Jerry Stackhouse has a hard time believing that 14 seasons have passed since he began his NBA career. Watch him play this summer and you would have a hard time believing it, too.
Fully healed from the foot injury that cost him last season in Dallas, Stackhouse is healthy and back to playing like the player that helped lead the Mavericks to the NBA Finals in 2006.
After relocating to the Atlanta area earlier this summer, Stackhouse has been back in the gym, working out at the Hawks' practice facility, and eager to see where his free agency will lead him.
The former North Carolina star and two-time NBA All-Star spoke about all that and more with the AJC.
Q: Of all the places you could live, why Atlanta?
A: My older son has been going to school at Greater Atlanta Christian. He's starting seventh grade, so I wanted to be closer to him. So we decided to buy a house here. And my wife and my other two kids, we all packed up and moved to Suwanee. And once we got here, I heard there were guys working out down here [at the Hawks' practice facility] and getting some good runs in and came down.
Q: These are lean economic times for NBA teams and players. Does that make it tougher for veteran free agents like yourself to find the right fit?
A: There are probably a handful of teams that make sense for me. Everybody's cutting back now, so I really don't know what's going to happen. But I have a couple weeks before training camp starts, and I'm just making sure I do whatever it takes to get ready for whatever.
Q: Does it matter if you get signed before camp starts or is it just a matter of being on a roster when the regular season starts?
A: I think teams feel like there are going to be some guys that can help them, even if they don't sign them before training camp. I would love to be with somebody before training camp just to get the feel of being there from the start of the journey. You want to be able to learn all the nuances offensively and defensively, and you also want to bond with your teammates as well.
Q: You mentioned a handful of teams that make sense for you. Are the Hawks one of those teams?
A: Sure. And we've had a little dialogue with them. They have some interest, but I know they have some other things they're looking at as well. I have a relationship with [ Hawks GM] Rick [Sund] from back in our days in Detroit, and I'm pretty sure he'll shoot straight with me one way or the other, so we'll see what happens.
Q: You've turned heads among your peers here this summer. Do you think their surprise stems from the fact that you missed all of last season with that heel injury?
A: Because I didn't play last year and, I don't know, before I even got hurt there were rumblings about Dallas trying to get younger and everything, so I don't know. People hear what they want to hear and believe what they want to believe. But I know I can help somebody. It's just a matter of getting the chance. But hey, this is my 15th [season] doing this, so I'm not going to cry about it one way or another. But I'd hate to leave the game with something left in the tank.
Key Hawks dates
Sept. 29: Camp opens
Oct. 7: Exhibition opener vs. Hornets (7 p.m.)
Nov. 1: Regular season opener at Lakers (9:30 p.m., FSSO)
Nov. 7: Home opener vs. Nuggets (7 p.m., SPSO)