Report: Golden State Warriors Coach Mark Jackson Forces Reassignment Of Assistant Brian Scalabrine


November 20, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors assistant coach Brian Scalabrine (left) instructs small forward Andre Iguodala (9) during the fourth quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies at Oracle Arena. The Grizzlies defeated the Warriors 88-81 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report, Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson and the front office are on opposite sides of the fence with regard to assistant coach Brian Scalabrine.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, citing NBA sources, reported that Jackson has forced a reassignment of Scalabrine, who is in his first year on the Warriors staff.

The report said ownership and the front office have been high on Scalabrine and his performance but yielded to Jackson’s wishes to reassign the assistant. According to the sources, the decision was made that as long as Jackson is the coach, he should have control of the coaching staff.

Management is trying to determine a role for Scalabrine, whom the club has no intention of firing.

It’s the second straight year there has been some sort of conflict between Jackson and one of his assistants. Last season, Jackson and former assistant Michael Malone reportedly would go weeks at a time without speaking.

Malone left last summer to become coach of the Sacramento Kings.

Jackson has a year remaining on his contract and there have, as yet, been no discussions about an extension, at least not discussions that have leaked to the public.

Sources also told Wojnarowski that Jackson tried to get in on the searches for several open head coaching positions around the league over the last year, including with the Clippers and Nets. The Clippers wound up working out a trade of sorts with the Celtics to bring in Doc Rivers and the Nets went with another former point guard, Jason Kidd.

Jackson came to the Warriors in 2011-12 after a 17-year playing career with the Knicks, Clippers, Pacers, Nuggets, Raptors, Jazz and Rockets and went into broadcasting after his retirement in 2004. With no coaching experience, he was the first coach hired by the Warriors new ownership group of Joe Lacob and Peter Guber in 2011 and the team stumbled to a 23-43 record during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.

But with a healthy Stephen Curry last season, Golden State improved to 47 wins and made the playoffs for the first time since 2007. They went on to upset the No. 3-seeded Denver Nuggets in six games in the first round before bowing to San Antonio in a six-game Western Conference semifinal series.

This year, the Warriors are 44-27 and in sixth place in the Western Conference, but it feels much different in 2013-14. In many circles, the Warriors are seen as underachievers, particularly in light of a 23-12 record at Oracle Arena that includes losses to non-contenders such as Denver, Minnesota and Cleveland and mediocre Eastern playoff contenders Washington and Charlotte.

Scalabrine, 36, was almost a cult-like figure in his 11-year NBA career, spent primarily on the benches of the Nets, Celtics and Bulls. After he retired following the 2011-12 season, Scalabrine was offered a job on Tom Thibodeau’s staff in Chicago, but tried his hand at broadcasting instead. When he opted to get into coaching, he joined Jackson’s staff with a strong recommendation from Thibodeau.

For all of the criticism Jackson receives as a coach, however, there is one fact that remains indisputable: Under Jackson, the Warriors play defense—defense in a way that the Warriors have never played defense in recent memory. The perception still exists that Golden State is still the high-scoring, run-and-gun teams popularized under the tenures of Don Nelson as head coach, but while the Warriors have offensive firepower with Curry, David Lee and Klay Thompson, this team defends like crazy.

You don’t land in the top three in defensive efficiency by accident and the Warriors are one of only three teams (Indiana and Chicago, teams that are known as defensive squads) to allow less than 100 points per 100 possessions (per at 99.5.

Golden State doesn’t rank as highly in the more conventional points per game category (a respectable eighth at 98.9 points per game allowed), but the Warriors play at a faster pace that many teams—their 98.62 possessions per game is the fifth-fastest pace in the league; more possessions, more points, thus driving up the points per game marks on both ends.

Coming into the job, the questions many had about Jackson were related to the X’s and O’s. As it turns out, though, it could be his people skills that ultimately prove to be his undoing.