Terry Stotts is a veteran NBA coach with a soft spot for the minor leagues.
Stotts is bringing his Portland Trail Blazers to Boise on Friday for a preseason game against the Utah Jazz. Tipoff is 7 p.m. in CenturyLink Arena.
Stotts was the head coach for the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks before taking over in Portland.
Hes also played in Great Falls, Mont., and coached in Albany, N.Y., and Fort Wayne all former Continental Basketball Association bumps in the road.
I tell you, I enjoy these trips, Stotts said. Theres a convenience of playing in NBA cities, but Ive been in the league for 20 years, and with my ties to the CBA in the early years, I know what its like to have an NBA team come to that city.
Fridays game will be the first NBA game in the Treasure Valley since 2003 when the Jazz beat the Knicks in Taco Bell Arena.
I've done preseason games in Minot (N.D.) and Fargo (N.D.) and Rapid City (S.D.), Stotts said. Ive been all over for these games, and I know how its appreciated by the fans. I enjoy it. Now we dont have to play 41 of them, but I enjoy the preseason and going to these games. For me, it kind of brings me back to my roots a little bit.
And for basketball fans, its a rare opportunity to see an NBA game in Idaho. Portlands roster includes such players as guard Damian Lillard, last seasons NBA rookie of the year, and big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who ranked ninth in scoring last season and was the only player to have averages of at least 21.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game.
Utah counters with players such as 12-year veteran Richard Jefferson and Trey Burke, a rookie guard who led Michigan to the NCAA championship game last season and was named National Player of the Year.
Aldridge sat out of the Blazers preseason opener Monday with a hip injury, but he played in Wednesday nights loss to the Phoenix Suns. Stotts is hopeful that the power forward/center will play in Boise.
From my standpoint, I hope everybody will be available, but we wont know that until Friday, Stotts said.
One player Boise fans wont see Friday is Portlands first-round pick, C.J. McCollum. The guard out of Lehigh, who was selected with the 10th overall pick in this years draft, suffered a broken bone in his foot Saturday during practice and is out indefinitely.
Stotts left the door open for a stint with the Idaho Stampede, Portlands single NBA Development League affiliate, when McCollum is ready to start rehabbing the injury.
I dont think its out of the question, he said. There have been players who have gone to the D-League as a medical rehab situation, and I think that would certainly be under consideration when the time is appropriate.
Four Blazers spent time with the Stampede last season, but none of those played more than four games.
We had such a young roster and there were minutes available for them to play here in Portland, Stotts said. I think this year theres a good chance you will see players stay there longer than just back-to-back games.
There will certainly be more familiarity between Idaho and Portland. Stotts is entering his second season as the Blazers coach and Mike Peck will be at the helm of the Stampede for a second year. Also, it will be the second year the two teams have been sole affiliates.
Chris Langrill: 377-6424