The Golden State Warriors announced the hiring of ESPN analyst
Mark Jackson as their new coach on Monday, and the consensus among
the team’s front office types was that they indeed got their
By Marcus Thompson II – Contra Costa Times
OAKLAND, Calif. – The Golden State Warriors announced the hiring of ESPN analyst Mark Jackson as their new coach on Monday, and the consensus among the team’s front office types was that they indeed got their man.
Jackson was chosen over Dallas assistant Dwane Casey, San Antonio assistant Mike Budenholzer and Los Angeles Lakers assistant Brian Shaw. The announcement comes seven weeks after Golden State parted ways with Keith Smart, who led the Warriors to a 10-game improvement in his first full season as head coach.
“We do feel like we have done an exhaustive search,” said Larry Riley, the Warriors’ executive vice president of basketball operations. “We got to the point we were convinced we were making the right decision.”
The agreement is for Jackson to join the Warriors at the conclusion of the NBA finals, for which he is currently serving as a color analyst. Golden State is hoping to have an introductory news conference on Friday.
Jackson, who played point guard in the NBA for 17 seasons, has been a popular name in coaching circles for the last few years, interviewing with Atlanta and Philadelphia last season. But he does present a risk since as he’s never coached professionally, not even as an assistant.
But the Warriors –namely co-owner Joe Lacob – were impressed enough to give Jackson his first shot. Riley said Lacob met with Jackson “a week ago Thursday.” Jackson did so well in his interview that Lacob passed on interviewing Casey, who was pegged by many to be a favorite, and hired Jackson.
A team source confirmed reports that Jackson will receive a three-year deal worth $6 million.
“A tremendous honor,” Jackson said on ESPN. “They believe in what I’m preaching.”
Riley said Jackson’s inexperience was outweighed by his grasp on the game. He wowed the Warriors’ brass with his passion, strong personality and leadership ability.
Despite his inexperience, Jackson brings the credibility of a highly respected point guard in what is known as a players’ league. He was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1987-88 and was selected as an All-Star in 1989. He made it to the playoffs in all but three of his NBA seasons, logging 131 playoff games and more than 3,700 postseason minutes, including a trip to the NBA finals with Indiana in 2000. He is third all-time in career assists (10,334), behind Hall of Famer John Stockton and the Mavericks’ Jason Kidd.
“We felt the knowledge he collected as a player and the way he analyzes the game was helpful to him,” Riley said. “I just feel like there was enough there. He going to able to put together a good staff and he’s going to be able to handle coaching games.
“He’s been preparing to be a head coach all along. And that’s exposed when you talk to him about Xs and Os, and also when you talk to him about managing a team.”
Riley said an important part to Jackson’s hiring was securing a quality top assistant. A team source confirmed the Yahoo! Sports report that Golden State is heavily pursuing New Orleans assistant Mike Malone for that role.
Malone also is being pursued by the Lakers to serve as new coach Mike Brown’s top assistant. Before becoming lead assistant in New Orleans, Malone spent five seasons on Cleveland’s bench under Brown. He was an assistant from 2001-2005 with New York, where Jackson started at point guard in 2001-02. Riley said Jackson is a big fan of Malone and the Warriors are willing to pay good money for an assistant.
After Jackson assembles his staff, Riley said the new coach will help determine what the Warriors should do with the No. 11 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The Warriors on Monday worked out Kansas forward Marcus Morris, who is projected to be taken in the back half of the lottery.
Of more importance, however, will be Jackson’s opinion on current players, namely second-year man Stephen Curry. Golden State is hoping Jackson’s experience as a point guard helps take Curry’s game to a new level.
Another factor in Jackson’s favor was that he preached defense in his interviews. Riley said Jackson emphasized defense as the key to the Warriors improvement.
Jackson wasn’t known for his defense as a player, though he played on stellar defensive teams with New York and Indiana.