Trail Blazers players won’t be thinking about saving coach Terry Stotts‘ job when they open their playoff series with the Nuggets tonight, CJ McCollum tells Jason Quick of The Athletic. Stotts is rumored to be among a handful of coaches who are in jeopardy if they suffer an early exit in the postseason. He has one year left on his current contract with a salary of more than $6MM.
McCollum made it clear that the players support Stotts, but there are other motivating factors.
“You have no control over those things,” he said. “I like Terry. Terry has been great for me, my career, my development, he’s given me a chance. I will forever be grateful for everything he has done for me. But your job as a player is to play. And his job as a coach is to coach. Like, you can’t worry about what could happen. That’s every year. Every year, I could be traded. Every year, a coach could lose his job. There is enough pressure to perform on its own.
“… I don’t need any extra motivation to help Terry keep his job. I’m gonna go hoop and do what I do no matter what. And I think that’s Terry’s mentality. If something happens, Terry is OK. He’s gonna be all right, and he’s probably going to get another head coaching job.”
There’s more Trail Blazers news to pass along:
- Damian Lillard discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic affected him and players in general in an in-depth interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic. He also addresses a recent column by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports calling for Portland to add more top-level talent during Lillard’s prime years. “People love to hear, ‘Oh, this guy might want out of here or out of there.’ I’ve constantly mentioned what my commitment to Portland is,” Lillard said. “I don’t think I need to keep going in on that. But over the course of a season, everybody gets frustrated, you know? And I’m not a person who fakes it for nobody. Not the media. Not my teammates. Not the fans. Not for nobody.”
- The 2017 trade that sent Jusuf Nurkic from Denver to Portland helped the Nuggets and Blazers both improve, writes Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post. Portland needed an upgrade at center, and Nurkic had just lost his starting job to Nikola Jokic.
- Zach Collins is the only player listed on the Trail Blazers’ injury report as the playoffs begin. Collins hasn’t played all season after undergoing surgery to fix a stress fracture in his ankle, but a recent story by Quick said the big man hasn’t given up hope of returning if Portland makes a long playoff run.