Plenty of people are not sold on Mark Jackson, the new coach of the Golden State Warriors. Apparently the Warriors were not either.
Jackson was not the first choice, Matt Steinmetz reminds us at CSN Bay Area. When owner Joe Lacob and the Warriors started this search, experience was a key. Jackson has none. And while the Warriors had a long and at times contradictory list of things they wanted, just look at their first steps to see their real goals.
But we got a sense where their priorities were when they initially reached out to former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and former Knicks and Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy. Both of those coaches had experience, a track record of success, a strong personality and a defense-first mentality.
Both Sloan and Van Gundy declined interviews with the Warriors, and so Mike Brown became their No. 1 focus. Brown didn’t have the resume’ history that Sloan and Van Gundy had, but Brown was no doubt the No. 1 available candidate on the market.
He was also said to be the Warriors’ front-runner before he ended up taking the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching job.
The market kept squeezing the Warriors, the coaches they wanted they could not get then Toronto and Detroit entered the market looking for coaches. The pool of available coaches was about to shrink more, so the Warriors went with the guy they liked best.
The reaction from fans and front office people has been to question the move, but tweets and comments from players have been very positive. And ultimately that is who Jackson has to impress. If he can reach the players and have good assistants help him through the rough patches, this could go better than many expect.
But this was not the direction the Warriors first wanted to go. This is a gamble.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.
The Houston Rockets are still searching for a head coach — with Jeff Van Gundy believed to be their top target — but it won’t be J.B. Bickerstaff, who has served as the team’s interim coach since they fired Kevin McHale in November. According to The Vertical‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, Bickerstaff has informed Rockets management that he’s no longer in consideration for the job:
After a meeting with ownership and the front office on Tuesday, Houston Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff has informed team officials that he’s no longer a candidate for the head-coaching job, league sources told The Vertical.
Other NBA teams have started reaching out to Bickerstaff about lead assistant coaching positions, and that’s where he’s transitioned his focus, league sources said.
After the Rockets’ disappointing season and disastrous playoff performance — where they lost in five not-very-competitive games to a Stephen Curry-less Warriors —it makes sense that Bickerstaff would rather get a fresh start as an assistant somewhere else, where he could build up his credentials and be a more highly sought-after head coaching candidate in the future. He isn’t a big name, so he likely wouldn’t be able to command as much money as the Rockets’ head coach as a more established figure would be. Given the Rockets’ uncertain future with Dwight Howard almost certain to opt out and not a lot of long-term pieces around James Harden, it’s not the most stable job in the world.