Mark Jackson still wants to make the jump from NBA broadcaster to NBA coach, and in the long and proud tradition of former players finding jobs with clipboards somewhere in the L, he’ll likely get it. The rumored candidates for his services, per Ken Berger of CBS Sports, are the Nets and the Clippers:
One person familiar with how coaching candidates view the Clippers job
described the team as being in the “best shape in the league”
payroll-wise and talent-wise. There are signs that frugal owner Donald
M. Sterling, who demoted and then fired former coach and GM Mike Dunleavy in recent weeks, could be ready to open his notoriously tight checkbook
for a high-profile name like Jackson. The Nets, according to sources,
would be viewed as more of a longer-term growth opportunity for
Jackson, who has no previous coaching experience. But the cap space to
sign a max free agent, the possibility of landing presumed No. 1 pick
John Wall, and the team’s eventual move to a new arena in Brooklyn –
one borough over from Jackson’s native Queens – might overshadow the
fact that the Nets (7-61) are on their way to one of the worst seasons
in NBA history.
Another situation that bears watching is Indiana, where Jackson enjoyed some of his best years as a player. Former Pacers GM Donnie Walsh, who also is represented by Jackson’s new agent, Steve
Kauffman, thinks highly of Jackson and still holds sway over Pacers
owner Herb Simon when it comes to transformational decisions such as a
coaching hire. If the Pacers decide to dismiss Jim O’Brien after the
season for a new voice, and Jackson’s communication skills and
popularity within the organization will be among his biggest strengths.
Will Jackson be a good coach? No clue. Anyone who claims to have a clue, Jackson included, is lying. Finding success at the head of an NBA bench requires a special level of work ethic, an ability to connect with players without putting too much or too little pressure on them, and combining knowledge of the sport’s X’s and O’s with an ability to manage talent. Maybe Mark can do those things, maybe he can’t.
Either way, the important thing for New Jersey, or Los Angeles, or even Indiana is that Jackson, if hired, meshes with their personnel and philosophy as a franchise. He shouldn’t be hired for his name, even with a franchise like the Pacers for which that name means something significant. Y’know, something more significant than being the name behind “Mama there goes that man!”