Avery Johnson, the former Nets head coach now at Alabama, said Jerry Stackhouse’s grooming as a future NBA head man started in Brooklyn. Now Johnson feels Stackhouse is ready to take over the Knicks.
Johnson, who coached Stackhouse from 2004-08 in Dallas, summoned him to Brooklyn to finish out his 18-year playing career in 2012-13 — more as an unofficial player-coach than as a key rotation piece.
“The tail end of our tenures in Dallas, I knew coaching was in his future,’’ Johnson told The Post in a phone interview Monday. “When I brought him to the Nets, it wasn’t necessarily to help us on the court. I was trying to help him be a leader in the locker room and continue his thought process for something he wanted to do.’’
For the past two seasons, Stackhouse has been a coaching stud in the G-League for the Raptors — a move Johnson recommended.
He’s become a hot commodity at 43 and will interview with the Knicks early this week.
Johnson said he made it a point to watch Stackhouse’s G-League squad.
“You’ve seen his impact with the style of his team — he has very good communications skills with his players, definitely has a presence about him,’’ Johnson said. “The X’s and O’s, that’s easy for him. He understands the game. His team is prepared, good spacing and he’s a more balanced coach. Don’t want to box him as a defensive or offensive coach.”
Sources have indicated Orlando is hotter on Stackhouse’s trail, and he reportedly has an interview there shortly. Charlotte has expressed interest, too. Knicks GM Scott Perry was in the Pistons’ front office, overlapping for two seasons when Stackhouse played in Detroit.
“He always been a student of the game,’’ Johnson said. “In Brooklyn, we continued to spend time and talk about philosophies, situations, talked about a lot of other coaches he played for, even in college, that helped shape him. He had lot of questions and wanted to spend time behind the scenes talking about the craft of coaching.”
Stackhouse, after being a Raptors assistant for one season, guided the Raptors 905 to the 2017 G-League title, posting a 39-11 clip and winning Coach of the Year. This season, Stackhouse guided the G-League Raptors to the finals, ousting the league-best Westchester Knicks in the conference semifinals.
It has opened the eyes of Perry, who stated Thursday NBA head-coaching experience isn’t a must.
The roster of coaches Stackhouse played for is sensational, starting with UNC’s Dean Smith before NBA stalwarts Don Nelson, Rick Carlisle, Erik Spoelstra, Doug Collins, Alvin Gentry, P.J. Carlesimo and Scott Skiles. He’s also played alongside Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade.
One NBA scout who does a lot of work on the G-League circuit noted Stackhouse helped improve Toronto’s newly vaunted bench. Youngsters Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Delon Wright spent time with Stackhouse on last season’s Raptors 905 club before making an impact in Toronto.
It wasn’t the best move financially, but Johnson advised Stackhouse to go G-League and leave Dwane Casey’s Toronto staff.
“He talked about what he needed — stay on the bench in the NBA or make that G-League jump,’’ Johnson said. “Mission accomplished. I told him he needed to get head-coaching experience, the way the G-League is developing. It was the perfect spot, and he embraced it. It wasn’t about the money but the experience.‘’
As a player, Stackhouse wasn’t the most vocal leader, Johnson said, but he was among the most influential.
“He’s a guy who can fire a team up when they need to get fired up, but I don’t think he’ll be a screamer,’’ Johnson said. “He’s going to be a better teacher. When he talked, you listened — those kind of guys. Didn’t overtalk. He picked the right time.”
The Steve Mills-Perry tandem demands their new coach be able to deal well with the front office, which wants to help coach the team. Johnson said that could be Stackhouse’s biggest strength. He recently completed the Harvard Business School executive education program on the Business of Entertainment, Media, and Sports.
“He’ll be a good fit for somebody,’’ Johnson said. “ I hope he gets one of these openings.”
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