apologized for it. He apologized and you move on. I'm sure it might come up once or twice, we'll see.

Timetable for putting together coaching staff?

No, not really. Kaleb is on the staff. I've talked to some other people, we're waiting to get permission to talk to coaches that are on staff. I've gotten numerous texts from people who are interested in being on the staff. There's no timeline. August is a slow time anyway. We want to hit the floor running on Labor Day with the players coming back. But there's not a specific timeline, no.

Would Kaleb Canales be a lead assistant?

Once the staff is put together, responsibilities and what's expected of each guy -- I like my coaches to coach. There might be a little bit of a division of labor but I want all my coaches to coach the players, to prepare for games, I want them to do everything that a coach should do. Once all the pieces are in place then we'll be able to go through that.

Does starting a rookie at point guard require extra attention or a specific coach to help with that?

I don't know. I think you want coaches that can coach. I think Kaleb is great working with players on the court. All my coaches will be able to help players improve. Damian specifically, he's a talented young player. You work with players, and you watch film with players and you do everything you need to do to make players better. The best way to get players better in this league is to be out there playing and learning the game. Going against Jason Kidd one night, going against Steve Nash the next night, going against whomever the next night. That's how you get better. The learning curve, because you're on the court and playing, the curve is a lot steeper.

I don't know Damian but I think he wants to be a great player. Great players -- he's going to get up for every game. He's going to learn from each, good and bad, of what he can do better. It's a long season, there are going to be growing pains. I've got to coach him through them. When you start with the talent and you have the right demeanor and attitude going forward, it makes it that much easier going forward.

Will you meet with LaMarcus Aldridge?

We're going to meet with him in Friday down in L.A. It's going to be a lot of what I've said here. I have a lot of respect for him. I spoke with him on the phone already. I have a lot of respect for him as a player, it's his team. He'll be looked at for leadership. He has the respect of his teammates and when you have that respect from your teammates, leadership is that much easier. There's going to be a lot on his shoulders this year. He's the guy who things are going to revolve around.

You speak four languages?

I speak French, but I played in Italy and learned Italian and then I went to Spain and lost my Italian. I moved to Frane then I lost my Spanish. French, I'm alright in French. My wife and I went to Italy this summer and I had 'grazie' and 'prego' and that's it.

LaMarcus Aldridge's game-winner in Dallas last season

As part of the interview process, I watched that game again. He hit a tough shot. Great players sometimes they do things that the opponents just shake their head. Dirk had a lot of opponents shaking their heads and that was one where we played good defense, he let it go, and that's what he does. That's why he's the player that he is.

Does it bother you when fans don't know who you are?

I'm used to that. I'm not a high-profile guy. Whether the fans know me or don't know me, I do know that my peers know me. The fact that I got this job -- people know me in basketball. That's probably the most important thing to me, that I have the respect of my peers in the basketball community.

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter