Evidently it’s radio interview transcript day here at ForwardCenter.net. First there was LaMarcus Aldridge’s great interview on the Dan Patrick Show this morning and now we’ve got Terry Stotts on the Jim Rome Show, also from this morning.
In the interview, Stotts is asked about winning Game 1 in Houston, the performances of LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, Mo Williams charging up Nicolas Batum, whether there are lessons to be taken from Monday night’s wins by the Clippers and Grizzlies and the reasons why he doesn’t think the “Hack-A-Howard” is bad for the NBA.
Jim Rome: I’m joined right now by the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers. He led them to a 21-win improvement over last season, most in franchise history. I thought they were unbelievable in beating back Houston in overtime on Sunday night. Game 2 of that series, Portland at Houston, tomorrow night at 9:30 PM Eastern. I’m joined by Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. Terry good to have you back. How are you?
Terry Stotts: I’m doing great. How are you doing?
Jim Rome: Good Terry. After the regular season finale Terry, you said “Now the fun starts.” Exactly how much fun did you have Sunday night in Houston?
Terry Stotts: (Laughs) It was a really fun game. It was intense and I certainly had more fun once the final buzzer sounded. It was a great playoff game and I was proud of the way our team played and when you can pull out a game like that on the road, it is fun.
Jim Rome: The team was on the ropes multiple times in that game and simply refused to lose, refused to give in. How pleased were you then, not just with the win, but how your guys won that game?
Terry Stotts: Probably more so about how we competed. We got down double digits in the first half, we got down double digits late in the fourth quarter, we got down early in the overtime and we just kept finding ways to come back, whether it was with defensive plays or making big shots. As a coach, that’s what you want from your team is (going) out there competing every night and trying to find ways to win and that’s what we did.
Jim Rome: Terry Stotts joining us. LaMarcus Aldridge was a monster. He said after the game “This is one of those games where I could show my team that I wanted to lead.” What did he show you from a leadership standpoint?
Terry Stotts: A lot of things that he’s been doing all season. He’s been much more of a vocal leader this year. He’s been more vocal in the locker room, vocal in timeouts, vocal on the court. I think his leadership has shown all season. But in the game against Houston he probably showed as much leadership as I’ve seen in the timeouts when he wasn’t even in the game. The guys who were playing, he kept them engaged during timeouts, was animated on the bench and his performance on the court obviously spoke for itself.
Jim Rome: Portland head coach Terry Stotts visiting with us. As good as he was, what did you make of the performance you got from Damian Lillard in his first ever playoff game?
Terry Stotts: You know, I’ve been asked about him for two season now and the thing about Damian is that any time a question comes up, whether going back to summer league, going to exhibition season, whether he’s going to hit a rookie wall or not, he answers the bell ever time. He’s got a drive inside of him and a will to play well. He wants to be great and he wants to win. The fact he had such a terrific game in his first playoff outing really didn’t surprise me because that’s what Dame is all about.
Jim Rome: You know this guy. You live with him, you work with him, you work with him, but at the same time, I saw absolutely no fear. I saw a guy — and you can’t say this for everybody, right? — I saw a guy that wanted to be there in the moment. You’ve got your two bigs on the bench, he knew it was on him. He craved that, didn’t he? He needed that, he wanted that.
Terry Stotts: Yeah he does. I tell you, at the end of a game, he does relish the opportunity to make big plays at the end of the game or in overtime. He has a lot of confidence in himself and I think the statistics bear it out. He’s one of the best clutch performers in the league the last two years.
Jim Rome: Now Terry, there’s something that may or may not show up on the stat sheet. Let me just kind of lay this out. Chandler Parsons got off to a really, really good start and them Mo Williams apparently had a word with Nic Batum at halftime. Williams said later “I just kind of saw it in the first half that he wasn’t being aggressive. I thought Chandler Parsons was eating him for lunch. I just had to let him know at halftime because I know he’s better than that.” I’m guessing that’s not the first time that Mo Williams has done something like that for you and the team. What’s it like to have a vet like that on your roster.
Terry Stotts: Well the leadership — he’s been on 60-win teams in Cleveland. He was with the Clippers when they were good. He’s been in good situations and in tough situations and he knows the potential that this team has and the opportunities that don’t always come around throughout your career. He wants to seize the moment, not only for himself but especially for the team. We all know how important Nic is to the team and I think the best teams, I don’t want to use the word “police,” they look out for each other, they expect a lot of out each other. I think that’s an example of his leadership there.
