It’s a homecoming of sorts for Terry Stotts to take his Blazers into Dallas, the place where he spent the previous four seasons and was part of the Mavs’ championship in 2011. It will feel warm and familiar.
But it is also the place where Stotts’ view of the game took a transformation that could make him more successful in his third time around than in his previous two stints as coach at Atlanta (52-85, .380) and Milwaukee (63-83, .432).
More than anything else, coach Rick Carlisle is about defense.
“I think the background having been with Rick the last four years kind of opened my eyes to another approach to the game,” Stotts said. “Obviously, being with George (Karl) as long as I was, that was one view. To have a different perspective that was with Rick kind of expanded my horizons.
“Rick’s philosophy that he had in Detroit, Indiana and Dallas I’ve very much embraced. His approach to the defensive end really changed my approach.
“He’s pretty meticulous in his approach to the game and his approach to the team. Defensively, it really changed the way I not only approached it philosophically, but how you coach in practice, breaking down things a little bit more. Being a little bit more detailed about you want to get accomplished.”
Stotts wants the Blazers out of the methodical, usually predictable style of offense that they played under Nate McMillan. That way oftenlead to complaints from their best player, LaMarcus Aldridge, about a lack of touches. Through the early going, Aldridge’s shots are up six per game from last season. Stotts is also looking for them to be more open and creative offensively even though he’s got a rookie point guard in Damian Lillard. Early dividends have been paid with two wins in the Blazers’ first three games.
This time he is also putting more of an emphasis on direct communication with his players.
“I communicate more with video, with text, with whatever it is,” Stotts said. “Especially with a young team, I think it’s important that I touch as many players as I can every day. It takes time and it takes work … but it pays dividends in the end.”
So while he’ll take a moment or two to look back at the four satisfying seasons spent in Dallas, it will likely be that new-found appreciation for defense that he stuffed into his luggage that Blazers fans could appreciate down the line.