After Portland announced former top Mavericks assistant Terry Stotts as its head coach on Wednesday, Stotts talked about freeing up the Trail Blazers’ game plan. More threes, more running, more room for players to make instinctual plays based on their abilities to read and react. Stotts was the offensive mind behind Dallas’ NBA title run in 2011, and he’ll have his own 6-10 centerpiece who can shoot in Portland, too, in LaMarcus Aldridge. He’s not Dirk Nowitzki, but the Dallas native is an All-Star worth building around. Aldridge also is the guy who campaigned for the job to go to video intern turned interim head coach Kaleb Canales. Then Stotts threw a curveball that will surely keep Aldridge pleased: Canales will stay on as assistant. Well this could be awkward.
What was barely touched on in the front office’s own words was whether this was a Stotts idea, which would be as gracious as it is puzzling, or if it was Portland’s insistence. Well officially, Stotts said he invited Canales back, which is either extremely gracious or possibly a first of its kind. Canales knows the team better than almost any other person in the entire front office with a new GM in Neil Olshey, a team president job yet to be filled after Larry Miller resigned, and an owner who’s not connected on a daily basis. His input would, and should, be valued and Olshey went out of his way during his own introductory press conference to laud Canales’ readiness. It wouldn’t not surprise me the Blazers did not want to lose him, even if it meant putting Stotts in an uncomfortable spot. Canales has been called an up-and-comer and yet he lost the job to Stotts — who’s never had a winning season in two previous head coaching jobs in the NBA — and was turned down by Olshey. One would think there has to be a hint of discord, at least for a bit. Can this situation work?
The finalists reunion might not be over. Once Stotts was done talking about his vision for the team, he also mentioned how he wanted to fill out his coaching staff. The Oregonian reported one person believed to be on Stotts’ short list is ex-Orlando assistant Steve Clifford. Who’s he? One of the four finalists for the Portland head coach job. If you can’t beat ’em out for the job, join the staff.
Will this be awkward with possibly three finalists on a staff?
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