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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.”

James Harden says playing in every game should matter in MVP voting

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James Harden has played in every Houston Rocket game this season so far. Russell Westbrook has done the same thing for Oklahoma City.

When voters sit down in a few weeks to choose the league’s Most Valuable Player — in one of the most wide-open races in memory, with Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James making legitimate cases as well — Harden says they should take playing every game into account. It’s the latest part of the rest discussion going on around the league. Here’s what Harden told Calvin Watkins of ESPN.

“Yeah, because you’re not leaving your teammates out there to dry, ” Harden said Tuesday morning, before the Rockets’ game against the Warriors. “For me, I worry about always having my teammates’ back and always being out there….

“I’m going to have [my teammates’] back and they know that they have mine as well,” said Harden, who is second in the league in points and first in assists. “For the coaching staff and the fans, especially here in Houston, the front office, I’m here to play.”

Both LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard have had rest nights.

This injects Harden into the rest debate, where recently Harden’s teammate Patrick Beverley came out and said players are “disrespecting the game” when they rest. Gregg Popovich sees more nuance in the debate and certainly backs resting players. On the latest PBT Podcast, former Bull B.J. Armstrong told me that they didn’t have rest days back in his day, but players were kept out of games for things they could play through to get right for the playoffs, it was just listed differently. He added that the rest situation might have been different back in the day if the data about the increased chance of player injuries on the second night of a back-to-back (and it goes up from there with four games in five nights) had been available.

In this case, Harden lobbying for his case in the MVP voting. The thing is, his numbers make the case for him: Harden is averaging 29.4 points per game, leading the league with 11.3 assists a night, and he’s creating the most points per game 27.5 (buckets and direct assists. He has taken on the point guard duties in Mike D’Antoni’s offense and has taken on the largest load on offense he has in his career — and he has continued to do it efficiently.

However, one can make a strong statistical case for Westbrook (who carries a larger load for an OKC team that has less talent around its star than Houston), Leonard (best defender of the group), and LeBron (the Cavs recent struggles may doom his chances).

Little details are going to divide this group, and Harden is trying to get his point out there.

That said, the Rockets are almost certainly locked into the three seed in the West, and once it’s clear they are in that slot team management should discuss giving Harden a night off before the playoffs, to let his body rest. Whether he wants to or not.

Rajon Rondo is hilarious (photo)

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Is Rajon Rondo stubborn? Yes.

Is he petty? Yes.

Is he harsh? Yes.

But the Bulls point guard is also hilarious in his own way.

 

Sean Highkin of The Athletic:

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek: “We can use some more defensive players”

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For all the flipping between the triangle and a more modern offense, despite ball stopping by Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knicks offense is 17th in the NBA for the season. Not good, but the middle of the pack, right around Oklahoma City, Miami, and Memphis — all playoff teams (or potential ones in Miami’s case).

The reason the Knicks season ends in seven games is their defense — 25th in the NBA. Put the triangle in (and get players who fit the system) or don’t, but that’s not the end of the court where the Knicks need to improve. And while system matters on defense, the fact of the matter the Knicks roster is loaded with poor and/or indifferent individual defenders.

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek emphasized all this speaking to ESPN’s Ian Begley.

“I think if you look at our defense this year, we can use some more defensive players,” Hornacek said. “[Management] will look at that. [General manager] Steve [Mills] and [president] Phil [Jackson] and those guys will look at whatever can help us out. We know we need some help there.”

Admitting you have a problem is the first step. Now comes the time for action.

The Knicks are going to have a Top 10 draft pick (currently sixth) plus max-player money in free agency. Also, they are looking to move Anthony this summer (he has a no-trade clause so he will have to agree to it). All of which is to say they have a chance to reshape this roster into one that will have more of a defensive focus. Or any defensive focus for that matter.

It will be interesting to see if the Knicks target more defensive minded free agents this summer, ones who might fit the triangle offense such as Thabo Sefolosha, or to a lesser extent Tony Allen. It’s going to be a fascinating summer in New York.

Master P says Pelicans should hire him as assistant coach: ‘I’m serious’

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Did you know Master P had two NBA contracts?

Percy Miller was with the Hornets before the 1999 season and the Raptors before the 1999-00 season. But he was cut in the preseason both times.

These were mostly publicity stunts. Still, the rapper could actually play a bit. NBA quality? He long insisted yes, though his music career provided a convenient and lucrative excuse for sidetracking his basketball ambitions.

Yet, now, the New Orleans native says he wants back in the NBA with the Pelicans — in a different role.

Master P, via TMZ:

I think they need me to be an assistant coach.

I’m serious about coaching.

I don’t think he’s actually serious.

But if he is, would it be a good idea? Probably not. The Pelicans have real issues integrating Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, and they need devoted coaches, not passing entertainers, to solve this.

Would it be fun? Heck yeah.

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