had a strong 2013-14 season under head coach Terry Stotts. (Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Trail Blazers have locked up head coach Terry Stotts with a multi-year extension after two years at the helm. While Portland could simply have retained Stotts by way of a 2014-15 team option, John Canzano of The Oregonian reported that the Blazers will both activate that option and establish a new agreement that keeps Stotts with the team until 2017.
"Terry has done an outstanding job during his first two years with the organization," said Blazers GM Neil Olshey. "This extension illustrates our confidence in him as our head coach as well as the Portland Trail Blazers' continued commitment to building a model of consistency and stability."
Stotts just completed his second season as head coach of the Blazers, in which his team improved 21 wins over its performance the year prior. Competence was expected of a Portland team well-stocked with veterans, though the Blazers caught the league by surprise with a 22-4 start and a push to the second round of the NBA playoffs. In all, Stotts led the Blazers to 54 wins -- tied for the fourth best record in the tough Western Conference and the franchise's best since 2009.
"I think we've had a very good year," Stotts said following the Blazers' elimination from the playoffs on Wednesday. "I think this was a special year. It was a special year. We weren't expected to be in the position that we were in the regular season. We weren't expected to win the first round. It was a special year. I thought every one of our starters had career years. The young guys got better. We fought through adversity during the season, made a strong push at the end of the year. There were so many positives about this season."
Under Stotts, the Blazers capitalized on their continuity, finishing fifth in points per possession. Their reads and recognition within Stotts' flexible offensive system grew more sophisticated, and the skills of All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, in particular, were featured to great effect. Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez rounded out one of the better starting lineups in the league, a group which served Stotts well in light of the team's recurring problems with depth.
Every one of those core starters is under contract and set to return next season, as are many of the Blazers' reserves. In maintaining the roster's foundation and likely improving upon it (both through expected offseason additions and the development of young players like Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Will Barton), Portland will again have the chance to make waves. Nothing can be guaranteed in a conference that seems to grow more competitive by the minute, though the security of returning the same basic group of players under the guidance of the head coach who brought along their 2013-14 success does offer some reassurance.
Still, Stotts and the Blazers will have their work cut out for them in terms of catching up to the truly elite teams in the West. If the first round of Portland's postseason was a confirmation of this team's quality, the second round was a sharp reminder of the gap between respectability and true title contention. Portland was able to outlast Houston in a series of too-close-to-call finishes, though San Antonio proved overwhelming.
"One of the tough things about losing in the playoffs is that you end on a loss," Stotts said. "I think it's important to look back on what we were able to accomplish this year. We got a taste of the playoffs, a taste of success and it's something we can build on going into next season."