Trail Blazers hire Terry Stotts as head coach

Trail Blazers hire Terry Stotts as head coach
Terry Stotts (Photo courtesy Portland Trail Blazers)

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Trail Blazers finally have a new head coach.

Tuesday, the team announced the hiring of Terry Stotts, who most recently coached as an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks from 2008 to 2012 and helped lead the team to the 2011 NBA Championship.

The 54-year-old has been a head coach for the Milwaukie Bucks and Atlanta Hawks. His overall coaching record is 115-168.

"I'm very pleased to be a part of a great franchise in a beautiful city with such a proud history," Stotts said. "I look forward to working hard with Neil and our players toward the ultimate goal of bringing another championship to Portland."

Stotts was hired over former interim coach Kaleb Canales, who was also a finalist for the job and received public endorsements from many of the team's current players.

“Terry is one of the elite offensive minds in the NBA,” said Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey. “He understands the vision for the future of the franchise, appreciates the process involved and will create an environment on the court that will produce championship habits.”

Stotts becomes the 14th head coach in Trail Blazers history.

A team spokesman said Canales will remain with the team as an assistant coach.

While the team may develop championship habits, it appears to be several seasons away from contending for championship banners.

The roster as constructed is interesting, yet unproven. Aldridge and Batum are set at forward, but incumbent shooting guard Wesley Matthews is coming off a so-so season in which he shot 41 percent from the field and the Trail Blazers thus far don't have a true center for the opening tip on Halloween night.

Rookie Damian Lillard, the sixth overall pick in the draft, is expected to start at point guard after his good showing in the Las Vegas summer league. Other intriguing young players include 7-foot-1 Meyers Leonard, the 11th overall pick in the draft; guard Elliot Williams, who had flashes of brilliance before a shoulder injury ended his season; and a pair of new imports — forward Joel Freeland of Great Britain and swingman Victor Claver of Spain.

Stotts coached Atlanta to a 52-85 record after replacing Lon Kruger in December 2002. He was an assistant with Golden State before getting his second chance as a head coach with Milwaukee in 2005. He led the Bucks to the playoffs in 2006, but was fired toward the end of the following season.

He has coached under Rick Carlisle the past four seasons. In a recent interview with The Oregonian, Carlisle said: "Of all the coaches presently in play, Terry is by far the best available. He's a professional and understands the process of NBA coaching and how to communicate and teach young players."

Before becoming a head coach, Stotts was an assistant under George Karl for six years in Seattle and four with Milwaukee.

He played college ball at Oklahoma and was drafted in the second round by the Houston Rockets in 1980.