According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, former Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts officially interviewed for the Los Angeles Lakers’ job in Southern California on Wednesday.
Stotts is one of three finalists for the job of replacing Frank Vogel on the bench in Los Angeles, alongside current coaches Kenny Atkinson (Golden State Warriors) and Darvin Ham (Arizona Cardinals) (Milwaukee Bucks).
There’s a lot of context here, coming off a 49-loss season. This includes the roster construction behind LeBron James and Russell Westbrook’s standing in Los Angeles.
Stotts is “intrigued” by the prospect of coaching Westbrook, according to Mark Medina of NBA.com.
“Terry Stotts is intrigued with potentially coaching Russell Westbrook and believes he can help him be more effective and comfortable with his role than he was last season.” Medina on Stotts’ interview with the Lakers
Despite persistent reports that the Lakers will cut Westbrook after one bad season, new evidence suggests that they are more likely to keep him. In fact, in conversations with Stotts and company, the Lakers’ brass cites this as a reference point.
Can Terry Stotts Collaborate with Russell Westbrook?
When it comes to point guards, Stotts has a proven track record. After a first-round playoff elimination in 2021, he was fired after leading the Blazers to eight playoff appearances in nine seasons. Scott spent most of his time in the Pacific Northwest assisting Damian Lillard in his development as a future Hall of Fame point guard.
Scotts has already shown that he can work with point guards. He worked with T.J. Ford as the Milwaukee Bucks’ head coach from 2005 to 2007. He helped convert Jason Terry into an All-Star performer during his first term as an NBA head coach with the Atlanta Hawks in 2002-03.
Terry Stotts’s record as coach: 517-486 and has nine playoff appearances
Last season, it seemed as though the Lakers and Westbrook were trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. He simply did not collaborate with players like LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Following Los Angeles’ terrible season, Westbrook took aim at the two.
“When I first got here, I just felt that I never was given a fair chance to be who I needed to be to better help this team.” Russell Westbrook on dynamics with James and Davis
There are other factors at play here, regardless of whether Terry Stotts believes he can help Westbrook turn his career around next season. Aside from the rumored backstage strife, the former MVP is coming off his lowest statistical season since the 2009-10 season.
Stats for Russell Westbrook (2021-22): 18.5 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 7.1 APG, 44% shooting, 30% 3-point
Westbrook, who is 33 years old, has virtually little chance of reverting to the player he was a few years ago. Scotts, at the very least, appears to believe he can get more from the eventual Hall of Famer. It may also influence the Lakers’ decision-making process.