Mark Jackson Popcorn

Warriors hire Mark Jackson as head coach


The Golden State Warriors have announced that they have hired former player and current television analyst Mark Jackson as their head coach.

The 46-year old Jackson had a long and distinguished career in the NBA as a player, winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1988 and being named an All-Star in 1989. He is currently third-leading assist man in NBA history. Since retiring as a player, Jackson has worked as an analyst for the YES network and ESPN, often broadcasting alongside former head coach Jeff Van Gundy.

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Jackson has a three-year deal with the Warriors, and the Warriors’ new ownership group is willing to spend money to surround Jackson with experienced assistants.

Jackson’s interview must have been extremely impressive, because from an outside perspective, this is not a hire that makes a lot of sense for the Warriors on any conceivable level, especially since highly-regarded assistant and defensive maven Dwane Casey was once again passed over, just like he was last summer when the Clippers hired Vinny Del Negro.

The Warriors desperately need a coach who can instill a sense of discipline. The team is loaded with talented offensive players, but finished 26th in defensive efficiency and dead last in rebounding rate, and haven’t had much of a sense of purpose since the 07-08 season, when they were arguably one of the best teams to ever miss the playoffs.

Jackson, who has never coached a game as a head coach or assistant coach at any legitimate level, does not appear to be the man to instill that sense of discipline. I have enjoyed Jackson’s work as a commentator, but his contributions are generally more amusing than educational on ABC/ESPN’s broadcasts. Jackson provides the Warriors with some name recognition on the sidelines, but who buys tickets or tunes into a game to watch a coach?

I don’t want to call this hire an outright failure, given that Jackson is an unknown quantity as a head coach and we don’t know how he convinced the Warriors’ new owners, who seem very serious about winning, to hire him. For all we know, Jackson will turn the Warriors right around and be the next Red Auerbach by the time his coaching career is over. But given the Warriors’ current situation and Jackson’s total lack of experience as a coach, there are a lot of reasons to be skeptical about this hire.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.