Stotts tells Karl to 'stay in his own lane' after Lillard criticism

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Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts hit back at George Karl over his criticism of Damian Lillard.

Karl continues to ruffle feathers of NBA players, but the latest player he criticised is one he never even coached.

While promoting his book, 'Furious George', the former NBA coach took an unsolicited shot at Trail Blazers point guard Lillard in a lengthy Q&A with New York Magazine published Wednesday.

"I was watching the Portland Trail Blazers play, and I was trying to figure out, what the hell is wrong with this team? My conclusion is that Damian Lillard is getting too much attention," Karl said of the 13-20 Blazers, who played the Sacramento Kings Wednesday.

"Who controls the team? The coach and the point guard," Karl added. "And that team is not working. I think their coach, Terry Stotts, is a great coach. So I'm going to say the problem is Lillard. They were a together, connected, committed team last year. This year they're not. What changed?"

Stotts worked under Karl as an assistant with the Seattle SuperSonics and Milwaukee Bucks, but did not appreciate Karl criticising a player he does not know.

"I owe a lot to George. I got my start in coaching with George," Stotts told reporters Wednesday. "I wouldn't be here if not for him. But when it comes to my team and my players, he needs to stay in his own lane.

"He doesn't know Damian Lillard. He doesn't know how coachable he is. He doesn't know what a great team-mate he is. He doesn't know how much Damian cares about winning and how important he is to this franchise. I thought his comments, however well intended they may have been - which I can't understand - I can't tolerate."

Lillard's agent, Aaron Goodwin, was a little more stern while defending his client, who sat out Wednesday's game with a sprained ankle. 

"I have always loved and respected George, way back when he coached Gary Payton. But with that observation, he sounds like an idiot," Goodwin wrote in a statement to ESPN. "He couldn't get anyone in this league to agree with him on that assessment. If it's either the coach or the point guard, the point guard runs the coach's plays. I guess that explains him becoming a writer."

As for the 26-year-old Lillard, an All-Star in 2014 and 2015, he handled Karl's comments with humour, taking a veiled shot at the former coach.