Damian Lillard is a nice guy and a phenomenal basketball player. He’s also a terrific teammate, an integral part of the Blazers’ success, and a player they’ll miss as he moves on to the post-season. But with the Blazers eliminated from the playoffs, Lillard’s free agency is just the tip of the iceberg that is the Blazers’ coaching search. There’s also the matter of the lasting effects of this season’s disappointing campaign.
The Portland Trail Blazers have decided to fire president of basketball operations Neil Olshey, and hire forward Jeremy Lin as their next head coach. So, what does this mean for the franchise?
Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard tried out a popular philosophy – and, wow, it quickly got out of hand. Lillard and the Trail Blazers lost six games in the NBA playoffs despite his incredible effort. After the team parted ways with coach Terry Stotts, Lillard made it clear he would prefer a new coach. But instead of reviving him, Lillard got Jason Kidd to take his name off the table. Lillard can be forgiven for being impatient. He just finished his ninth season in the NBA and turns 31 this summer. He is the epitome of a small market superstar. Lillard has remained loyal to Portland despite only making the Conference finals once. His departure from Portland this summer will be problematic because his four-year, $196 million contract extension doesn’t take effect until next season. This is a problem because very few teams have acceptable exemptions in their projections.
Why did Damian Lillard want to get Jason Kidd?
. Damian Lillard told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports who he would like to see in Stotts’ place. Jason Kidd is my husband. Damian Lillard Lillard never played with or for Kidd, so where is the connection? Lillard is yet another in an impressive line of superstar point guards from Oakland, Calif. Gary Payton was the first on that team, Kidd was the next, and Lillard is the next generation. Payton and Kidd are members of the Hall of Fame. Lillard is well on his way to doing just that: he already has five All-NBA tournament wins to his name. (Dahm also has a mini MVP trophy from last year’s draft in Orlando as a bobblehead). Stotts is currently the only coach under whom Lillard has played in his NBA career. They arrived in Portland in the same 2012-13 season, with Stotts joining the Trail Blazers after four years and a championship ring as an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks. Lillard was a mid-level star selected by Weber State with the sixth pick in the NBA Draft. Together, they have led the Blazers to the playoffs in each of the last eight seasons. If Damian Lillard wants to participate in his first search for a coach for the franchise, it seems like he deserves it.
Why Kidd rejected Lillard
. Jason Kidd was intrigued by Portland’s opening and the opportunity to coach Damian Lillard. But after Lillard so openly expressed his desire for Kidd to be the one to replace Stotts, it put the Los Angeles Lakers’ current assistant in an awkward position, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Portland is a top tier organization and will have some excellent candidates for the head coaching position, but I chose not to be a part of it. Jason Kidd Immediately following his retirement in 2013, Kidd coached the Brooklyn Nets for one season. He ended up with the Milwaukee Bucks after attempting to oust former Nets general manager Billy King in a power grab. He was let go in January 2018 after 3 1/2 seasons with the Bucks and joined Frank Vogel’s staff with the Lakers in 2019. Portland can dodge a bullet, as Kidd’s tactical skills have never been praised.
Did Portland fire the right person?
Damian Lillard, left, and Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts. | Steph Chambers/Getty Images Portland’s coach vacancy is the result of an amicable agreement between the club and Stotts. What does this scenario look like in the real world? Probably something like this: I quit my job. You can’t quit, we’ll fire you. You can’t fire me. I quit my job. After all, reciprocity is not necessarily pleasant. But how much of this is Neil Olshey’s fault? He also came to Portland in 2012, was responsible for drafting Stotts, and made Damian Lillard the first pick in the draft during his time with the team. But Olshey hasn’t exactly surrounded Lillard with a great team. Yes, CJ McCollum was a good first round pick. But there were many other measures (Arron Afflalo, two first-round picks in exchange for Zach Collins) that were questionable, to say the least. The current team includes Lillard, McCollum and many others. Norman Powell has blossomed since being traded by the Toronto Raptors. But the next one to properly defend Enes Kanter will be the first. Anfernee Simons, though talented, is not quite there yet. They have the old Carmelo Anthony, not the old Carmelo Anthony. There’s not much there. But, as is so often the case, the general manager puts together a mediocre team and fires the coach who couldn’t win a ring with it. Damian Lillard needs help, and it remains to be seen if the new system will provide it. COMPARED TO: Damian Lillard received an impassioned apology from ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith: I’m sorry, it’s my fault