Without showing any signs of bias, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts is the odds-on favorite to win this year’s NBA Coach of the Year Award.
“I do think he’s the frontrunner for Coach of the Year because of how that team has progressed over the course of the season,” Carlisle said before Sunday’s game at American Airlines Center. “If I was voting, he would get my vote, hands down, and there are a lot of coaches doing great jobs this year.”
I don’t think there’s anybody in the basketball world that isn’t impressed by the job that he’s doing.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle on Blazers coach Terry Stotts
Carlisle and Stotts are close friends. In fact, Stotts was the Mavs’ offensive coordinator under Carlisle when Dallas captured the 2011 NBA title.
The defensive coordinator on that championship team was Dwane Casey — coach of a Toronto Raptors team that’s No. 2 in the Eastern Conference. So why isn’t Carlisle politicking for Casey?
“I think there should be a Western [Conference Coach of the Year] and an Eastern [Conference Coach of the Year], and if I had a vote on that I’d vote for that,” Carlisle said. “They’ve both done remarkable jobs, but at the beginning of the year I don’t think anybody saw Portland as a threat to be a playoff team with all the changes.”
Eleven players on the Blazers’ 15-man roster are in their fourth season or less, and Portland has four new players in its starting lineup from last year. But the Blazers are 36-35 after Sunday’s 132-120 overtime loss to Dallas, and are holding the No. 6 seed in the rugged West.
When you go young with all rookies, you’re going to get thrashed. But the way [the Blazers] did it, and the way Terry has done it and evolved it, has been a tremendous job.
“It’s one thing to go young,” Carlisle said. “When you go young with all rookies, you’re going to get thrashed. But the way [the Blazers] did it, and the way Terry has done it and evolved it, has been a tremendous job.”
Stotts on Matthews
Stotts was on the fence Sunday when asked if he was surprised that Mavs guard Wesley Matthews was on the court opening day in October after undergoing left Achilles surgery last March.
In my time with Wes, the one thing I learned was not to count him out.
Terry Stotts on Mavs guard Wesley Matthews
“Because of that injury, it’s a surprise; because it’s Wes, no,” Stotts said. “He said that he was going to be back for the opening game, and he was. In my time with Wes, the one thing I learned was not to count him out.”
Matthews spent five seasons in Portland before signing a four-year, $70 million contract with the Mavs last summer.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban has enjoyed what his club has gotten out of center Zaza Pachulia, who has 25 double-doubles this season but lately has seen his minutes diminish.
“He’s first class in every which way,” Cuban said. “There aren’t many guys with a bigger head, there aren’t many guys with a bigger heart and there aren’t many guys with more class than Zaza.
“I say big on the head because I wear a size 8 hat, and my son, who at 6 years old, wears a size 8-and-a-half. You got to hold those brains somewhere, so we’re all part of the same club — The Big Head Club.”
Forward Chandler Parsons missed Sunday’s game with a sore right hamstring.
Parsons sustained the injury Friday against Golden State, and the Mavs aren’t sure how long he’ll be sidelined.