Welcome To Rip City
After months of waiting to hear who will finally replace ousted head coach Nate McMillan, Blazers fans are waking up Wednesday morning to hear that Kaleb Canales is not the official head coach of Rip City, but rather Dallas Mavericks’ assistant Terry Stotts.
Here are some thoughts on the Portland Trail Blazers new hire:
1). A Trade Proposal
McMillan for Stotts.
That’s what this coaching change appears to be at the chagrin of many. For all of the Blazers fans that were calling for McMillan’s job title to be stripped last season, very few, if any, ever thought that Blazers would go in this direction.
Initially, this move looks like a step down in the big picture. McMillan is part of the U.S. Olympic coaching staff and has held head coaching gigs with two franchises for at least five seasons.
Should these accomplishments have kept McMillan employed with the Blazers?
Not necessarily. That said, I do not think that was the move that anyone had envisioned in March, and McMillan’s most significant detractors in Portland could soon find themselves pining for the days of Sarge.
In a city such as Los Angeles or New York, this hiring would get blasted based on the fact that nobody could pick him or his name out of a line-up.
That said, Blazers fans had their expectations tempered when The Oregonian reported that general manager Neil Olshey had all but essentially narrowed his coaching search list down to interim coach to Stotts and Kaleb Canales.
With potential candidates such as Brian Shaw, Mike D’Antoni, and the Van Gundys off the table, Blazers fans were going to get this result one way or the other and therefore lowered expectations as a result.
3). Don’t Look for 45 Wins
Rebuilding is the word that franchise refuse to use when selling season tickets, because of the negative connotation that it carries. Stotts’ name thus far in his career screams rebuilding because of what he hasn’t accomplished.
Stotts record is 115-168 in his prior two stints as head coach with the Milwaukee Bucks (2005-07) and Atlanta Hawks (2002-04). His teams recorded only one playoff appearance, in 2006 with Milwaukee when he went 40-42, during his tenures.
While Stotts was the “offensive coordinator” for the Dallas Mavericks during the 2011 NBA Championship run, I question how much better he will progress as a head coach.
The best hope is that he will be like Alvin Gentry.
4). You Say Stotts, I Say Alvin Gentry
What Blazers fans can optimistically expect for Stotts is for his trajectory to resemble the Phoenix Suns head coach. In Gentry’s first stop as coach of Detroit (1997-2000), he went 73-72.
His stock rose and then the Clippers snatched him up. In Clipperland, he then went on to a post a record of 89-133 through 2003 before getting canned.
Gentry languished as an assistant before getting another chance with the Suns in 2008, where he has gone 145-116 without threatening for a championship.
5). LaMarcus Aldridge and Dirk Nowitzki
The two players are more similar than Blazers might like to believe. Both men are near seven-footers that are the faces of their franchises, relied upon for the offensive talents, and do not have a high propensity to rebound for a full 48-minute game.
That said, Nowitzki and Aldridge are gifted with their ability to score from 18-feet on the offensive end and I believe that Stotts can make Aldridge a better player as a result of his time spent with the Mavericks’ star.
What Nowitzki has that Aldridge lacks is the willingness to take shots in the fourth quarter. Hopefully Stotts can change the mindset of the Blazers star in this regard.
If the new coach has the ability to communicate with his new star, then Rip City could find itself at the beginning of a revival.