The Golden State Warriors lost in Game 7 of the first round this weekend, and now all the rumors percolating to the surface during the regular season about the hot seat under coach Mark Jackson will be put to the test. Like they’ve said all year, the majority of Dubs players want Jackson to stick around, despite ownership’s unwillingness to publicly support the third-year coach.
At the end of last season, the Warriors picked up their option on Jackson for the 2014-15 season, but they haven’t offered him the job security of an extension despite consecutive seasons of 45-plus wins and a second-round playoff appearance last postseason. Disgruntled fans hadn’t seen a Dubs team this good since the heyday of Run TMC, and their consecutive trips to the playoffs is the first time it’s happened since the ’91 and ’92 seasons. Despite Jackson’s success, ownership’s lack of confidence continues. In the words of USA Today‘s Sam Amick, “[Jackson's] personality and style have rubbed so many within the organization the wrong way at different times.”
That’s included the firing of an assistant secretly recording conversations within the coaching staff, with some believing he was making the recordings for management. Then there was the demotion to their D-League outfit of another assistant, Brian Scalabrine, who didn’t fit in with the Warriors’ coaching staff.
After the Warriors won Game 6 in Golden State, elder statesman on the team, Jermaine O’Neal, told Amick that the he doesn’t envision Jackson returning, despite the results:
“You get the feel that no matter what happens, our coach won’t be our coach next year,” Warriors center Jermaine O’Neal said after the win. “You just get that feel. But we are willing to give all we’ve got for this group, for that coach, and hopefully whatever that will and whatever we’ve given is good enough to take us as far as we should go.”
But Jackson’s players have always supported him even if management doesn’t know whether he’s the right fit to lead them up the next rung on the NBA ladder. Via ESPN:
“What Coach has gone through this year has been unlike anything I’ve seen — just the amount of distractions, the circus that has been around him and the decisions he has had to make,” Curry said. “I love Coach more than anybody. For him to be in a position where his job is under scrutiny and under questions is totally unfair.”
“It would definitely be a shock to me if anything like [a firing] would happen,” Curry said. “I’m definitely going to voice my support for Coach to anybody that asks me all summer.
“He deserves to be our coach next year, and we’re going to come back and build off of the momentum we’ve gained over the past three years and continue to grow as a team. I want Coach Jackson to be that guy leading us.”
“That’s nothing we can worry about. That’s really out of our hands,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “At the end of the day, we did everything we could do to fight for Coach. He did everything he could do to fight for us. We’re not going to act like this was a one-way street. He put everything he had into it.”
Even with his player’s support, back-to-back playoff appearances and a regular-season record that’s gotten better in each succeeding season during his three-year tenure, there isn’t anyone in the front office that’s going to bat for the former player- and broadcaster-turned coach:
Mark Jackson doesn't have one GSW front office ally who'll make a case to ownership to keep him. "He's on an island," league source says.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) May 4, 2014
If Jackson is terminated during an off-season that just started, some within the organization’s front office hierarchy will be relieved, but who knows if they can bring someone in that connects with the players as well as Jackson has, or if the players even want to connect following their coach’s dismissal.
Will Jackson get fired this offseason?
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