Yesterday afternoon Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts signed a multi-year contract extension with the team. The details of the contract were not disclosed, per team policy. Retaining Stotts makes a lot of sense for a Portland team that went from a 42.4 Win/Loss percentage to 65.9 in just two seasons under his guidance, which is why none of you are gasping as you read this. Though, make no mistake, his return was far from guaranteed.
Portland has not grown so rapidly accustomed to expectation that they are willing to kick their coach to the curb after a brilliant year—which does happen. Just last season both Lionel Hollins (Memphis) and Coach of the Year George Karl (Denver) were released by their team after achieving the best record in the history of their franchise; 56-26 and 57-25 respectively. Heck, Golden State released Mark Jackson last week after he brought them to their best record since 1992.
Point being, we’re lucky to have an organization that prioritizes stability. Even if Stotts is not quite the mastermind we perceive him to be when the Trail Blazers are winning, nothing is more important to the success of such a youthful core of players than a reliable foundation. Keeping Stotts is a great way to continue building on what is already built while maintaining the “win now” mindset they must have as long as the stars are under contract for another season.
The move does, however, mean some probable adjustments to the current coaching staff. Or, at least, it should. Stagnation will not be permitted to accompany rising expectations in 2014-2015. Stotts must hire a defensive specialist to give his team a fighting chance at living up to its potential. The old adage “defense wins championships” is exaggerated from a truth, but true nonetheless. The Trail Blazers need to be gifted on both ends of the floor to win a title.
So, while not unexpected, this contract extension is cause for excitement. It means management has confidence in their product. Stotts was a key component in Portland’s success this season and has gained the trust of the organization as well as the players. The Trail Blazers are better with him on the payroll and should continue to improve as he remains there; potentially with help.