By Frank McLean
In professional sports when other teams look to try poaching your assistant coaches, or front office personnel it’s considered a compliment. It means your organization has been successful and teams which have not had much success will try to grab someone from a winning team in the hope that they can bring that success to them.
Such is the case of Raptors 905 coach Jerry Stackhouse. The work he is done with the Raptors G-League entry has not gone unnoticed in the front offices of the NBA’s other 29 teams.
After leading the 905 to the championship last season with a roster that had a lot of help from current Raptors Pascal Siakam and Fred Van Fleet, it was almost like they brought in ringers, but that wasn’t the case. It was player development and you can see it in their play on the big club this year.
This season, however, it’s been a different story.
With a roster that did not have half the talent that last year’s squad had, they started 4-9 and then went on a 27-10 tear to finish 31-19 and just one game back of the Westchester Knicks for first place in the Atlantic Division.
After knocking off Grand Rapids in a one game playoff at home they went to Westchester Monday night and beat the Knicks in another one game playoff highlighted by a stifling defense that shutdown the baby Knicks. If they can beat Erie Saturday night they get a shot at back-to-back championships.
As a result, a story in Wednesday’s edition of the New York Post has the Knicks interested in Stackhouse being their next head coach as current head coach Jeff Hornacek’s future on Broadway could be in doubt.
Now if Stackhouse does interview with Knicks it wouldn’t be the first time he looked for work in New York City.
In 2014, after he had retired with the Nets as a player at 38-years-old, Stackhouse interviewed with then Knicks President Phil Jackson and GM Steve Mills as a player development coach and that’s what makes Stackhouse a good fit for a struggling team. He has proven he can teach the skills needed to be successful in the NBA and more importantly, teach you how to win.
The Knicks are a mess and they are going to have to start from scratch and rebuild and Stackhouse fits what they should be looking for in a coach. Unfortunately for the Knicks, as many as 10-other NBA teams looking for a coach in the offseason.
During the G-League Showcase back in January I talked to scouts and front office people from other NBA teams and they were all talking about the work Stackhouse has done. It would be a surprise if Stackhouse does not get a shot at an NBA head coaching spot this summer.
That’s what happens when you are good. Teams come for your people. The Raptors should be flattered.
Veteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.