Person of Interest: Raptors coaching candidate Jerry Stackhouse

Jerry Stackhouse, head coach of Raptors 905 . (Carlos Osorio/AP)

When the news came down that the Toronto Raptors canned head coach Dwane Casey, the basketball world was quick to conjure up names of potential replacements.

One of the more obvious candidates that came to mind was Jerry Stackhouse, successful head coach of the Raptors G-League affiliate and former NBA all-star.

Stackhouse was identified by Raptors president Masai Ujiri as one of three internal candidates the club would give a serious look at to fill their coaching vacancy — along with Raptors assistants Nick Nurse and Rex Kalamian — and during the NBA’s draft combine last week in Chicago the team formally interviewed him.

Stackhouse brings to the table a wealth of playing experience and a fairly stunning amount of success in a relatively short span of head coaching experience. Here’s more background on one of the Raptors’ head coaching candidates:

Name: Jerry Stackhouse
Age: 43
Hometown: Kinston, N.C.
NBA coaching experience: 1 season (2015-16)

Former Raptor-killer

Stackhouse got his NBA coaching start as an assistant on Casey’s staff during the 2015-16 season. But before he was a part of the Raptors organization he’d been a thorn in the team’s side during his playing days.

Long-time Raps fans likely recall Toronto’s brief 2002 playoff run. Playing without Vince Carter, who was injured at the time, the Antonio Davis-led Raptors squared off in the first round of the ’02 playoffs against the Stackhouse-led Detroit Pistons.

On an episode of Sportsnet’s Inside the Huddle taped earlier this season, Stackhouse re-lived his dominant 31-point performance in Game 2 against the Raptors:

The Raps would go on to lose the series in five games (at the time the first round was best-of-five), and Stack proved too much for Toronto to handle.

G-League success story

Stackhouse was inspired to pursue a career in coaching after founding the AAU team, Stackhouse Elite, and taking his turn patrolling the sidelines.

After spending a season as an assistant with the Toronto Raptors, Stackhouse was named the head coach of the Raptors 905 for the 2016-17 season. Despite having never been a head coach in a professional environment, Stackhouse found immediate success in the G League.

On a loaded team that, for various durations, featured the likes of Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, and Jakob Poeltl, the Raptors 905 made it all the way to the Finals — and captured their first-ever championship that season.

This past season was arguably even more impressive. The 905 boasted a talented lineup, but were without the depth of talent from the year prior. Despite losing players like Siakam and VanVleet to full-time NBA roles, the 905 were again one of the G League’s best and returned to the Finals, marking two championship appearances in as many years for the first-time head coach. Not too shabby.

Under Stackhouse, the Raptors 905 carved out a defensive identity, leading the league in defensive rating and finishing third in net rating.

Scoring machine

While he’s already worked his way to become an NBA head-coaching candidate in a short amount of time (he is reported to be on several team’s radars, whether for a gig this season or in the near future), Stackhouse enjoyed a thorough playing career, suiting up for eight teams over an 18-year career.

As is the case with anybody who sticks around for that long, he was able to evolve and transform his game numerous times, from a go-to scorer in his earlier days in Philadelphia (where he was drafted third overall in ’95) to Detroit as a versatile veteran with the Dallas Mavericks in the mid-2000’s, helping the team reach the NBA Finals in 2006.

But his arguably his best days were with the Pistons. Despite already topping 20 points per game in a season twice, his breakout season came in 2000-01 when he averaged a career-best 29.8 points per game — second in the NBA only to Allen Iverson — and earned his second all-star appearance.

Don’t mess with Stack (vs. Kirk Snyder)

Apart from his scoring prowess, throughout his career Stackhouse carried a well-earned reputation as one of the toughest players in the NBA. Just ask Kirk Snyder. Or Jeff Hornacek.

Check back on Friday when we take a deep dive on another internal candidate, Rex Kalamian.

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