Dean Smith’s coaching tree may add another limb before next season begins. Shams Charania of Yahoo! reported yesterday that the Toronto Raptors had interviewed Jerry Stackhouse for their current head coaching vacancy. It was his fourth head coaching interview since the NBA season ended, having already met with the Charlotte Hornets, Orlando Magic, and New York Knicks (the Knicks and Hornets have since filled their coaching vacancies). His name has also been floated around regarding the Detroit Pistons’ vacancy. Clearly he’s an emerging talent in the coaching world.
Stackhouse spent the previous two seasons as the head coach for Toronto's G-League affiliate, the Raptors 905. With only two years roaming the sidelines — on any level — it’s fair to question if he’s ready to be one of 30 NBA head coaches. Former players lacking head coaching experience have a history of inconsistent performances and falling short of expectations. Jason Kidd, a future Hall of Famer, is the most recent example after stints with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks. However, Stackhouse’s two years resulted in two championship appearances and one title.
That’s a notable accomplishment for teams looking for a young head coach who can relate to today’s players. The NBA’s minor league system doesn’t lend itself to consistency or year-to-year success. Constant call-ups, roster turnover, and trying to meet player developmental goals of the parent NBA team present a distinctly unique challenge. It’s a good bet that the 18 year veteran and two-time NBA all-star had plenty of lessons from his not-so-distant playing days to help navigate that hectic environment.
The Raptors fired head coach Dwane Casey after the top-seeded Raptors were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the NBA playoffs. If Stackhouse is offered and accepts the position, there will be plenty of talent to find immediate success. It can only be an advantage that Stackhouse has coached many of the current Raptors players as they traveled through the G-League the past two years.
Regardless of the outcome, it’s fair to assume Stackhouse will be on an NBA sideline as a head coach in the coming years. That’s a thought that UNC fans should get excited about. It’s always good to see Dean Smith’s and UNC’s legacy continuing within the game. Now, if only he would add Rasheed Wallace as his assistant coach... Additionally, recall that Stackhouse has referred to UNC’s head coaching gig as his “dream job.” Roy Williams isn’t getting any younger, and it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye out for members of the Carolina family who could be next up.
While you ponder those final thoughts, enjoy this collection of Stackhouse highlights from his days at UNC.