On Friday night, the Portland Trail Blazers “mutually parted ways” with head coach Terry Stotts. He had been with the Blazers since 2012, guiding the team to the playoffs in each of the last eight seasons, but the group, led by star guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, has been unable to get over the hump, topping out at 2019’s conference finals appearance.
It was no surprise that the Blazers elected to shake things up. This offseason will be crucial for the franchise, both to hold on to their current superstar and finding ways to supplement his incredible shotmaking talents. It didn’t take long for Lillard to express exactly who he’d like to see in the role.
The 30-year old six-time All-Star publicly endorsed Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, a former superstar point guard and head coach of the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, to take over the job. “Jason Kidd is the guy I want,” he told Yahoo Sports‘ Chris Haynes after the Stotts news came down.
“Lillard intends to have significant input on the next hire,” Haynes reports. “The 30-year-old superstar is fixated on competing for a championship and is expected to be more vocal with his requests moving forward, sources said.”
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 5, 2021
Damian Lillard has immense respect around the league, as he’s made it clear that he’d rather build a winner in Portland than join other superstars elsewhere. That may be growing less realistic with each passing season.
In Kidd, he sees a fellow star point guard, and Oakland native, who has previous head coaching experience and has reportedly impressed those with the Lakers over the last few years. He took an assistant job with the team, which won the 2020 NBA Title, after losing out on the head coaching job to Frank Vogel.
The two have a great relationship that goes back years. Lillard genuinely respects Kidd’s basketball acumen and knowledge of the game and believes he can help take his game and the team to the next level, sources said.
The Lakers’ front office has raved about Kidd, expressing how he’s been a phenomenal presence in the organization from his innovative ideas to his communicating skills and his ability to rally the troops, sources said.
Lillard is right at the start of a new four-year, $176+ million deal with Portland that is set to keep him on the team through 2025, but we’ve seen other superstars force their way off of teams before the final year of their deal. The Lillard makes enough noise, he could probably get his wish there, though his willingness to endorse a new coach seems to indicate that he still has interest in giving it another shot in Portland.
Jason Kidd was 183-190 as head coach in five years with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks from 2013-18. He reached the playoffs in three of four seasons, before being fired after a 23-22 start with the Bucks in 2017-18.