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.”

Kristaps Porzingis: “Players know” he’s All-Star starter

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When picking the East All-Star starters, two of the three frontcourt choices were obvious: LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

For the third slot there were a few players who could make a case. The fans chose Joel Embiid third, Kristaps Porzingis fourth, and Kevin Love fifth. The media also had Embiid third and Porzingis fourth, but Al Horford fifth. That was enough to earn Embiid the starting nod.

The players voted Porzingis third, Embiid fourth, and Andre Drummond fifth. Needless to say, Porzingis thinks the players got it right, as he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

“Players know,” he said. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

If one were cynical, one would note the players also voted for Tyler Cavanaugh and Tyler Zeller, so how much do we trust their vote? Fortunately, we’re above such crass things.

Porzingis is a lock to make his first All-Star Game this year as a reserve (picked by the coaches).

What separated the two? Embiid has been a little more efficient this season, he’s stronger on the boards and had been a bigger defensive presence. Also, the Sixers have a better record than the Knicks, who have stumbled of late. Or, maybe the fans just like Embiid’s big personality more — he’s blowing off Rihanna.

Both of these guys should have a lot of All-Star starts in their future. This year it goes to Embiid.

 

Lakers make 14% of their free throws, win

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Jordan Clarkson‘s free throw rattled around the rim before falling out late in the first quarter. The Los Angeles crowd groaned. The Lakers missed their first five free throws, and the visiting Pacers led by seven.

It appeared to be one of those nights.

And it was. The Lakers shot just 2-for-14 (14%) on free throws Friday. But they still won, 99-86.

That’s the worst free-throw percentage with at least eight attempts by any team and the worst free-throw percentage regardless of attempts by a winning team in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to 1963-64.

Here’s the “leaderboard,” winners in purple and losers in gold:

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The Lakers are shooting an NBA-worst 69% on free throws, but last night took the cake. The offenders:

Knicks’ Jeff Hornacek brushes off concerns about job security

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We saw this pattern earlier this season with the Lakers. Young team gets off to a better-than-expected start, shows real promise, but as things move toward the middle of the season they take a step back. As happens with young, developing teams, they are up and down. However, major market media and an impatient fan base wants to blame someone, so the coach is suddenly discussed as having “lost the locker room” and that his job was in jeopardy (a coach not hired by the current GM). Even though in Luke Walton’s case, it wasn’t (and isn’t).

Now that same pattern has come to New York and the Knicks with Jeff Hornacek. The Knicks started 17-14 and had fans prematurely thinking playoffs thanks to a home-heavy schedule. Reality has hit them the past month.

Hornacek tried to brush off questions about his job security in New York, speaking to Stefan Bondy of the New York Post.

Hornacek also believes he has the backing of GM Scott Perry and president Steve Mills, despite being inherited by them as Phil Jackson’s hire.

“We were talking about rebuilding and we got off to a good start because we had a lot of home games,” Hornacek said. “Scott and Steve, everybody’s still on the same page of trying to get our young guys opportunities. We’re still trying to win games. We still want to establish an identity where defensively we’re going to get after it all the time and we’re building toward that. It’s great to have their support…

“I think the expectations come from the players where all of a sudden you hear them talking about, ‘Oh we can make the playoffs.’ We never said that,” Hornacek said. “We said we want to get better and we want to grow. Part of our talk was you can’t worry about the results. You just got to go out there and if you do your best and try to improve the results will come. When you start thinking about win or lose all of a sudden your mentality becomes different. We got to get back to that.”

Is Hornacek the long-term answer in New York? I don’t know. However, finally unchained from the pseudo-triangle disaster Phil Jackson imposed, he has done a solid job this season, putting Kristaps Porzingis in better spots to lead this roster. The Knicks are projected to win around 38 games at this point (according to Cleaning the Glass), and they have about a 14 percent chance of making the playoffs still (according to fivethiryeight.com). Heading into the season, that would have been about anyone’s best-case scenario for this team.

Not that it matters when you’re coach of the Knicks — job security speculation comes with every paycheck. It just isn’t deserved in this case.

Steve Kerr has “regrets” over time as Suns GM with Mike D’Antoni as coach

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Saturday night, Steve Kerr and Mike D’Antoni will square off as the coaches of the two best teams in the NBA this season (the Warriors and Rockets), teams loaded with offensive talent that play fast — Kerr and D’Antoni have some of the same basic philosophies about the game. Right now they have a mutual admiration society going.

But remember when Kerr took over as the general manager of the “seven seconds or less” Suns? Then traded for Shaq, which was the first step in D’Antono going out the door to New York.

Kerr opened up about his regrets from that era to Mark Medina of the San Jose Mercury News.

“I have some regrets,” Kerr said. “I think we had a few differences that I probably didn’t handle very well as a GM that I could’ve probably handled better, especially given that we really like each other and have a lot of similar viewpoints on the game.”

The Suns were a contender, but not one that could get over the hump of the peak San Antonio Spurs of the mid-2000s (it was more than just the year Robert Horry hip-checked Steve Nash into the boards and A’mare Stoudemire got nailed for leaving the bench). Kerr felt the need to do something, so he traded Shawn Marion for an over-the-hill Shaquille O’Neal who did not at all fit the Suns’ style. That move ended an era, and the next summer D’Antoni signed in New York (with a front office that never gave him the pieces for his style of play).

“I should have let Mike know, ‘It’s okay, keep kicking [butt] and keep going, and we’ll make some moves that aren’t so radical that fit more with who we are as an organization,” Kerr said. “We swung for the fences, and it was not the right move to make as an organization. I didn’t envision that as GM. I didn’t have the macro view of what we needed to do….

“I needed to tell Mike, ‘It’s okay if we don’t win the championship,’” Kerr said. “We were so desperate to win. But not everybody can win. But what you can do is keep putting yourself in a position to get there. Then maybe the breaks fall your way.”

Kerr said he’s matured in the way he views the game and team building since then. That is evident in the way the Warriors have been built, with a big-picture view of everything that gets done — they win not only because they are loaded with talent but how that talent fits together. However, they are really an extension of the changes D’Antoni brought to the NBA in Phoenix, just with better defense and some ridiculous shooters.

After stints in New York and Los Angeles with rosters that were ill-suited for his style, D’Antoni is winning big again in Houston because James Harden was really a point guard and GM Daryl Morey has put the right pieces around him to play D’Antoni’s style.

But once again D’Antoni seems just short of a ring because a legendary team — and Steve Kerr — is in the way.