Terry Stotts joined Jim Rome on The Jim Rome Show earlier this week to discuss the Trail Blazers' off-season moves and outlook moving forward, as reported by Casey Holdahl. The full transcript can be found below.
Terry, it's good to have you back on. What's good? How are you?
I'm doing well. How're you doing, Jim?
Good, Terry. It's hard to imagine you're already entering your fourth season in Portland. This is a very different team than the one you've had in the previous seasons. How different, then, does training camp feel right now from the previous three?
Well, it's a lot different than the last two because of so many new faces. We've got, I think, five or six guys from last year's team, whereas last year at this time, we had 13 guys coming back. The other obvious difference is that we're a very young roster. We do have guys that have a lot of experience. We don't have a lot of rookies, but relatively speaking, we've got a lot of guys in their second, third, [or] fourth year, so there's a good energy to the camp. There's a good energy and camaraderie to the team. It's just different than the last two years in that respect.
No doubt. In terms of it being different, you've got Damian Lillard, who is the lone member of last year's starting five who's still there. I'd ask if it's his team, but pretty much it is. How different is he now as a player and a leader than when he first came into the NBA?
Well, Damian is ready for the role that he has this year. Coming in as a rookie, he deferred to some of the older players -- obviously LaMarcus Aldridge being the best player on the team. I think Damian understood his role both on and off the court. He's a very competitive guy, but I think that these three years for him have set him and put him in a position where he's ready for the leadership mantle and he's really embraced that.
He organized a five-day workout for players in San Diego. Is that something you kind of nudged him to do or did he take that upon himself and just organize it and do it?
He did that by himself. He asked me about it, certainly, but it was his idea and we helped him out as far as some of the logistics. We had some of the coaches down there to help out, but that was his idea and something that he wanted to do, and it worked out really well.
You mentioned LaMarcus Aldridge. Obviously you do not have him there to get the ball into on the block, so how different is that offense going to look?
Well, we're going to have a lot of the same sets, but I think you're going to see a lot more movement, and as you mentioned, throwing the ball to LaMarcus 20 to 25 times on the block -- we're not going to have that element to our game to that degree. I think when the ball does go to the post, we're going to have more movement and more cutting, rather than just watching the post player play like we did with LA. With the style of play that we have, I think you're going to see a lot more movement, a lot more cutting, but I would really like to get players -- put them in positions -- like Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless and C.J. McCollum, where they are, in addition to being scorers and shooters, they are being play-makers as well.
Terry, certainly it's business and you knew there was a possibility he might leave, but as you look back, what types of emotions did you have when it was official that LaMarcus was leaving?
We knew it could go either way, so it wasn't something that really took us necessarily by surprise, because he had earned the right to become a free agent and so many teams were going after him. We knew there was a strong possibility that he could choose to leave, and I think it was a tough decision for him. But when he ultimately decided to go with San Antonio, I think the fact that we were prepared for it -- I think Neil Olshey did an outstanding job of being prepared to go in either direction, whatever choice that LaMarcus made. As soon as we got word that LA was going to go to San Antonio, then we shifted gears quickly and went to plan B, and like I said, Neil was very prepared for that possibility and we didn't really miss a beat, as far as our preparation with the roster.
In terms of that, for instance: Moe Harkless had a pretty quiet season in Orlando last year, where he spent a lot of time on the bench and he picked up a number of DNPs. You bring him in over the summer and he's been generating a lot of buzz in camp thus far. He's still young, but what did you see in him that made you think that he could do some good things for you?
One thing is that Neil had really looked at him hard when he came out of college in the draft. Neil had been a fan of his from day one that he came in the NBA. I think from our standpoint, what happened in Orlando last year was more of an outlier. You look at what he did in his second season was very encouraging. And for him coming in -- he's still a young player -- what I think he has the ability to do is expand his game and be more than just a slasher. I think he can handle the ball a little bit. His shooting last year was an outlier -- he shot 38% from three his second year, and I think he can get back to that. One of the things that we've done with our roster is we've gotten a lot of players who are on the same career arc as Damian, and Moe fits that. Also, I think his best days are ahead of him. I think part of our job as coaches is to get the most out of him.
Terry, in terms of that roster, you have 11 former first round draft picks on your team. That's an amazing number. Have you ever had a roster like that and what does that tell you about the potential of this team?
I've been in the league a long time -- I'd have to go check the rosters, but I think it speaks to the potential and the fact that, other than Chris Kaman, they're all in their mid-20s or younger. The potential is there and it's our job as coaches to get that out of them. But certainly -- in the NBA in particular -- if you're a first round pick, you have talent and you need to make the most of it.
Terry, I'm curious -- over the summer, you and your wife took a driving tour of Canada. It covered 2,200 miles in 12 days. Look, I know you. You had a lot on your mind, a season you got to get ready for, but that was a 12-day trip. Were you able to just to completely unplug from basketball or were you thinking about that roster and what the tone would be, that entire trip, for the upcoming season?
A little bit of both. We went up to Canada -- in the Canadian Rockies and Whistler and Victoria -- it was just a beautiful trip. But I'll be honest: it never leaves the back of my mind -- going back to the draft or free agency or once the roster set -- it's always in the back of your mind. I don't think, for me personally, you're able to completely put it in a closet and forget about it. It's always there: what I'm going to say to the team the first day of training camp, what we want to get accomplished in September, the conversations I want to have with each player. So it's there, but certainly when you see the beauty of the Canadian Rockies, you're able to put it on hold for a little bit, I guess.