Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Five

Mark Jackson after being fired as Warriors coach: ‘Now the pressure’s on for them to get a championship’


Mark Jackson was fired as head coach of the Warriors on Tuesday, a move that was only partially related to the team’s performance in terms of wins and losses.

Jackson had poor relationships with members of the front office that included ownership, and that more than anything is what ultimately caused the team to decide to go in a different direction.

The Warriors may have underachieved this year based on preseason expectations. But taking the Clippers to seven games without their best defensive player in Andrew Bogut was overachieving in most people’s eyes, even when taking into account the distraction L.A. endured in the middle of the series by having to deal with the Donald Sterling nonsense.

MORE FROM CSN BAY AREA: Lacob explains rationale for firing Jackson

But again, this year’s first round exit played only a small role in Jackson’s termination, and the expectations placed on the team moving forward will be someone else’s problem. With Jackson now gone, he said the pressure is now on the front office to deliver something better.

From Tim Kawakami of the Contra Costa Times:

JACKSON: I want to thank the Warriors organization for giving me a chance and thank the incredible fans in the area. And thank my players who I love and appreciate.

We accomplished a lot in three years and we should be proud. I wish them nothing but the best.

But to me, now the pressure’s on for them to get a championship. It’s not the time for them to be patient any more. This is a championship-caliber team. We were in the playoffs without David last year, and we were without Bogut this year.

When this team is healthy, it is a legit contender. That’s something that we’re all looking at going forward.

There were rumblings that Jackson was much more of a motivator than he was an Xs and Os genius, and the question this season isn’t whether or not the Warriors should be satisfied with the result, but whether or not another head coach could have done better.

The pressure on the front office to make a hire which will propel the organization forward is immense, and Jackson had no trouble verbalizing that following his dismissal.

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.

UNLV following Kentucky’s lead with combine for NBA scouts

Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw
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Kentucky held a two-day combine last season for NBA scouts.

Now, LSU and UNLV are following suit.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports:

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

LSU has potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and another first-round prospect in Tim Quarterman.

UNLV features lottery prospect Stephen Zimmerman.

This won’t replace scouts attending games and watching practices, but the fact that all 30 teams plan to attend shows how seriously the pro league takes these. No college team wanted John Calipari to have that competitive advantage in recruiting, so the smart ones are leveling the field with their own combines. Soon, more college teams will follow.

As the calendar gets packed, NBA teams might have to pick and choose which they attend. At that point, we might get little clues about which prospects they’re scouting hardest.