After all the great minds he has been mentored by and the years of NBA playing time under his belt, coaching has always been in Jerry Stackhouse's future.
At least, that is what former NBA head coach and current Alabama head coach Avery Johnson saw in his former player.
Stackhouse is in town this week to meet with Knicks execs as the first candidate to interview for the vacant head coach position in Madison Square Garden. And though he may not have NBA head-coaching experience, Johnson says not to underestimate his coaching prowess.
"The tail end of our tenures in Dallas, I knew coaching was in his future," Johnson told The Post's Marc Berman. "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."
Fast forward to 2016 and Stackhouse was leading the G-League Raptors 905 team to a title in a season he was named the 2016-17 G-League Coach of the Year. This past season, he made yet another trip to the finals after defeating the league-best Westchester Knicks in the conference semifinals.
Stackhouse began his coaching career as an assistant for the Raptors before taking the job as their G-league head coach. It was a decision Johnson recommended to his former player, who he knew needed head-coaching experience if he wanted to reach his ultimate goal.
Now, Stackhouse is one of the hottest young coaches on the market, with the Magic and Hornets also interested in his services next season.
"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 Johnson explained earlier, Stackhouse joined him in Brooklyn during the 2012-13 season, and it wasn't to make an impact on the court at age 38. Instead, he wanted to pick his brain and help groom him into the coach he is today.
"He's 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's quick success can be attributed to his coaching style, one that Johnson calls balanced. He is also known to be a great communicator with his players despite not being the most vocal player himself back in his playing days.
"You've seen his impact with the style of his team -- he has very good communication skills with his players, definitely has a presence about him," Johnson explained. "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."
However, Stackhouse won't be waltzing his way into the Knicks, or any head coaching job for that matter. For New York specifically, his competition consists of former NBA head coaches in David Fizdale, David Blatt, and Mark Jackson, who will visit the Knicks on Wednesday.
It is worth noting his connection with GM Scott Perry, as Perry served in the Pistons' front office for two seasons while Stackhouse was playing. But, though Perry said head coaching experience doesn't matter, it is a great plus to have on the resume.
If anyone, though, is convinced Stackhouse is ready for another big jump -- this time leading an NBA team -- it is Johnson.
"He'll be a good fit for somebody," Johnson said. "I hope he gets one of these openings."