Portland Trail Blazers fire Terry Stotts as head coach; Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups linked with vacant role

No team in the NBA has a longer active streak of postseason appearances than the Portland Trail Blazers, who have got there in each of the last eight seasons. That wasn’t enough to save Terry Stotts, and Portland will have a new coach next season.

The Trail Blazers and Stotts parted ways Friday, ending a nine-year run that saw the team good enough to get to the playoffs – but not good enough to get past the first round in four of the last five seasons.

“I have the utmost respect for Terry and what he has accomplished these past nine seasons,” Blazers president Neil Olshey said. “This was a difficult decision on both a personal and professional level but it’s in the best interest of the franchise to move in another direction.

“Terry will always hold a special place in the Trail Blazer family and the Portland community. We relied on the integrity, professionalism and consistency he brought to the job every day and we wish he and Jan nothing but the best.”

Two early frontrunners have now emerged for the vacancy in Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups and Lakers assistant Jason Kidd.

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Kidd already has NBA head coaching experience with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, while Billups only joined the Clippers staff in November.

“The Portland Trail Blazers are increasingly expected to hire Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups or Lakers assistant Jason Kidd as franchise’s next head coach,” reported Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“He should (be at) the top of everybody’s list who has an opening in the NBA,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of Kidd earlier Friday, hours before Stotts’ fate became known.

The decision for Stotts to depart Moda Center was being termed as a mutual decision. The move was made one day after Portland’s season ended with a six-game, first-round ouster at the hands of the Denver Nuggets.

“Just like at the end of every year, we are all evaluated,” Stotts said after the season-finale against Denver and as speculation about his status immediately started to grow. “We will see what happens.”

It didn’t take long to get an answer.

Stotts was the NBA’s fourth longest-tenured coach in his current job behind only San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra and Dallas’ Rick Carlisle. He went 402-318 in his nine regular seasons in Portland, with the eight playoff berths, and led the team to the Western Conference finals in 2019 – where the Blazers were swept by Golden State.

Portland finished the regular season 42-30 and earned the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

Portland were riding momentum, having won 10 of their final 12 regular-season games. The Blazers were also healthy, with both big man Jusuf Nurkic and guard CJ McCollum back from extended absences because of injuries.

But once again, the playoff trip was brief.

💯 percent … I will miss him. https://t.co/yoZNdY625W

Stotts said he was proud of what Portland was able to accomplish, given the injuries and disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

“What we did with CJ and Nurk missing games, I was proud of that,” Stotts said. “At the end of the season, to do what we did was pretty impressive.”

In the end, it just wasn’t impressive enough.

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