Jim Rome: Terry Stotts joining us for another moment. Golden State won Game 1 against the Clippers on their home court, then they got beat by 40 last night. There may be a tendency for that to happen when the road team guarantees themselves a split after the first game. How do you guard against that?
Terry Stotts: You know, last night, and I told this to our team, it was two good examples of the way Houston is going to play tomorrow night. You look at how the Clippers responded after losing Game 1 and you look at how Memphis responded after losing Game 1. So those are great examples of how the previous game really sets the tone for the next game, particularly for the team that lost.
Jim Rome: Terry, let me ask you about the Hack-A-Howard strategy. I mean, that paid off big-time for you. And there seems to be a school of thought — and because I’m posing the question does not mean I subscribe to this — a school of thought that it’s just not good for the game. Where do you come out on that conversation?
Terry Stotts: You know, I’ve given that a lot of thought. And the way I look at it, the NBA played over 1,200 games this year and you can count how many times it was used in over 1,200 games. So to say it’s a bad thing for a thing that happens so infrequently, I think it’s much ado about nothing.
The second thing is — someone brought this up — it’s much like an intentional walk in baseball. You’re preventing a great hitter (from) hitting the ball, so we’re preventing a great player (from) getting close shots at the basket. But the payoff in baseball, you’re putting a runner on base. In basketball, you’re putting a guys at the free throw line. It’s up to however it pans out from that.
The other thing is, I don’t think it’s necessarily bad for the game because the drama in the arena. When Dwight Howard hit those two free throws, the place erupted. They were cheering. There was a lot of energy in the building. The drama of whether to use it or not and if you use it, will he make or miss the free throws, I think it adds drama and adds interest and it’s not like it’s something that’s used very often to begin with.
Jim Rome: Terry Stotts joining us. Game 2 tomorrow night, Portland at Houston. Once again, 9:30 PM Eastern time. Terry, it’s good to visit with you. Thank you very much. Good to have you back on.
Terry Stotts: Jim, it’s always a pleasure.
Greetings Trail Blazers fans. With the 2016 NBA Draft scheduled to take place on Thursday and the Trail Blazers recently making changes to their broadcast team, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, felt like it was a good time to break our hiatus to record a new edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
In this edition we discuss the Cavaliers winning the 2016 NBA Championship, talk to Kevin Calabro, fresh off of calling the deciding Game 7 of the NBA Sunday night, about taking over play-by-play duties for the Trail Blazers, discuss Portland’s options going into the draft considering the team doesn’t have a pick in either round and answer a host of your Twitter-submitted questions. Hopefully there’s enough here to get you through until the next time we record, which probably won’t be long.
A happy Friday the 13th to all of you loyal podcast listeners. Before everyone goes their separate ways now that the offseason is here, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net and TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio one last time to record a season-ending edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
On this edition, we attempt recap the series versus the Warriors, which ended in five games with a 125-121 loss at Oracle Arena Wednesday night, and the season in general, discuss the lasting effects of the playoff run and the respect that they earned from around the league due to their performance and look forward to some of the questions the Blazers will have to answer in the offseason, particularly in regard to free agency. And as always, we finish up by answering your Twitter-submitted questions on topics such as the culture the Trail Blazers have developed, (more) free agency, exit interviews and favorite moments from the just-completed season. It’s been a fun one.
Less than 12 hours after being eliminated from the postseason, the Trail Blazers returned to their practice facility in Tualatin to meet with the coaches to discuss offseason plans, clean out their lockers and take questions from the media one last time before starting their vacations.
Here’s the audio and a few quotes from Terry Stotts and the players from today’s exit interviews…
On the 2015-16 season…
“Like I said last night, this has been a special season. This group of players, what they were able to do individually and collectively, our chemistry was really good. We had good guys, they got along, players and coaches. It means a lot and it goes both ways. It was a joy. I think players enjoyed coming to work every day and I know the coaches and staff did, too.”
On whether this was his most rewarding season as a head coach…
“No question. This was an extremely rewarding season because it kind of played out the way we wanted it to. And we’re not talking about the record or the playoffs, everything was about growth, improvement, getting better throughout the season and being better at the end of the season. I think we did that individually and collectively and from a coaching standpoint, that’s as pure as it gets. That’s what coaching is about. You don’t get to experience that very much at the NBA level.”
