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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.

 

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Comments

29 Comments

  1. Albert Park

    I don’t think you fire a winning coach unless you’re sure that you’ve got someone better lined up. Who’s currently available who’s better?

    May 5th, 2014 11:18 pm

  2. CohnZohn

    Albert, It’s not a question of firing. It’s a question of not redoing his contract.

    May 6th, 2014 12:14 am

  3. Phil

    If Bob Myers is so great why are we stuck with Bogut, who rarely stays healthy enough to make it to the playoffs? With a decent big man we would have beaten the Clippers. What’s the point of following the warriors next year unless this changes?

    May 6th, 2014 7:01 am

  4. Brady

    “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.”

    Thanks, Lowell. My morning was off to a poor start, but that gave me just the laugh that I needed.

    May 6th, 2014 7:08 am

  5. Brady

    And Lowell, yes it is a matter of firing. There’s no reason in keeping a coach for a season when you know he’ll be gone the next. As many people have reported, Lacob is considering firing Jackson this offseason.

    May 6th, 2014 7:09 am

  6. Dennis

    The Warriors are a Kevin Love away from real success. I would do anything to get him including trading Lee, Thompson and Barns. They need a big guy who can score at will in the low post and take over a game. Lee, Thompson and Barns are pretty much the same player – jump shooters who can drive but are not consistent. Once you have the big guy who can score at will any decent coach, including Jackson, will do.

    May 6th, 2014 8:09 am

  7. Jim Bancroft

    Great column Lowell. Not a slam dunk either way. I’d be inclined to extend Jackson, even though he has genuine flaws (largest being his coaching staff).

    If Jackson agrees to hire a more experienced assistant or two then perfect, otherwise I’d still likely keep him. Otherwise Lacob risks being seen as an egomaniac who can’t stand not having yes-men courtside. A little creative tension never hurt anyone.

    If Jackson isn’t renewed or is let go, what strong coach would want to come here?

    May 6th, 2014 9:32 am

  8. Stan

    My guess is,he doesn’t extend. But,he doesn’t fire him. If the Warriors get off to a bad start,and Lacob thinks its Jackson not giving his best effort..THEN he fires him.
    All I know for sure is..there is a Warrior culture that doesn’t seem to change with who’s the player or owner,and that’s the team will not play for a white coach. Lacob better listen to me. Because every white coach was hated by the team since..well,post Al Attles. Only Attles,Smart and Jackson seem to have avoided team mutinies.

    May 6th, 2014 9:51 am

  9. dharte

    Interesting article, Lowell, but I think you’ve missed a key point for the dismissal of Mark Jackson: his players are allowed to make stupid mistakes–again & again & again.

    One obvious example: moving screens…perhaps the easiest turnover to correct in young players (I’m talking 8th or 9th graders now); anyone who has worked with kids knows that they need very specific instruction: you screen with your body wide, you don’t “lean in” with your elbows or hips once you’re set and you don’t move your feet…yet the Warriors must have committed 200 moving screens during the regular season alone. Simply ridiculous mental errors, unacceptable in a pro, and the sort of mistake that is directly related to poor coaching.

    Then we can talk about bad passing: that stiff-armed hook pass that Curry loves must be retired; it’s a turnover waiting to happen. And, again, Steph Curry is their best player. Yet so many of the Warriors throw careless passes. Only Bogut understands angles and how to lead a cutter, and once he was gone the Warriors struggled to penetrate the lane under pressure. Outside shooting became the offense.

    This is not a young team; the Warriors need to win now. Lee, Iguodala and Bogut are all nearing the end of their peak years, and Lee may already be past his prime (Bogut’s long history of injury is another factor, of course, as is Curry’s).

    So Joe Lacob really must push for a title in the next couple of years to have any realistic chance at a ring. I would argue that only Jerry West among this current group has the talent to pull off such a feat. Give him the keys and get out of his way. This team needs a power forward–emphasis on power. And they also need a coach who pays close attention to detail and refuses to allow stupid basketball, starting with the elimination of foolish turnovers. That describes Popovich, Rivers, and two or three others in the league; it does not describe Mark Jackson.

    May 6th, 2014 9:56 am

  10. Mitch

    Fire the remaining assistants and trade/release those players who didn’t perform up to expectation but keep Mark Jackson !

    May 6th, 2014 10:59 am

  11. chris

    11 a.m. Tuesday KNBR just reported Lacob and Jackson are meeting right now and its expected Jackson will be gone…….no big deal to me. Lacob and Guber have been successful at their professions and have made the Warriors relevant……..most likely they’ll do another good job at hiring another solid coach.

    May 6th, 2014 11:16 am

  12. Brady

    And, as expected (despite your comment), Jackson has been fired.

    May 6th, 2014 12:17 pm

  13. Dr. Feelgood

    If this were a family, they’d all be in counseling, and then in court The angst is far to great for reconciliation. There is going to be a divorce.

    May 6th, 2014 12:33 pm

  14. Dennis

    Well, that discussion didn’t last long!

