Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com wrote a lengthy but incredibly compelling piece Saturday morning about the unlikely path that ultimately brought Terry Stotts to Portland.
For those unaware, Portland isn't Stotts' first head coaching gig. Nor his second. He's the most rare of creatures in NBA coaching circles, being given a third chance on the lead chair of an NBA coaching staff. Even the man himself didn't consider that he'd ever get the opportunity to lead a team again:
After brief stints with the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks ended in pink slips, Stotts anticipated his head coaching career was over. But success as an assistant led to another opportunity, and Stotts has taken full advantage.
"It wasn't really on my mind," he said..."Getting a third chance in this league, regardless of the situation or the circumstances, it's difficult to get a third job -- particularly if you don't have a winning record."
To give an idea of how rare it is to see a coach with a losing record get that third opportunity Pelton offers up some rather incredible data.
Of the six coaches since the ABA-NBA merger whose teams had also won fewer than 45 percent of their games in their first two full-time head coaching jobs, just one had been given a third opportunity: George Karl, Stotts' coaching mentor. (Since then, Randy Wittman also was hired a third time.)
Pelton goes on to chronicle Stotts' unlikely rise after Rick Carlisle (who had been fired at the end of the previous season) teamed up with Stotts and Dwane Casey and arranged a deal- they would become a package deal. Stotts lays out how it all worked out for Pelton:
"He had singled out Dwane and I as choices for being his assistants and when he interviewed for jobs in Dallas and other places, we were kind of included in the process," Stotts said. "He wasn't just bringing in Rick. He was bringing in Dwane and I."
After the success of the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat, Stotts (like Casey before him) became a hot commodity and was looked at for that possible third opportunity. Luck, circumstance, and Stotts' resilience all played a factor in him coming to Portland. The success was obvious - an NBA title as an assistant against the "Big 3" in Miami where he built the offense around Dirk Nowtizki - but the luck and circumstance were out of his hands. However, both would be in his favor.
Portland GM Neil Olshey was willing to go against that trend because of the advocates on Stotts' side, including Carlisle and agent Warren LeGarie; the fit with the Blazers' roster; and a closer look at his track record. After initially offering the job to former Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan, Olshey chose Stotts at the conclusion of an extensive search.
From there Pelton lays out how Stotts has grown, learning from his mistakes and shows some interesting data points that lend credence to the idea that maybe more coaches should be offered a third chance.
To read the entirety of the piece, and it's worth the read, you can check it out here.