The vacancy in the Portland Trail Blazers’ head coaching position is just one of many around the NBA currently. Brad Botkin of CBS Sports examined the various vacancies between the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans, Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards and the Blazers to establish which situation might be most desirable for a future head coach. According to Botkin, the Blazers are third for good reason.
The Blazers are arguably the best short-term situation. For all the bad vibes around this team after its first-round loss to the shorthanded Nuggets, we’re talking about a starting five of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Norman Powell (if they’re able to re-sign him), Robert Covington and Jusuf Nurkic. That’s a good team even if GM Neil Olshey doesn’t make a big trade potentially involving McCollum, who’s really the only attractive trade chip the team has outside of Lillard.
The problem with the Blazers job is Olshey expects the defense to improve significantly with, for the most part, the same roster that Terry Stotts just led to the 29th overall defensive rating. That’s not an easy job. One could argue whoever gets this job is being set up to fail in that regard. Also, what if this doesn’t work and Lillard starts demanding out? Ask Stephen Silas how it feels to go to a team with contending expectations only to devolve into a blown-up tank job.
That said, as long as Lillard — who’s under contract through 2024 — is around, coaching him is just so enticing, particularly for a coach who thinks they can implement a bit more movement to create some shots outside of isolation/pick and roll, much like what Steve Kerr did for Stephen Curry.
Botkin’s thinking is in line with Zach Harper of the Athletic, who also ranked the Blazers third in overall vacancies.
You can read the entire rankings here.