Lakers have interviewed Terry Stotts for head coaching job


The Los Angeles Lakers may be taking their time to find their next head coach, but it doesn’t mean they are limiting themselves when it comes to choosing and interviewing candidates.

As expected, they have shown interest in prominent candidates such as the Utah Jazz’s Quin Snyder, the Toronto Raptors’ Nick Nurse and Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers.

LA also reportedly has interest in Mike Brown, who is currently an assistant with the Golden State Warriors and previously coached the Purple and Gold about a decade ago.

More recently, the Lakers have asked for permission to interview Darvin Ham and Adrian Griffin, two relatively young assistant coaches with the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, respectively.

Now, they have reportedly added another name to their list of official candidates: Terry Stotts.

Stotts did a solid job with the Portland Trail Blazers over the last several years, molding Damian Lillard and company into a perennial playoff team.

His zenith came in 2019 when he guided the Blazers to the Western Conference Finals after earning a Game 7 victory in the prior round against the Denver Nuggets.

Stotts left the Blazers last June as part of what seems to be a set of wholesale changes the organization has made in the last calendar year.

What are Stotts’ strengths and weaknesses?

In recent years, Stotts’ Blazers teams have been very weak defensively. Last season, they ranked second-to-last in defensive rating.

However, under Stots, Portland has twice made it into the top-10 in defensive rating, so perhaps he isn’t as bad a defensive tactician as his former team’s numbers may suggest.

Many feel that defense is the Lakers’ biggest weakness right now, and it is not clear if Stotts would be of any real help on that end of the floor.

Via Silver Screen and Roll:

“Defense is the low-hanging fruit here,” Dave Deckard of Blazers Edge wrote to Silver Screen and Roll. “Portland defended well when they had a full roster to work with, but that happened seldomly, mostly due to the travails of center Jusuf Nurkic. When the Blazers had to stretch defensively under Stots, it just didn’t work.

“Personnel was part of it. For years Stots got fed 1.5-dimensional players. They could score or defend, but not both. Given that choice, he won with scoring. But Stotts also ran a conservative defense, with centers icing back into the lane on the regular, guards taking zero chances. The Blazers didn’t generate steals or fast-break run-outs off their defense, but also couldn’t stop the pick and roll. That begs the question, ‘What exactly WERE they doing?’ Nobody ever discovered the answer.”

However, Stotts could jump-start LA’s offense, something that was about as bad as its defense, especially in halfcourt situations.

“Stotts thrived under three pillars in Portland: synergy, freedom, collegiality,” wrote Deckard. “They coalesce in his instincts for offense. He knows what his players can give. He creates opportunities for them to contribute.”

“Rewind to Stotts’ earlier years in Portland and you’ll find some of the most mobile, beautiful basketball seen since Jack Ramsay patrolled the sidelines here,” Deckard continued. “Playing off of Lillard, Portland scorers got open almost effortlessly. When a player was left unguarded, the pass was sure to follow.

“There was a time in Portland when pretty much every player blossomed as a scorer. The ledger of those who played their best seasons under Stotts is far longer than those who didn’t succeed in his system.”

Stotts is also apparently a positive leader, considering something that was also a strong trait of Frank Vogel, the Lakers’ recently deposed coach, and they certainly need an infusion of positive energy all that has gone wrong for them lately.

“A sense of camaraderie hung over the team with Stotts in charge,” wrote Deckard. “Good feelings and good spirits became the norm, win or lose. He approached issues with firm optimism. He also took responsibility when things didn’t go right, never foisting it on players or management, though both groups held their share of blame. You wouldn’t think it from seeing him bark at referees or looking like he ate rancid goat after a particularly bad play, but Stotts was one of the most positive people the Portland franchise has ever employed.”

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