750 THE GAME STAFF
Terry Stotts was the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers for nine seasons. He provided Damian Lillard a system and opportunity to become of the league’s top scorers and bona fide superstars.
Stotts was out of basketball two seasons after his firing in Portland, and many wonder to what degree Damian Lillard had a say in Stotts’ firing.
In the spring, Stotts got back into coaching by accepting an assistant position under new Bucks head coach Adrian Griffin. Then, Milwaukee swooped in as the surprising landing spot for Lillard in the mega trade with the Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns.
Just a few weeks after the trade, and days away from the start of the regular season, Stotts resigned from his role coaching Lillard and the Bucks.
What in the world is going on?
“This has to do with the basketball,” John Canzano said Thursday on 750 The Game. “This is an assistant coach on the team who after a couple weeks of being reunited with a star player that he coached for what – nine seasons? He is essentially going, ‘Not a day longer. I’ll give you your money back.”
Griffin told the Athletic that Stotts was “a terrific guy” and that “he made a decision, a personal decision, and we just have to respect that.”
Some reports suggest a rift of some kind between Stotts and Griffin that led to Stotts’ deciding to step down. But in Portland, there has to be a consideration to the nature of Stotts’ relationship with Lillard, and if that played a role.
“[Stotts] sees Lillard coming through the door, I have to think he kind of had some bad feelings himself on it,” Canzano continued on the way things ended for Stotts in Portland. “So maybe it is a little bit of Lillard tuning out Terry Stotts and going ‘I don’t want to do this again,’ and talking to the Bucks about it. Or maybe it’s a little bit of Terry Stotts going, OK if Dame doesn’t show up and come to me, and initiate a conversation in which he says ‘Hey, sorry things went sideways, I wish it would have been different,’ I don’t know what kind of relationship these guys have away from the basketball court and practice facility. But it feels to me like, how many weeks since Lillard showed up and training camp started? Just a couple of weeks and Terry Stotts went ‘Nah, no thanks. I’m not going to do it.'”
The timing of Stotts’ departure is bizarre, at best. Canzano says the decision must be motivated by one of two things.
“Either the Milwaukee Bucks came to Terry Stotts at Damian Lillard’s behest and said ‘You can’t be in this role. We need you in a different role’. And he decided to quit. Or, if Adrian Griffin’s being right, Terry Stotts just said ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’. Either the reason is, Terry just said ‘I don’t have it, I don’t have the fire anymore, I’m not looking forward to the travel, I don’t know what he’s going to say. I will certainly reach out to him. Or, he is looking at trying to co-exist again with Damian Lillard and he’s just not having it – ‘Eh, I don’t need it.'”
Listen to the full segment on Terry Stotts, Damian Lillard, and the odd dynamics in Milwaukee between the two former Trail Blazers leaders, at the start of the show podcast below.
John Canzano delivers the Bald Faced Truth afternoons 3-6 p.m. exclusively in Portland on 750 The Game.