    May 6th, 2014 12:58 pm

  15. Derek

    Albert is absolutely correct…the 49ers fired Steve Mariucci for the same reason–not going far enough in the playoffs–and replaced him with a succession of lesser coaches, which set the franchise back for years. The Giants fired Dusty Baker for the same reason and replaced him with a clearly past-his-prime Felipe Alou. Unless you have a better alternative already waiting in the wings, dumping a popular, successful coach is foolhardy.

    May 6th, 2014 1:19 pm

  16. Stan

    I ‘ve changed my prediction. I think he will be fired today.

    May 6th, 2014 1:29 pm

  17. Stan

    This has Hue Jackson written all over it.

    May 6th, 2014 1:30 pm

  18. Mark M

    So much for “the process” with a full consultation with everyone in the organization. This was obviously a slam dunk foregone conclusion. Mystifying. I hope someone gets to the bottom of why and how this really happened. I’ve heard plenty of speculation but would like to hear from Lacob, Myers, and or West.

    Like others have mentioned…..better have someone better ready to go.

    May 6th, 2014 2:23 pm

  19. Dave T

    For the sake of the organization, I hope they have someone lined up who will be as good or better. Who will get the players to play with the same level of intensity and emotion. While I agree that Lacob and Guber have been successful in their professions, just take a look around the major sports leagues at the billionaire owners who are good at what got them their team and have gone on to louse up the team itself because they thought they knew sports. It is only when they realize that they need the experts in that particular field that they win. See Jerry Jones (Success when had Johnson), Steinbrenner (success when turned over keys to Cashman)the Buss family (when the let Jackson run the show). The Rooney’s and Mara’s (who are also joined by marriage) are great examples of letting football people run their franchises and they have the Championships to prove it.

    Bold move. Whether or not it is a good one will remain to be seen for a long long time.

    May 6th, 2014 3:05 pm

  20. parnell

    Last week it was Harrison Barnes who was a better player than Iguodala. This week it’s Draymond Green. Who’s next: Jordan Crawford? Let me know when Green or Barnes make an Olympic team or demonstrate that they can guard any of three positions and do it at an all-defense team level.

    Maybe I missed it but did anyone at a Kings game this season say, “Wow, that Mike Malone offense is really efficient and imaginative.”

    Chris Paul at 75% was good enough to go for 32 and 10 in 27 minutes vs OKC two days after the Warriors series. I think that his hamstring problems were simply a smokescreen offered by Doc Rivers.

    If Joe Lacob thought he got booed for trading Monta Ellis wait until the first time the team loses a home game against a bad team under his new, more subservient coach.

    May 6th, 2014 3:58 pm

  21. Stan

    On the road,doing business,I caught the D.Bruce show. And did you know you have a fatwa with him because he once told your loins pride,Iggy, too “Shut the hell up” ?. He didn’t give details as in, was it in person? or where. But he did do a Lowell as Ebenezer sounding cranky old man railing.
    Did you know that?…

    May 6th, 2014 4:01 pm

  22. dharte

    I think the folks here are missing the obvious: Jerry West knows more about basketball than Mark Jackson, he is smarter than Mark Jackson, and not only was West was a much, much better player (and student of the game), he built the Lakers–twice.

    Give me Jerry West every time. Now we need that power forward.

    May 6th, 2014 4:26 pm

  23. Stan

    CH7 reports that Danica McKellar danced on “Dancing With the Stars” with a BROKEN rib. She’s got more guts then Bogut.

    May 6th, 2014 4:27 pm

  24. Dennis

    The Bleacher Report has a whole list of coaches who might be in line for the job, why they would be good, why they may be interested.
    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2053580-best-potential-options-to-replace-mark-jackson-as-golden-state-warriors-coach

    It doesn’t seem like finding a a good coach is going to be a problem. Now finding a good power forward, that could be a problem.

    May 6th, 2014 5:25 pm

  25. Stan

    Somebody reported that a screaming had broke out between Jackson and Curt Lacob sometime this year.
    I’m willing to bet Jackson said “My team” too often and too literally. He can make a case,its not like he has no standing..but philosophy loses to the dollar.

    May 6th, 2014 5:31 pm

  26. CohnZohn

    Stan, who cares?

    May 6th, 2014 7:13 pm

  27. Dave T

    Job number one will be to get Curry on board with a new coach. Jackson helped take Curry to new heights. If the new coach doesn’t/can’t/won’t get this superstar on board in short order sadly this franchise will quickly slide backwards into the very deep Western Conference. And don’t be surprised if that happens that he ends up on an Eastern Conference contender once he becomes a UFA. This move by management could have serious consequences for a very extended period of time.

    May 6th, 2014 7:33 pm

  28. Stan

    Eh,I thought it was comical. Funny that he even felt like he had to explain it. You know, a lot of ” Its ok I hate you,but if you hate me? THAT hurts my feelings” seems at work on Bruce’s mind-lol
    Young lions think like that.

    May 6th, 2014 8:50 pm

  29. Neal

    A little late in reading your column Lowell but very good objective readings.

    May 7th, 2014 2:37 pm

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