By Justin Taylor
Mike Malone leaving for his own head coaching gig would leave a huge gap for the Warriors
The biggest decision the Warriors will make this offseason will not come during the draft or in free agency. It isn’t going to be who will start at small forward or who will back up David Lee and Andrew Bogut next year. The question is who will coach the team when Mike Malone leaves? A better question might be why isn’t he the head coach here already? I don’t know anyone who thinks that Jackson is the better coach of the two right now. The front office better be combing through potential replacements because it’s a very real possibility that we’ll need one before the playoffs are even over.
Malone was one of the most sought after names last offseason and is once again this year. Who exactly were we bidding against for Mark Jackson’s services anyway? The team would probably be better off moving forward with Malone the same way we would have been better off moving forward with Gregg Popovich instead of Don Nelson in 1992? At least Nelson was a proven commodity at the time. People have no problem recalling when Nellie mailed in seasons in Dallas and Oakland, letting Avery Johnson and Keith Smart do the coaching, but will anyone remember Malone doing most of the coaching this year?
Some said Mike Brown should have been the guy but look how well liked he is in LA already. Plus you can’t forget that he was only the first guy that Mike Malone outcoached from the assistant’s chair. Kobe was happy to have him because he saw the “Hey, you four give Lebron the ball and try to make yourself invisible” offense Brown ran in Cleveland. I always blamed those Cavs games on Mike Brown for being absolutely terrible. After watching Mike Malone run that same play for Monta I’m thinking that I might owe Brown an apology. Since he’s a Laker now I’m more inclined to say he can kiss my ass but I digress.
Showing Varejo where to hide after he gives Lebron the ball
If we had just gone after Rick Adelman during the offseason this wouldn’t have been a topic of discussion right now. It’s pathetic to think he might have actually said, “Thanks, but I think I’ll take my chances with Glen Taylor and David Kahn in Minnesota.” Give Kahn at least a little credit for not falling for the Don Nelson okie doke though. You know the one where he works his ass off to get you to send him and his guaranteed contract back to Maui as opposed to developing your young talent. It would have been comical watching Nellie drive Anthony Randolph to tears again but other than that it was a good move by the Wolves to bring in Adelman.
None of the other available options fit the big talking, big splash M.O. of Joe Lacob. Looking at the other names that were out there you realize there was no splash to be had. So in comes ESPN superstar Mark Jackson followed by Mike Malone and more questions. Like whether installing Jackson as coach was a PR or a basketball move? It was actually a great pairing when you think about it. Malone could teach Jackson how to run an NBA team and Mark could help Mike master the postgame interview. Mark Jackson’s coaching style resembles that of Mike Singletary minus the fire, brimstone, pants dropping and Coors Light commercial quality quotes. He’s a good leader of men and big on catch phrases but “hand down man down” does not equal a coaching philosophy.
At this point we need to figure out who should take his place on the bench. There will be guys available and their names are not Pete Myers or Wes Unseld Jr. We need another “potential top dog willing to come here to play second fiddle for top dog money.” On top of my ballot would be San Antonio’s Mike Budenholzer who has been Popovich’s lead assistant since 2007-08 and was supposedly a candidate here last year. He is yet another guy who would come in and immediately make you question whether or not he is a better coach than Mark Jackson.
A guy I like even more than Pop’s assistant is the hometown guy who might actually want to come back to Oakland, Brian Shaw. He’d be a tough get (because he just signed with the Pacers last season) but he’s worth the premium price in our situation. I didn’t advocate for him last year but one season and a dramatically different roster later he could bring a very unique dynamic. The hidden value is that he could go a long way toward convincing Jason Kidd to come home as well to be our player/mentor as well. If all those dominoes fell in line it might look like one of the most successful off seasons in years before we even get to the draft.
I think Brian Shaw is actually the best fit for the town, the franchise and the roster
The other plus for Shaw is his triangle offense pedigree and that the triangle values highly intelligent, great passing big men as bigger assets than speedy ball dominating point guards. We just happen to have a couple of those. I’ve said in past columns that Stephen Curry is not a true point guard and the triangle removes the need for a penetrating point. Curry would be Derek Fisher on steroids in that system even if it actually looks like Fisher is Stephen Curry on steroids. The only advantage Fisher has over Steph is his ankles.
If Brian Shaw doesn’t float your boat lets look at the rest of the short list. Patrick Ewing and P.J. Carlesimo will be available and would give me an infinite amount of writing material. That’s if I didn’t get a lifetime ban for storming the court and choking P.J. before the all star break. If we’re trying to add a little ugliness we could go after Sam Cassell, Popeye Jones or my favorite unsightly NBA philosopher Adonal Foyle.
There is also the USF Dons all time leading scorer Bill Cartwright and that actually isn’t a joke. His shooting method may have been one of the most awkward sights in league history (right behind Sam Cassell, Popeye Jones and Adonal Foyle of course) but he is an incredibly gifted basketball mind. I think I’m biased on that one (since I grew up learning the game at his basketball camps at Sonoma State) but I do see him as a perfect big man compliment to the point/media man Jackson.
It is ridiculous how important the assistant coach is to this team. No one else in the league is having this conversation right now. Make no mistake about it though it is extremely important. If the team is healthy and doesn’t show dramatic improvement by the all star break Mark Jackson might be back on ESPN before the playoffs. If that day comes we do not want to be looking to a Pete Myers or Wes Unseld Jr. to right the ship. It’s also just one more thing for people outside Northern California to laugh at and wonder why we continue to show up. We will be there but next year we’ll truly expect a no excuses basketball team with or without Mark Jackson and Mike Malone.
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