Milwaukee Bucks fans were shocked on Thursday to discover that assistant head coach Terry Stotts had decided to abruptly resign one week before the 2023-24 NBA regular season began. Stotts was hired to be in charge of the offense under rookie head coach Adrian Griffin. This was to be Stotts’ third stint with the Bucks as a coach.
Stotts’ resignation was met with a great deal of negative comments from Bucks fans, many wondering if there is an issue within the organization that led him to quit. Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported:
“A league source said that after going through the bulk of training camp and four preseason games a fit never materialized between the coaches.”
Griffin, a younger defensive-minded coach, had hoped that the 65-year old Stotts, an offensive-minded coach, would be a good fit on his staff. Obviously, the two had differences of opinion that prevented that fit from happening.
While it may be easy to point fingers and have negative reactions, it is important to keep in mind that the two coaches handled their business in private and made the decision before the season started. While it is true that losing the leader of the offense so close to the start of the regular season is not ideal, it is far preferable to a season’s worth of rumors and reports of infighting on the coaching staff.
Though unfortunate, Bucks star Damian Lillard, who played for Stotts while the latter was the head coach of the Portland Trailblazers, also does not see the resignation as something that will hold the team back.
Milwaukee Bucks Star Damian Lillard Addresses Terry Stotts’ Resignation
When Lillard was first traded to Milwaukee, he credited Stotts with helping him feel more welcome and comfortable with his new team. Understandably, the concern among fans was how Stotts’ departure might affect Lillard’s attitude towards his new team.
Lillard’s comments to the media following practice on Thursday, however, should put those concerns at ease:
“Everybody was kind of surprised by it. It kind of came out of nowhere. I’ve been in this league long enough to know that these types of things happen. Everything continues, so you’ve got to kind of process things like this and other things that may come up and continue to move forward.
“For me, knowing Terry as long as I’ve known him -– playing for him for nine years and him also making this transition for me easier just having a familiar face be such a huge part of it — was a good thing. I think now that I’m settled in, to see him go is unfortunate. It’s sad to see him go. But like I said, everything is still moving forward.
“It didn’t come with a lot of drama. Me knowing him so well, it just wasn’t a dramatic, big deal. It was just a decision he had come to. It happened early, and it wasn’t loud. It was just abrupt. I don’t think it will be much of a distraction at all.”
The temptation for fans, if the Bucks’ offense looks sloppy early in the season, is going to be to blame Griffin/Stotts for whatever situation led to this development. However, it is also important to note that the Bucks will have two new starters in 2023-24: Lillard and [presumably] Malik Beasley.
It is reasonable to expect the team to need a few weeks of the regular season to completely gel and start rolling. Even if Stotts had not resigned, this would probably still be the case.