A New Sheriff in (Tha) Town
With the dismissal of Mark Jackson having been announced a few hours ago, the (new) Golden State Warriors find themselves in a precarious, but all to familiar position. This time, in addition to having the unenviable task of hiring another head coach, they must try to throw some dirt over and/or altogether erase the off the court issues that have plagued this franchise the within the last two months. Reassigning one assistant coach and firing another leads the masses to believe there is a lack of control within the walls of the locker room, and the refusal of the powers that be to extend the contract of a head coach who has done nothing but win in two of his three seasons gives teeth to the rumors regarding his imminent dismissal. As we move forward, he will learn more about the situation, undoubtedly, but what we know right now is that there were more negatives than positives. Let's take a closer look.
THE COACHING CAROUSEL
I stated in the preseason that the biggest loss the Warriors suffered was when lead assistant Mike Malone took the job down I-80 in Sacramento. To many, it didn't seem too significant at the time, especially with Jarrett Jack being shown the door, but this was the man who had the X's and O's part down. He was that veteran coach any rookie coach needs on the bench to see some things he doesn't see and to help him grow as a head coach. The problem is that Coach Jackson believed he knew more than Coach Malone and they butted heads often over how to run the team. Ultimately, when offered the opportunity to have a team of his own, Coach Malone bolted faster than Alex Rodriguez on his way to a PED sale in Miami. This was the beginning of the end for Mark Jackson whether he was aware of it or not. In addition to losing some key components from last year's team (the aforementioned Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry), they regressed in play calling from last year to this year and at times looked as if they had no game plan at all.
Replacing him was not going to be an easy task at all, as there are not a lot of veteran (assistant) coaches waiting for the phone to ring. When Jack could've made a real splash by hiring someone like Nate McMillan or another former coach out there looking for a job, he promotes Pete Myers and adds Lindsey Hunter and Brian Scalabrine to the mix. WHO?? With all due respect to Lindsey and The White Mamba, these are not the first names that come to find when filling out your coaches roster...nor should they be. It appeared that Coach Jackson enlisted the help of friends of his, or people he was comfortable with, and put them on the bench. The fact that there was no veteran presence on the bench, coupled with the fact that he probably refused to go find said coach, ultimately led to his dismissal. Looking back on the Scalabrine situation, some of the moves he made and/or attempted to make wreaked of those made by a President or Vice President of Basketball Operations or a General Manager, as opposed to those of a head coach; which is what Mark Jackson was. If you can't control the locker room, you are going to have an extremely difficult time proving you can control a team. Lastly, you have an assistant coach recording conversations between coaches and players, players and players, and coaches and coaches. He wasn't even in the room some of the time. This speaks to another level of dysfunction within the locker room. Things such as these rear their head in ugly ways at the wrong time and can stay with a team for an entire season.
PLAY CALLING AND ROTATION
To say it was some of the worst playing calling overall is flat out wrong, but to question it at times is very much warranted. As fluid as the offense looked at times, they looked just as lost at other points. It was as if Steph Curry was on a permanent iso and everyone else was supposed to stand there and watch. There were also times when it seemed Klay Thompson and Curry were joined together at the hip; as opposed to spacing them out wide and keeping the double team away from their star shooters. With a team as deep as the Warriors, especially as it pertains to the starting five, they should never go as many minutes as they consistently did without scoring. In fact, they should average upwards of 110 ppg in their sleep. That comes with spacing, high percentage shots, offensive rebounds, and having an offense that can manufacture points from anywhere on the floor. Instead, they played with an up and down pace that led to a myriad of turnovers and fast break points for the other team. Large leads were erased quickly (I will expound on that very point momentarily) and it led to tough losses.
In addition to a lack of consistency on offense, their rotation on defense was less than stellar. Yes, they were absolutely great most of the time on the defensive end, but there were times when certain guys who should've been out there on the floor weren't. As is the case with up and down pace, this caused quite a few leads to evaporate quickly and turned beautiful games into ugly ones. I did not hear of any out and out refusal to change anything, but there was no sign of anything changing throughout the course of the season. Moreover, I know Coach Malone and Coach Scalabrine argued with him about the way things were being down and we know that if you didn't agree with Coach Jackson before you walked out that (locker room) door, you were walking out of the door.
I don't have the stat sheet in front of me, but the Golden State Warriors had to be second behind the Boston Celtics in terms of large leads blown late in games. They found ways to lose big games. They would turn the ball over, start missing shots, not grabbing rebounds, go small when they should go big, go big when they should go small, etc. The Warriors could've had 60 wins this year had they closed out games properly. Those don't even begin to count the ones that they won, but had to pull it out at the end when it shouldn't have gotten that close. I specifically remember being at the Celtics vs. Warriors game in January and watching the Warriors go up by 14 points in the fourth quarter before the Celtics got it all the way down to 2. If it hadn't been for a game-winner by Stephen Curry with 1.2 seconds to go, they would've lost that game. As bad as the Celtics were at that time, it should've never gotten that close. The Warriors gave away a lot of games with having large leads or simply losing games they had no business losing. Speaking of which...
The Warriors lost some games throughout the season they had no business losing. Getting swept by Charlotte; having to go to overtime with Cleveland, then getting beaten by them at home and losing to the Knicks should never happen. Lest we forget losing by 20 to Chicago. All of that was bad. That's five losses right there. That makes your win total 56. But the one that did it for me was the loss to San Antonio at home in December. In what should've been a cake walk because San Antonio was playing without Duncan, Ginobili and Parker, the Warriors lost by two. It was at that time I stated for the first time that Jack was the wrong man for the job. He is a good coach, but he is the wrong man for the Golden State job. A more fiery coach with a certain temperament wouldn't allow them to lose games such as those, and the players will become stronger for it. I truly believe this was the moment when Joe Lacob was convinced it was time to move on unless the Warriors won an NBA title this season.
The Golden State Warriors were not going nowhere fast. They were a playoff team now and they were going to continue to be one as the seasons moved forward, but Joe Lacob wants more than that. He wants a championship and Mark Jackson isn't the man for the job. He doesn't want a fiery coach. In fact, he wants the opposite. He wants someone quiet enough to not be heard too much, but loud enough for the opposition to know who is on the floor. Steve Kerr fits that description to a T. I don't know if Mr. Lacob will be able to land him, but one thing is for certain about the organization:
The Warriors don't want to win now...THEY WANT TO WIN RIGHT NOW!!
© 2014 reggielewis35