It’s not fairly as impactful or scandalous as Ime Udoka getting sidelined earlier than Boston’s season final September, however a 12 months later one other Japanese Convention contender has misplaced an influential coach on the eve of the season. Milwaukee’s serendipitous reunion of longtime Portland Path Blazers head coach/present Bucks assistant Terry Stotts with Damian Lillard got here to an sudden finish on Thursday when Stotts stepped down from Milwaukee’s teaching workers.
Stotts joined the Bucks in June, and his presence appeared to make Milwaukee a extra fascinating vacation spot for Lillard. The opposite two locations on Lillard’s checklist have been Miami, the place he was tight with Bam Adebayo, and Brooklyn, whose cornerstone was a detailed sufficient good friend of Lillard’s that he sat courtside to watch them play towards the tip of the 2023 marketing campaign. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee being the No. 1 seed within the East a 12 months in the past definitely helped, however Stotts was a small piece of Portland within the midwest for Dame.
No person would blame Stotts, 65, for stepping away from the grind after two years off, however you’d assume being on the championship hunt with Lillard may have motivated him to remain for one final hurrah. Stotts’ choice to step away every week earlier than the common season is a touch that every one is just not effectively in Cream Metropolis. Not solely was Stotts somebody that Lillard trusted, however he was a veteran thoughts on first-time head coach Adrian Griffin’s workers.
There was additionally admiration between Stotts and Lillard. At his introductory press convention, Lillard stated, “It’ll be easy…There’s plenty of issues which might be acquainted. I’ve performed withTerry [Stotts] for 9 years. Loads of stuff we put in is stuff I’ve finished for a very long time. So it’s easy for me. I perceive it. I do know the place to seek out myself”
All of the indicators level to a misalignment between Griffin and Stotts. Stotts was an addition reportedly made on the behest of the group, and given how extremely Lillard considered Stotts, there could not have been sufficient house on that teaching workers for these egos. Not solely is Griffin a rookie head coach, however Stotts is a seasoned coach who has collected expertise as a head coach at a number of stops together with Milwaukee, though that was two possession regimes in the past. His rotations and lineups have been a bane of Portlandia’s existence for years.
Griffin talked about Stotts as a de facto offensive coordinator all through the offseason, nevertheless it seems one thing modified in that dynamic or the strain was all the time there and simply effectively hidden. With the common season simply over the horizon, Stotts could have determined this was pretty much as good a time as any to make a beeline to the exits and Lillard had no bearing on his choice.
Griffin was conciliatory when requested about Stotts’ departure on Thursday, however any disagreements between Stotts and Griffin turned magnified exponentially as soon as Lillard arrived.
It’s stunning Stotts left voluntarily as an alternative of awkwardly standing round and changing into an much more distinguished sideline voice anytime the Bucks hit a tough patch like a number of the extra ruthless figures in teaching would have finished. He’s a classier man than most.
His resignation removes that doable distraction from Griffin’s peripherals. Previous to this season, Griffin had by no means held a head teaching place and now he’s tasked with maximizing two of probably the most distinctive abilities in basketball with out his lead assistant.
Stotts’ departure in all probability gained’t have an effect on the Bucks’ total successful share, however his mysterious and abrupt resignation has created intrigue concerning the internal workings of the Bucks new teaching workers on a membership that already had questions on how their two superstars were going gel on the court.