Now what?: Next steps for Trail Blazers coaches and front office
How the Trail Blazers season came to an end with a sweep in the first round of the playoffs was not how many or maybe anyone thought the postseason would look like for Portland.
After watching a team that had not only had a season-high 13-game winning streak just weeks prior, but had also improved its defense from the 21st best defense rating in the league a year ago to being tied for the 8th best in the league with the Warriors this season, getting swept was not on people's radar when thinking about the Blazers.
To reach the postseason as a number three seed and win the Northwest Division title was a feat that the players, coaching staff and fans were all excited about, yet because of how the Blazers’ first round exit went down, many around Rip City are left trying to figure out what to do now.
In the Trail Blazers exit interviews on Sunday, Blazers President of Basketball operations Neil Olshey was asked how the playoff sweep changes his overall view on the season. Olshey answered with…
"It doesn’t change anything about the season."
Assistant coach Nate Tibbetts
The Trail Blazers have one of the longest tenured coaching staffs in the NBA, with Nate Tibbetts, David Vanterpool, and Dale Osbourne all part of Terry Stotts' original coaching staff back in the 2013-14 season.
Before Tibbets made his way to Portland, he was an assistant coach for the Cavaliers from 2011-2013. He joined the Cavs from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, where he served as head coach for two seasons. He led the 66ers to the NBA D-League playoffs in each season of his two seasons and put together a 64-41 (.610) record.
More on coach Tibbetts
Last summer, Tibbetts was featured on ESPN.com's list of six current assistant coaches who could land head coaching jobs this summer.
Tibbetts was linked to the Memphis coaching vacancy last May. He had reportedly interviewed for the head coaching job before Memphis hired former Heat assistant David Fizdale.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted out on Wednesday of this week, “Sources: Among current assistant coaches expected to be a part of the Hawks search to replace Budenholzer: Charlotte's Stephen Silas, Portland's Nate Tibbetts and David Vanterpool.”
Sam Amick of USA Today followed up Wojnarowski’s tweet with, “Hawks expected to talk to David Fizdale and Nate Tibbetts, among others, I'm told. When Hawks GM Travis Schlenk was asst GM with Golden State, Tibbetts interviewed to be Steve Kerr's top assistant before Mike Brown was hired.”
Assistant coach David Vanterpool
David Vanterpool just wrapped up his sixth regular season with the Blazers.
With both Vanterpool and Tibbetts being linked to head coaching vacancies in the past and now most recently reported to be linked to Atlanta, many are asking, will this be the offseason that Vanterpool or Tibbets land a head coaching gig?
Vanterpool had a previous stop in Oklahoma City as a scout after his playing days.
Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest wrote an article in March of last year, referencing how much Damian Lillard gives credit to Vanterpool’s involvement with the team’s overall defense….
“Vanterpool has led sessions to learn opponents’ plays and play calls… He has emphasized the need to recognize which players are hot or struggling.”
Vanterpool had been linked to the Orlando opening before they eventually hired Frank Vogel in 2016.
Head coach Terry Stotts
In May of 2016, the Trail Blazers agreed to a contract extension with coach Terry Stotts that runs through 2020.
The extension adds three additional seasons past Stotts' previous deal, which was set to expire after the 2016-17 season. In the press release that announced the extension, Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey said, "Terry has been an outstanding partner and this extension represents our desire to build a model of stability and consistency."
As a 22-year coaching veteran, Portland introduced Stotts as the franchise’s 14th head coach back on August 7, 2012.
Prior to coming to Portland, Stotts was as an assistant coach with Dallas for a total of four seasons from 2008-2012.
Since Stotts as been at the helm in Portland
In his six seasons as head coach of the Trail Blazers, Stotts holds an overall record of 272-220.
He has been named Western Conference Coach of the Month five separate times in his Portland tenure and he has also taken the Blazers to five straight playoff appearances. Yes, the only season Stotts and the Blazers have not reached the postseason was in Stott's first year as head coach.
At this year’s exit interviews, Damian Lillard had this to say about his coach:
“Coach Stotts has done a great job since Day 1. We’ve been in the playoffs five years straight."
While, Jusuf Nurkic added this about Stotts:
"I think, overall, very positive. I love Stotts and enjoy playing for him ... I think he’s a great communicator. But I feel even he didn’t expect to lose 4-0 in the playoffs, which sometimes can be tough. People don’t understand that can be part of the life."
President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey
It was in August of last year, that Portland Trail Blazers President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey agreed to an extension that will keep him under contract through 2021.
Portland hired Olshey in 2012 away from the LA Clippers.
Olshey has twice been voted in the top three for the NBA's Executive of the Year during his time in Portland.
At the Blazers exit interviews last Sunday, Neil Olshey's message to people calling for huge changes to the roster was…
"Where were all these people that wanted these sweeping changes 10 days ago. ... It’s our job to be measured. And not overreact."
Olshey’s draft picks in Portland
1st Round Damian Lillard
1st Round Meyers Leonard
2nd Round Will Barton
2nd Round Tyshawn Taylor (traded to Brooklyn)
1st Round CJ McCollum
2nd Round Jeff Withey
2nd Round Grant Jeffett (traded to Oklahoma City)
2nd Round Marko Todorovic
1st Round Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (trade to Brooklyn)
1st Round picks (15th and 20th) were traded to the Sacramento Kings for their 10th pick to select Zach Collins
1st Round Caleb Swanigan
A few off the latest Blazer trades under Olshey
At the time, who would've known that Olshey's trade for center Jusuf Nurkic last February would've helped to reshape the Blazers?
That February trade was a big financial decision, intially, with Mason Plumlee set to enter free agency. Acquiring Nurk gave the Trail Blazers a starting center at a low cost,.
In 2015, Olshey traded a 2016 first-round pick (lottery protected) along with reserve Will Barton to Denver in exchange for Arron Afflalo.
This season, the Blazers received the draft rights to Milovan Rakovic from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Noah Vonleh and cash to help the Blazers get under the salary cap.