Nearly a month after firing Frank Vogel, the Los Angeles Lakers have finally conducted the first interviews of their ongoing search for their next head coach. And in addition to talking with former Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson and assistant coaches Darvin Ham and Adrian Griffin, the team also squeezed in an interview with former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, according to multiple reports.
Stotts was fired by the Blazers at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, and in 2016, LeBron James argued for him to win Coach of the Year over Steve Kerr.
The Lakers interviewed former Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts for the franchise’s coaching job this week, sources tell ESPN. Stotts made the playoffs in eight straight seasons with Blazers, including two trips to conference semifinals and a berth in conference finals.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 7, 2022
Can confirm that the Lakers interviewed former Portland coach Terry Stotts this week.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) May 7, 2022
The Lakers are conducting their initial wave of interviews over Zoom. They anticipate interviewing 8-10 candidates. Coaches are speaking with Jeanie Buss, Rob Pelinka, Kurt Rambis, Jesse Buss and Joey Buss https://t.co/LMOJ2aePcH— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 7, 2022
While I understand why some might be excited by the inclusion of the younger Buss siblings here — and them getting more say would be potentially great news! — let’s not overreact, because they were involved last time, too.
Most interesting part of this is the younger Buss siblings getting looped in. Jesse has served as director of scouting while Joey has capably run the G League affiliate, but they have largely been excluded from Lakers basketball operations decisions up to now.— Bill Oram (@billoram) April 25, 2019
For whatever it’s worth, Woj did not include the two younger Buss siblings in his ESPN story:
So far, the Lakers’ search process has been methodical. The organization has been interviewing coaches in waves of one or two at a time, sources said — eschewing the traditional format of interviewing numerous candidates prior to paring down the list for follow-up interviews.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is the point man on the organization’s search, but there’s a committee in place to vet the candidates. Besides Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss, advisor Kurt Rambis and former Lakers coach Phil Jackson are also a significant part of the conversations, sources said.
After rumors of Stotts being someone the Lakers would look at first broke, I reached out to Dave Deckard of our sister site, Blazers Edge, for some thoughts on what he’d potentially bring to the table if the Lakers hired him.
You can check out all of Dave’s thoughts on Stotts’ strengths and weaknesses here, but Stotts does — at least on paper — profile as the type of offensive-minded coach who could aid the team’s scoring attack:
Rewind to Stotts’ earlier years in Portland and you’ll find some of the most mobile, beautiful basketball seen since Jack Ramsay patrolled the sidelines here. Playing off of Lillard, Portland scorers got open almost effortlessly. When a player was left unguarded, the pass was sure to follow.
There was a time in Portland when pretty much every player blossomed as a scorer. The ledger of those who played their best seasons under Stotts is far longer than those who didn’t succeed in his system.
A sense of camaraderie hung over the team with Stotts in charge. Good feelings and good spirits became the norm, win or lose. He approached issues with firm optimism. He also took responsibility when things didn’t go right, never foisting it on players or management, though both groups held their share of blame. You wouldn’t think it from seeing him bark at referees or looking like he ate rancid goat after a particularly bad play, but Stotts was one of the most positive people the Portland franchise has ever employed.
However, as our old friend Ben Rosales pointed out on Twitter, while the Lakers may genuinely be considering Stotts for the head coaching job, there is at least one potential bonus reason to get familiar with him:
This feels like a “we’d like to attach you to Ham/Griffin” interview. https://t.co/WpKfrTXR0S— Ben Rosales (@brosales12) May 7, 2022
As you may remember, the Lakers also interviewed Lionel Hollins and Jason Kidd as part of the coaching process where they ultimately settled on Vogel, and later named both men as assistants on his staff. So this could be a situation where even if they do truly consider Stotts for the lead opening, he may be a candidate for an assistant role, too.
This breaking news story may be updated with more information and analysis as it continues to develop. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.