Pour one out for Team Stack.
Here’s the tweet, and full report from Woj:
Toronto G League coach Jerry Stackhouse has agreed to a deal to join the Memphis Grizzlies as an assistant under JB Bickerstaff. Story on ESPN: https://t.co/NVk8AtHB0K— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 10, 2018
For the past two seasons, Stackhouse has been head coach of the Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League team. And for those two seasons, wouldn’t you know it, the 905 have gone to the G League Finals, winning the title in 2017. Prior to being positioned as the leader of the 905, Stackhouse was an assistant coach under Dwane Casey for one year with the Raptors, which provided his first taste of actual NBA coaching experience. (This is to say nothing of the last couple years of his playing career which saw Stackhouse sitting on the end of benches in Atlanta and Brooklyn, radiating veteran presence.)
There will be a hue and cry about Stackhouse’s departure from Toronto because many believed he would have — or should have — been a great head coach for the Raptors. While the G League is different from the NBA, for Stackhouse to take two vastly different iterations of the 905 (one loaded with talent; the other, not so much) to the Finals suggests an ability to get the most out of a squad in terms of consistency and discipline. Stack is also already known as a hard-nosed guy, someone who can command the respect of players (he played 18 years in the NBA!), and someone with the tactical skills to succeed at the next level.
But given the amount of time it has taken for the Raptors to hire a head coach, and given the lack of mentions Stackhouse’s name was getting in relation to that position, this turn of events is not surprising. It was clear that if the Raptors hired internally, it would be a choice between Nick Nurse and Stackhouse, and picking one would likely result in the loss of the other. Now the search has tilted wider to include names like Ettore Messina and Sarunas Jasikevicius, which looks to have squeezed Stackhouse right out of the discussion.
Once again we must say it: on the one hand, it’s a shame to lose an up-and-coming coach like Stackhouse. While there are no other immediate head coaching positions available for him (it does not appear as though Detroit considered him), it does feel like one will come eventually — and Stack will deserve it. On the other hand, it is yet another indication that the Raptors are a solid organization, through-and-through. As you’ll recall, the first 905 coach, Jesse Mermuys, was hired as the lead assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers; meanwhile, Nurse and Rex Kalamian are well-regarded; and here we sit saying goodbye to Stack as he sails on to greater challenges (remember: the Grizz, coming off a 22-60 year, are quite bad).
Maybe Stackhouse could have been the head coach the Raptors needed. But also, maybe not. Team Stack is surely disappointed, but we carry on. Congrats to Stackhouse, and let’s see what the Raptors do next.