Mark Cuban comes off as one of the most loyal owners in the NBA.
After the Mavericks’ Game 7 loss to the Clippers, which saw them blow a 2-0 and 3-2 lead, the job security of head coach Rick Carlisle was questioned after the game.
Instead of letting rumors swirl, Cuban ended any speculation immediately and re-committed to Carlisle, who has two years remaining on his contract.
Carlisle is the third-longest tenured coach in the NBA.
And Cuban does right by his guys. Whether it was doing everything possible for Dirk Nowitzki to have a chance at winning a ring, guaranteeing JJ Barea’s contract before releasing him, or getting Luka Doncic a No. 2 option once he realized he had a Hall of Fame talent.
Saying “the grass is rarely greener on the other side” is a line that can have a deep meaning in sports.
Too often coaches are relieved of their duties when a team underperforms instead of poor roster construction being taken into account. Dallas’ roster has gone through many makeovers since their 2011 championship, but Carlisle was the main cog.
Why fire Carlisle when he wasn’t working with great teams in a loaded conference?
Now, he has Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingas, players he continues to get comfortable with.
There’s a lot to be learned from Cuban’s comments and the Portland Trail Blazers could take some notes.
After nine seasons the team moved on from Terry Stotts, an assistant on the Mavericks title team.
Stotts is one of the greatest coaches in team history, and a legitimate argument could be made that he's No. 2 behind Jack Ramsay.
He inherited a team coming off a lottery season that allowed them to draft Damian Lillard and paired him with LaMarcus Aldridge.
From that 2012-’13 season to now, the Blazers made the playoffs eight straight seasons, had three 50-win seasons, made it out the first-round three times, and made the 2019 Western Conference Finals.
What more was Stotts supposed to accomplish on a team that had injury issues and was led by Lillard and CJ McCollum in the post-Aldridge era?
With the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs running the conference for most of Stotts’ time with the team, what he was able to achieve with that team is an accomplishment in itself.
The Blazers were never a legitimate title-contending team. They were a team someone like Charles Barkley would believe in during the fall only to be disappointed come the spring.
Under Stotts, the Blazers were a team that could maybe catch a few breaks and make a deep run like 2019, but not a team that could meet Larry O’Brien.
That’s not on Stotts. That’s on management.
The city of Portland isn’t a destination location for high-name free agents and they’re at a disadvantage when their biggest acquisitions have to be via trade. Depending on trades can deplete a team’s future for short-term gain, as the team showed trading a first-round pick for Robert Covington.
A legitimate argument could’ve been made to fire Stotts after Portland’s loss to Denver in the first-round without Jamal Murray and Will Barton. Losing to a team without two starters is embarrassing, but is that really on the coach?
Stotts is coaching the talent the team acquires for him, that’s his job.
Too often in professional sports coaches are scapegoats, but to Portland’s defense, they did go almost a decade with the same main man. The problem is it could’ve been longer.
There are some instances where a new coach fixes a team immediately as Mike Budneholzer did with the Milwaukee Bucks and Steve Kerr with the Golden State Warriors.
Although those sound good and bring optimism to a team, a look in the mirror is required.
An identical roster entering next season with healthy Los Angeles Lakers and Warriors teams, the Los Angeles Clippers if Kawhi Leonard returns, and a Nuggets team with an emerged Michael Porter Jr. and a healthy Jamal Murray, where exactly does that leave Portland?
Exactly where they currently are unless roster changes are made. That was never on Stotts.
Cuban’s right, the grass isn’t always greener when making a coaching change.
Time will tell if the Blazers made the right or wrong decision in moving on from Stotts.