Who is going to take the fall for the Portland Trail Blazers during the offseason? I think we all know who it will be, fair or not.
Over the last decade, the Portland Trail Blazers have relatively been the same team. In theory, they’re a potential dark horse threat in the Western Conference year after year that, with the exception of one season, hasn’t exactly acted as so in the postseason.
Still, the consistency that the Blazers have had over that span, under head coach Terry Stotts and Damian Lillard, has been nothing short of commendable.
Though, as the playoffs approach once again, and with the Blazers entering as a lower-seeded team and likely facing another first-round playoff exit, a change appears on the horizon.
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According to The Athletic (subscription required), if the Blazers aren’t able to surpass expectations in the postseason, the team is expected to part ways with Stotts heading into the offseason.
Even though this is the general progression teams take in trying to improve, I can’t help but think that Stotts is about to take the fall for someone else’s miscues.
Would another coach have the Portland Trail Blazers in a better position?
Looking objectively, with how the Blazers have built this roster around Lillard, how much better could another coach have done? Portland has made the playoffs in every season under Stotts, with the exception of his first season with the team. They’ve advanced past the first round three times and made it to the Western Conference Finals once.
Even though this franchise is looking for its first championship in modern history, I don’t think their inability to follow through on that should fall on the shoulders of Stotts alone. For the most part, Stotts has been successful as the head coach of the Blazers.
In fact, there’s an argument to be made – which was highlighted by Yahoo’s Chris Haynes last week – that the front office has let this organization down by not pairing Lillard with a second superstar yet.
McCollum has been great for the team, but he’s a far cry from other teams’ second options when you look around in the Western Conference – between Anthony Davis (second option to LeBron James), Paul George (second option to Kawhi Leonard), Chris Pau (second option to Devin Booker), and Jamal Murray (second option to Nikola Jokic).
Lillard has said all the right things, been a picture-perfect face for the Blazers’ franchise, and continues to be one of the league’s most dynamic guards in the modern NBA. Still, while the front office has tried to surround him with “good” fits around him, they have failed to try and make the splash move that Lillard has needed.
Nevertheless, after nine seasons something has to change. And if it’s not going to be the front office’s approach or the star player (Lillard) who has been nothing but loyal and extremely productive for the team, it has to be Stotts. Fair or not, that’s the way business runs in the NBA. But the Blazers might be trying to fix something that may not even be broken, in an attempt to save face.