On the heels of Luke Walton vying for a job as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks, two more former players are striving to join coaching ranks in what seems to be a major theme of the NBA in recent months.
Forget about having to do time in lesser leagues or the ranks of collegiate basketball. Don't worry about earning years of experience in the broadcast booth. Former players are all the rage now, and Bill Cartwright and Jerry Stackhouse are only the latest editions.
Let's start with Stackhouse.
As Scott Howard-Cooper reports for NBA.com, he's looking for a job with the Knicks, even though he's one of the few candidates who was never actually coached by Phil Jackson:
Stackhouse said he talked with the Hawks last summer, soon after retiring, about staying in his adopted hometown as a player-development coach and that he met with new president Phil Jackson about a role with the Knicks in 2014-15. While staff decisions in New York are essentially on hold until a head coach is hired, the sense from Stackhouse’s side is that 'there could be some realistic possibilities coming in.'
During Stackhouse's NBA career, which spanned from 1995 until 2013, he spent time with the Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets. Even though he suited up for eight of the Association's 30 franchises, he was still never under the Zen Master's control, which is strange given Jackson's penchant for looking at his former players.
And while he has no experience on the sideline, he feels ready to go, per Howard-Cooper:
I enjoyed this year, just doing some broadcasting, doing radio and still being able to build what I want to do from a basketball standpoint coaching wise. But I think I’m ready. When you look at the guys that had completely no experience, like Jason (Kidd) last year and his success, I think that’s what it’s going to. It’s going to coaches that can really understand these players now. That’s the key.
As for Cartwright, there's a more obvious connection.
The big man played for the Chicago Bulls during the first three-peat of the 1990s, so he's intimately familiar with the style of play that Jackson would presumably like to employ.
However, he's looking at more than just his former coach's Knicks.
"After emerging as a top choice to be an assistant for Steve Kerr in the Knicks job, Bill Cartwright is back to square one," reports Mitch Abramson for the New York Daily News, "Waiting to hear back from Phil Jackson and Kerr to determine whether he will return to the bench, either in New York or Golden State.
As Joe Flynn wrote earlier this year for Bleacher Report, "If the Knicks do indeed hire Kerr, Cartwright would make an ideal lieutenant. Unlike Kerr, who has never been a head coach at any level, Cartwright has more than two seasons of experience coaching the Bulls from 2001 to 2004."
Obviously, the Knicks didn't hire Kerr, as the Golden State Warriors did.
But the sentiment still stands.
The 56-year-old has some significant coaching experience, as he's worked with the Bulls as an assistant under Jackson and later on as the head coach. Additionally, he spent time in Japan as the head coach of Osaka Evessa and back in the Association as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Nets and Phoenix Suns.
Chances are, Cartwright will have a job if he wants one. Things are a bit iffier for Stackhouse, given his lack of experience.
Then again, that no longer seems to be a prerequisite. Both these men could very well add to the ranks of players-turned-coaches, a group that is now growing exponentially.