Adidas Eurocamp - Day 2

Jerry Stackhouse eyes NBA coaching job, has met with Phil Jackson about being an assistant with Knicks

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TREVISO, Italy — Jerry Stackhouse was in attendance for day one of adidas Eurocamp on Saturday, but he wasn’t there simply as a former NBA player looking to inspire the more than 40 international prospects working out for a large group of general managers and scouts.

Stackhouse, now a year removed from a stellar professional career that lasted 18 seasons, is looking to get into coaching.

He came to Italy as the head coach of the USA Select team, which features a roster full of under-18 talent that will likely land multiple players in the NBA two or three years from now. Stackhouse has been coaching at the AAU level for five years, and has developed an increasing amount of passion for the profession as he’s gained more experience. But like most players, he wasn’t all that certain that this would be his calling once his professional career was finished.

“As a player, I had never thought that I really wanted to coach,” Stackhouse said. “Then I was watching my kids playing on the eighth grade team, and the guy was just rolling the ball out there, and they weren’t really learning. That spurred me to get into it, and I love it. Those last three or four years that I played, I felt like that was still my role. As soon as the season was over I was headed to the AAU circuit.”

Stackhouse may soon be headed back to the NBA.

His desire is to eventually become a head coach, but he wouldn’t mind starting out as an assistant, even at the college or high school level if that’s what it takes. He had an offer to join at least one team last season, and met with Phil Jackson recently to discuss joining the staff of the Knicks.

“I’d like to coach at the pro level,” Stackhouse said. “I had some dialogue with Atlanta last summer. I think I could have been on their staff behind the bench last year, but right out of playing, I just wanted to kind of take some time off. I met with Phil a couple weeks ago about possibly about doing something with their staff.”

The Knicks remain an option, but with the head coaching position not yet filled, there’s some uncertainty there that needs to be settled before it can become a bit more plausible.

“It’s a possibility,” he said. “I think [Jackson] is still figuring it out. He doesn’t know who the head coach is going to be, but I think after that is settled, there could be some realistic possibilities.”

Stackhouse has played for a relative ton of head coaches throughout his career, and has taken things from all of them to build his own style. But he said he’s most comfortable with principles that he learned from his college coach at the University of North Carloina, Dean Smith.

“I think everything goes back, to me, to Dean Smith,” he said. “I gravitated to coaches that had that same philosophy, especially on the defensive end. Obviously on the offensive end sharing the ball, but defensively keeping people out of your middle, sending it down to the baseline and relying on your help.”

He mentioned  Avery Johnson, Gregg Popovich, Larry Brown and Doug Collins as being coaches whose systems he would most like to emulate, but also was open to taking something from the more modern analytic side after spending time with Rick Carlisle in Dallas.

“With Rick Carlisle and his analytics of the game, it drove me nuts as a player,” Stackhouse said. “He wanted to run this play that hadn’t been working in the game, because for him it was a 70-something percent play. Now I understand that I want to go with a 70 percent play, and just because it doesn’t work it still is a good play for us.”

Stackhouse is hopeful that showcasing himself in front of team personnel at adidas Eurocamp will help them see that this is something he truly wants to do, and not just because his playing days are done.

“This here is a great opportunity for me,” he said. “Everybody’s here, getting a chance to see my passion for it. You run into that bias sometimes, where the feeling is that guys want to coach just because they can’t play anymore. I think my last five years showed that’s not the case. I really have a passion and love for teaching kids, and I look at NBA players now as kids.”

Stackhouse would obviously love to jump right into a head coaching chair, but he realizes that’s a bit of a long shot, despite the fact that things seem to be trending that way, with multiple former players now getting those chances. All he wants is that initial opportunity, and he believes the rest will take care of itself.

“The perfect blueprint would be Doc Rivers and Mark Jackson, do the broadcasting and then fall into the right seat, but it doesn’t happen that way for everybody,” Stackhouse said. “I would love to have that opportunity to come right out of playing and get a chance at a seat, but everybody’s path is a little bit different. We’ll see.

“If I get my feet in the door and show what I can do, I could ascend pretty fast.”

D’Angelo Russell says it’s not easy being patient, waiting his turn behind Kobe

D'Angelo Russell Kobe Bryant
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TORONTO — For the rest of this season, the Los Angeles Lakers are Kobe Bryant‘s team.

Some Lakers’ fans have questioned why Byron Scott is still the coach despite an 11-44 record, and in part it’s because he gives deference to Kobe other coaches might not. Scott was brought in to help sell the Lakers’ history during the final years of Kobe’s career, he has done that. He lets the veteran Kobe do things he will not allow anyone else on the team to do.

Meanwhile, the next generation of Lakers are trying to wait patiently for their turn.

But when asked All-Star Weekend about playing with Kobe (who often has the ball in his hands), Lakers’ rookie point guard D'Angelo Russell didn’t sound patient.

“Honestly, it’s hard,” Russell said of playing with Kobe. “It’s not easy. He’s a guy that’s earned every shot he’s taken, earned every minute he’s given, so you feel like being a rookie, but you feel like you’ve worked to be in his position so early but you’ve just got to be patient.”

