Here is a link to my Tuesday column presenting the cases for and against giving Mark Jackson a contract extension. The full text runs below:
Today’s assignment is to analyze Mark Jackson’s future with the Warriors.
He has one year left on his contract. And that means the issue comes down to this: Should the Warriors give him an extension? If the Warriors do not extend Jackson, he will be a lame duck. No one wants a lame duck coach. No one wants to be a lame duck coach.
If the Warriors extend him, Jackson will say, “Thank you,” and that will be that. If the Warriors do not extend him, Jackson will feel unappreciated and almost certainly will leave.
This “Jackson, to extend or not to extend” may seem like an absurd topic. National announcers on TV during the playoffs were amazed Jackson’s job seems in jeopardy and publicly implored the Warriors to give him a new contract. But around here we know this is Warriors Topic One.
Reasons to extend Jackson
He won 51 games and brought his team to the playoffs the second season in a row. Because of him the Warriors, who had been a joke, are a serious team in the NBA. He changed their culture from passive losers to aggressive winners. He gets big credit for the culture shift.
The Warriors played the third-seed Clippers in the first round of the playoffs and played them tough without center Andrew Bogut. Game 7 came down to the very end and the Warriors almost won.
Jackson made a brilliant strategic adjustment against the Clippers, benching center Jermaine O’Neal, moving David Lee to center and taking Draymond Green off the bench and moving him to power forward. The Warriors’ “small” lineup was their best lineup. Green was the most feisty Warrior and made life miserable for Clippers’ All-Star power forward Blake Griffin, often took Griffin out of his game and turned Griffin into an on-court whiner.
Most of his players love Jackson and want to play for him. We haven’t seen the Warriors play this hard in a generation. Stephen Curry routinely campaigns for a Jackson extension, and Curry is the most important Warrior by a million miles.
The Warriors have a good thing going and it never is wise to break up a good thing.
The Warriors owner, Joe Lacob, does not seem sold on Jackson. Lacob complained about Jackson during local TV broadcasts of Warriors games, openly wondered why Jackson did not get the Warriors ready for lesser teams.
Lacob will make the call on Jackson’s contract. It’s possible Lacob, another one with a big ego, is jealous of all the attention Jackson has received. Lacob wants to be the face of the franchise. He does not want Jackson to be the face. If Lacob does not extend Jackson and if this is the reason, shame on Joe Lacob.
Reasons not to extend Jackson
Jackson’s Warriors got bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Clippers. It doesn’t matter that the Warriors played hard or with passion. They lost. Bottom line. They lost to a team in the middle of a national scandal, emotionally drained by the scandal. The Clippers’ best player, Chris Paul, played at 75 percent efficiency because of a bad hamstring.
The Warriors went 19-25 this season against teams with winning records. They beat up on bad teams. You don’t play bad teams in the playoffs.
Sure, Jackson saw the value in Green, but he saw it very late and only after O’Neal asked to be taken out of the starting lineup in the playoffs. Griffin had been murdering O’Neal.
Next season, the Warriors should start Green at small forward and bring Andre Iguodala off the bench. Everyone can see Green is the better player. Iguodala has three years left on his contract, too bad because he’s a fading player. Bob Myers is a wonderful general manager. Signing Iguodala was his only bad move.
Jackson preaches defense, and that is commendable. But he has no offensive philosophy. Recently, a former head coach was asked to describe Jackson’s offensive philosophy. By way of response, he laughed. Laughed a long time. Then he declined to comment. I think he already had commented and the comment was something like, “What offensive philosophy?”
Jackson has a weak coaching staff, what’s left of it. His staff is one of the weakest in the NBA. Not only could this staff not develop Harrison Barnes, the staff set him back. Barnes regressed this season.
Jackson does not surround himself with superior assistants. Last season, he had a superior assistant in Mike Malone and Malone has said there was friction between them. Jackson appears insecure and may not want assertive, talented assistants challenging him or vying for power. Jackson seems afraid of getting overshadowed.
The best head coaches want the best, smartest and most assertive assistants.
Back to Joe Lacob. He could make his decision based on pure job evaluation. It is not Lacob’s job to be loyal to Jackson. It’s his job to be loyal to winning. If Lacob feels he can get a superior coach, a coach who can teach more things, he should bring in that coach out of sheer loyalty to winning, out of the sheer desire to advance farther in the playoffs. The players, also loyal to winning, will fall in line, even Curry.
Those are the two sides of the issue. I was about to write, “You make the call.” But you won’t make the call and neither will I. Joe, we’re awaiting your decision.