Jermaine O’Neal says feeling is ‘no matter what happens, our coach won’t be our coach next year’

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Mark Jackson has been somewhat embattled as Warriors head coach this season, largely due to the team not living up to preseason expectations, but also because of a series of incidents that’s led to his current standing in the organization.

Golden State owner Joe Lacob tried to put an end to the discussion about Jackson’s alleged lack of job security by saying “There is nothing going on until after the season.”

Not exactly a huge vote of confidence, there, especially when the season can end as soon as Saturday if the Warriors should lose their Game 7 matchup with the Clippers in Los Angeles.

Besides. it’s hard to quell that sentiment when a player on the team expresses that the vibe has permeated the locker room, and the feeling is that nothing will be good enough to save Jackson’s job.

From Sam Amick of USA Today:

“You get the feel that no matter what happens, our coach won’t be our coach next year,” Warriors center Jermaine O’Neal said after the win. “You just get that feel. But we are willing to give all we’ve got for this group, for that coach, and hopefully whatever that will and whatever we’ve given is good enough to take us as far as we should go.”

Much like Jackson before him, O’Neal had a lot to say and – with this one crucial win – a little extra time to say it.

“Winning is hard, and hopefully everybody that supports this organization, that runs this organization, understands just how hard it is to win,” he continued. “And if you get a group that’s a good group that loves each other, that fights for each other, and can get a head coach (where) you see (former Warriors point guard and current Cleveland Cavaliers point guard) Jarrett Jack speaking about now from another situation, don’t take that for granted (because) 51 (wins) can go to 31.”

O’Neal’s right — it feels like Jackson is gone, despite the Warriors winning 51 games and, at the very least, pushing a more talented team to a Game 7 in the first round.

If ti happens, the move would be far from unprecedented. Just last season, was saw George Karl win Coach of the Year in Denver before being ousted, and Lionel Hollins took the Grizzlies further than they’d ever been in the playoffs, before the team decided not to bring him back on a new contract.

Short of winning a title, there are too many other factors that can influence whether or not a franchise wants to continue on its path, with its current head coach remaining in place. The vibe around the Warriors, if O’Neal is to be believed, is that Jackson will be looking for work elsewhere at whatever point the season is finished.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.