There are a couple ways you can look at this.

You can see it as a rookie hungry for minutes, for touches, for the chance to learn by doing. You should like that he has that drive, that confidence that he wants the rock. Russell has had the ball in his hands probably since fourth grade, being bumped down the pecking order — even for Kobe — is an adjustment.

Or, you can see this as a rookie who is a bit full of himself, a bit overconfident, someone who turns the ball over too much and needs to earn those touches. This is more Scott’s thinking.

I’d say a guy that is overconfident as a rookie and wants the ball in his hands sooner rather than later sounds a lot like Kobe.

 

DeMarcus Cousins has spent All-Star Weekend playing defense on trade, George Karl rumors

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 13: DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings handles the ball during the Taco Bell Skills Challenge as part of NBA All-Star 2016 on February 13, 2016 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
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TORONTO — DeMarcus Cousins is an All-Star and he just wants to enjoy it. Hang out with other elite players, take part in the Skills Competition, have dinner at Sotto Sotto, play in the ASG itself, chill with friends. Chill being the operative word considering the weather.

But for parts of the weekend, he has had to play defense, swatting away attempts to get him to slam coach George Karl or talk trade rumors that have him leaving Sacramento. Mention his friend Isaiah Thomas making it to All-Star Game and you get the gregarious Cousins, but when the other topics come up you can feel his frustration, and hear it in his clipped answers.

“First of all, I can’t control the trade (rumors) and I can’t control if I’m traded or not…” Cousins said. “But I do want to be in Sacramento, and I know everybody in Sacramento knows that.”

Cousins isn’t getting traded. Teams may call the Kings, but they get shot down quickly (then those teams leak the rumor they called, making them look good to their fan base for trying). For one, the Kings have a franchise cornerstone piece under a reasonable contract, that’s not someone you trade unless forced to. Second, owner Vivek Ranadive loves him. Third, and this is key, the Kings open a new arena in downtown Sacramento next season — you don’t trade your best and most popular player, the face of your marketing program in the city, while you’re trying to sell luxury boxes and sponsorships in a new arena.

Cousins has also batted down questions attempting to get him to slam George Karl.

“I can go long term with any coach, but that’s not my decision….” Cousins said. “He’s a free, open-minded coach, he lets his players play. I think every player appreciates that.”

He was more direct with deserving new basketball Hall of Fame journalist David Aldridge of NBA.com in a video (and he’s laughing more and in more of a joking mood in the video than how this quote reads):

“I’m tired of it. Stop trying to make a story out of it, we’re fine. Our only goal this season is to make the playoffs. That’s it. All the other stuff, just stop, it’s not necessary.”

Undoubtedly there is some tension in and around the organization with Karl, although he will be around through the end of the season. However, the one thing that was clear with this team going back to Summer League — when the core guys bonded on a plane trip together to Las Vegas (and doing the other things one might do in Vegas) — the locker room is pretty solid.

“Throughout all this, the one thing that’s been good about the whole situation is the guys in the locker room stay together,” Cousins said. “There hasn’t been any separation.”

It seems Karl has never found a way to reach and inspire that group.

Ask Cousins about the rest of the season and you get some variation of “just stay positive.” He admits that’s not been easy after some tough losses of late, but it’s what they need to do to make a run.

“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the season, but just find a way to remain positive and get over the hump,” he said. 

That may be easier said than done.

But, at least, Cousins will get the chance to enjoy All-Star weekend.

Can we just relive that epic Dunk Contest one more time? Here’s the mixtape.

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TORONTO — Talking to NBA people, fans, and media around Toronto Sunday it seems every conversation starts with some version of “last night’s Dunk Contest was INSANE!

Because it was.

Andre Drummond threw down an impressive two-hand power slam with an assist from soccer playing Steve Nash. Will Barton‘s first dunk might have won him the contest in some weaker years. And we’re not even talking about them because of the eye-popping show that Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine put on.

Before we move on and talk trade rumors or actual All-Star Game, or whatever is coming next, can we just bask in the joy of that dunk contest one more time? The fine folks at NBA.com put together this mixtape version of the Dunk Contest, I’m passing it along.

Savor this people, it doesn’t get any better than what we witnessed Saturday night.

Michael Jordan to Klay Thompson: “Go ahead and break” Bulls’ 72-win record

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 25:  Owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan, watches on during their game against the Washington Wizards at Time Warner Cable Arena on November 25, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NBA - NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Barring a major injury, it seems almost inevitable at this point that the Warriors will surpass the 1996 Bulls’ record of 72 wins in a season and vault themselves into the conversation of the greatest NBA teams in history. All year, members of that ’96 Bulls team have weighed in comparing the teams, but one guy who hasn’t given his thoughts publicly is Michael Jordan.

Apparently, during All-Star Weekend in Toronto, Jordan gave Klay Thompson his blessing for the Warriors to go for 73. Via CSN’s Rosalyn Gold-Onwude:

Not that the Warriors need anybody’s permission to go after the record, obviously. But it had to be cool for Thompson to hear directly from Jordan that he respects what the Warriors are doing and wants them to break his own record. In all likelihood, they’ll do it.