On whether he expects anyone on his staff to be interviewed for various open head coaching positions…
“I hope so. I can’t say enough about how good my staff is. I think Jay Triano and Nate Tibbetts and David Vanterpool are all ready to be considering for head coaching jobs. I think they’re all prepared to do a great job as a head coach depending on whatever a team is looking for. I hope they get consideration because they’re all very deserving.
On many of his teammates deciding to stay in Portland during the offseason…
“That means a lot because I stay here every summer. I’m used to coming in here like ‘I wonder when everybody else coming back to town,’ you know what I mean? The trainers are here, the coaches are here and it’s an empty gym. And even after the game last night, on the plane, I started getting worried already. I was sitting on the plane like ‘Man, we had some success this year, it was unexpected it was no pressure. Next year people gonna expect a little bit more’ and I started to get worried about too many pats on the back. ‘They weren’t supposed to do this but they did that.’ I started getting worried, but we don’t have those kind of guys. We’ve got hungry guys, we’ve got humble guys that work hard. We had a taste this season as a young group of how well we could do and what it takes. We lost to a really experienced, championship team. That makes me happy to hear that so many guys are going to be here working out in the summer because that lets me know that they see how close we are and they see how important it’s going to be going forward.”
On free agency and having a say in the process…
“I’m pretty sure they’ll communicate what the plans are with me, but like I’ve said in the past, my job is to be a good teammate, to make sure I put in my time and become a better player and that’s what I’ll do. They ask me my opinion on something, I’ll give them my honest opinion, but I love all the guys that we have on our roster now. I think going forward, if we continue to grow together, we’ll be a good team. Obviously it’s a business and rosters change, players make decisions for themselves, so when that time comes, we’ll see what happens. But when they come to me ask for my opinion or what I think about something, I’ll tell them what I think.”
On what he’s looking for as a restricted free agent…
“Any pay raise is going to be significantly higher than what I’m making now. But like I said earlier, it’s just situation really for me. It doesn’t make sense to make a lot of money and go to a team that, if you don’t fit that system, then get paid a lot of money to be frustrated? That doesn’t make sense to me. The culture here, it’s great. I know this organization well, I know the system, know the coaches, players. It’s just real comfortable here. I wouldn’t mind being here, I really wouldn’t. It’s really just coming down to situation and how I can continue to improve as a basketball player.”
On head coach Terry Stotts…
“Definitely think he should get an extension. I feel like everybody here knows that he should get an extension. He’s done a great job with this team. It’s really hard to put into words what he did with this group because nobody expected us to do what we did. Even from Day One, even through the games where we were 11-20, seven-game losing streak, he never folded and he always told us it’s all about trusting the process and we stuck with that throughout this whole year.”
On spending time in Portland this offseason…
“I think, for one, it doesn’t rain a lot in the summer, so that helps. Just being around the facility, 24 hour access, you’re able to get a lot of things done without a distraction. You go home, you go to certain cities, you either got to pay to get in the gym or you’ve got to worry about people interrupting you while you workout. I go back to my high school but sometimes I’ve got to just like lock the door so I can just workout and not have to worry about certain interruptions because you can’t get through a full workout when people are coming in, talk to you. It’s meant to be a compliment to you, it’s hard. So I think it helps that here, you just come in, the doors are locked, you’ve got your finger scan, you workout when you want, the weather is nice. You’re paying rent here anyway, so it makes sense.”
On the camaraderie of the roster and the changes that might be in store…
“I think we had a really unique group. They did a great job of putting together like minds, young guys who are easy to talk to. Nobody is really arrogant or overly cocky. We’ve got some ignorant guys on the team that you guys guys know who’s outlandish with his statements. I won’t put him out there, he knows who he is. Besides that, we all got along well, everybody spoke their minds, nobody was afraid to say certain things. If somebody played bad, if somebody wasn’t doing things the right way, you could address it and nobody would frown or look at you the wrong way. So I like the way our team is put together, I like the work ethic everybody had. This is one of the rare teams where you could hang out with players off the court. Everybody’s got their friends, but I could hang out with any one of the 15 guys off the court and be perfectly comfortable, eat dinner, et cetera… We’ve got a really good unit and a lot of guys made themselves some money this year, a lot of guy’s prices went up. Hopefully we can rekindle the flame, but if not, we had a good run, we had a good year together collectively and wish everybody the best of luck in the free agency process.
