Bucks to introduce new coach at news conference

Updated: July 8, 2005, 10:01 PM ET
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE -- Terry Stotts got the job he first sought two years ago.

The Milwaukee Bucks hired Stotts as their new head coach Friday after growing tired of waiting for leading candidate Flip Saunders, who is apparently keeping his sights on the Pistons' coaching job should Larry Brown leave Detroit.

The 47-year-old Stotts, whose deal includes three guaranteed years and club options for two more, replaces Terry Porter, the man who beat him out for the job two summers ago.

"If you'd asked me two years ago, I really did want the job, but it's so much sweeter this way, and I think it's a better situation," Stotts said. "I think the Bucks are getting a better coach now than they would have gotten two years ago. ... The team is a better team.

"Life's kind of funny, but I think it's worked out better for the Bucks and it's certainly worked out best for me."

Porter was unexpectedly fired June 22, just days before Milwaukee chose Andrew Bogut with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft and six weeks after general manager Larry Harris had declared Porter would return next season.

Harris said he wanted somebody with more experience coaching young players. Stotts actually has less head-coaching experience than Porter's two years. He coached the Atlanta Hawks for 1½ seasons after serving under George Karl as an assistant for nine years, including four in Milwaukee, from 1998-2002.

With a middling roster, Stotts, who was an assistant with the Golden State Warriors last season, went 52-85 in Atlanta after replacing Lon Kruger in 2002-03.

"Obviously, we will miss him," said Chris Mullin, the Warriors executive vice president of basketball operations. "Terry deserves this opportunity and will do an outstanding job. We wish him well."

Porter went 71-93 in Milwaukee, reaching the playoffs in his first season but slipping to 30-52 last year when injuries and trades prevented him from putting together a cohesive lineup.

After the Bucks fired Porter and ate his $1.5 million salary, attention immediately focused on Saunders, who is due $5.5 million from the Minnesota Timberwolves next season, and eight-year NBA coaching veteran Doug Collins, who decided instead to stay in his television analyst job.

Both Harris and team owner Herb Kohl said it was a mistake to think the Bucks settled on Stotts.

"He is in Milwaukee well-known, well-liked and well-respected," Kohl said.

And Harris said that "in NBA circles, Terry Stotts has a name."

"What he went through in Atlanta will make him a better coach today, tomorrow and next year and for many years to come," Harris added. "So we didn't settle. I didn't settle. We chose the right guy. Just be patient."

Kohl added, "Vince Lombardi was a complete unknown when he was hired."

Stotts went 2-0 while filling in for Karl in Milwaukee in December 2001. Former Bucks stars Glenn Robinson, Sam Cassell and Ray Allen appreciated his low-key approach that contrasted sharply with Karl's sometimes combative coaching style.

Stotts also got along well with Michael Redd, the prized free agent guard who announced Thursday he would stay in Milwaukee and sign a six-year deal worth at least $90 million.

Stotts inherits a much more talented roster than the one he would have gotten two years ago.

In addition to Redd and Bogut, he'll have starting forwards Desmond Mason and Joe Smith and possibly point guard T.J. Ford, who was cleared for full contact basketball last month after missing the last 1½ seasons with a spinal injury.

Stotts' ties to Milwaukee go deeper than his previous stint with the Bucks.

He spent part of his childhood in Wisconsin and said the first NBA game he attended was when his dad took him to a Bucks game in 1969.

"It means a lot to come back."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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