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.”