On how he’s approaching restricted free agency…
“To be honest with you, I haven’t had a real concrete conversation with my agent about this. I wanted it to be, right now, about my rehab and about supporting the guys, being there however I could, I guess more from an emotional standpoint, for the team. I certainly wish I could have been out there. With that being said, I’m sure we’ll talk within the next couple of days about how we’re going to really approach this, the timing of things, I suppose what teams are interested, what teams would maybe like to meet in person. I don’t have a concrete plan at this point. Restricted free agency, it gets a little hairy, it takes time, teams maybe don’t want to tie their money up. I honestly don’t know all the ins and outs of it. Like I said before the season when I didn’t accept an extension, I’m confident in where I’m at. It’s my agent’s job to present whatever he has on his mind and what’s on my plate from that side of things. My job right now is simply to rehab my shoulder, continue to work on my leg strength, which is a huge focus of mine for this summer, and just figure out different way in the weight room or out here, even simple things as ball handling, just trying to improve as a player and as a man.”
On why he’s going to spend much of the offseason in Portland…
“I’m coming back to Portland just because went through all that rain, got to enjoy some of the sun. I like it here. I’m renting a spot, so I’m just going to stay here. I like Todd (Forcier) and BK (Ben Kenyon) and those guys, so definitely going to put a lot of work in in the weight room. It’s always good vibes here so I don’t think guys want to get away. Some teams, you want to get away just because you don’t like certain people. It’s not like that here. I enjoyed being here so that’s why I’m going to stick around and do most of my training out here.”
On the realities of keeping a roster with multiple free agents together…
“It’s going to be tricky with all the salary cap stuff going on. I think a lot of the guys who are free agents definitely raised their value. I think everyone did. You never know. I hope all those guys get paid well, I think they will. They deserve it. You just never know with free agency, who they go after and things like that, but I hope everybody comes back, but that’s not really realistic. It doesn’t really work like that in the league. I just tried to enjoy that time yesterday because I’ve been around a little bit and I know how the business side of things work.”
On his mindset going into the offseason…
“This summer is big for me, become more of a scoring threat. I think there’s a lot to be added. I look forward, if the opportunity is there, to come back to have some stability from a staff perspective. I would look forward to coming back to a similar situation from one season to the next. I’ve played for three coaches in three years, so I think that would be something I’d look forward to as well… Once you’ve been traded, you never know.”
On being a restricted free agent…
“Free agency is something I haven’t really thought about. I’ve tried not to think about it during the season and we just finished yesterday, so it hasn’t really been on my mind yet. It’s something that we’ll have to think about soon.”
On his first season in Portland…
I loved it. It was by far the most fun season I’ve had. These guys here are great, the organization is great. I really, really enjoyed it and looking forward to seeing what happens this summer.”
On his first season in Portland…
“It’s the most fun year I think I’ve had as a pro. We had a great group of guys, high character guys, silly guys and it was a fun year. That’s without even being on the court. On the court, we had a special group. We came together halfway through, really made it a special year all the way until last night when we’re playing against the champions, gave them all we had. Played a tough series, obviously it didn’t end the way that we wanted it to, but it’s a year we’re all proud of.”
His thoughts on entering free agency and what he’s looking for…
This is my second time doing it and it’ll be a little different than the first time. I think getting a taste of what this year and this postseason was like and how much fun, how competitive it is, I think, number one, being on a team that’s a winning team. It’s obviously tough to get on one of the elite elite teams, but that could be a possibility. That could easily be a possibility here. Being on a team that is about winning and that’s a good fit for me.
On his first season with the Trail Blazers…
“It was an amazing journey of growth. We grew a lot throughout the season, personally and as a team. It was just fun to be a part of it.”
How he looks back on the season in terms of enjoyment…
The season was great. Any time you have guys that are the same age, it just makes it a lot easier to get along. It’s easy to have relatable points, different things like that. A lot of us are going through similar things in our careers so you get to relate on that note. When it came to comfortably in that sense, it was just unbelievable. And then I think that’s why the chemistry was there as well. Even our vets and the older guys like Chris Kaman, they were a joy to be around as well. From top to bottom, everybody was kind of in that same wavelength of what they were trying to do. It just made it easy to get along.