Mark Jackson fired as Golden State Warriors head coach

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For the fourth time in the last year the coach of a 50-win team has been fired, this time over the protestations of the team’s star player. We’ll see if it works out better for the Warriors than it did for the Nuggets or Grizzlies (the Clippers did it as well but got an upgrade and improved) .

Mark Jackson has been fired as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors despite a 51-win season and consecutive playoff appearances, the team announced Tuesday.

“It’s never easy to make a decision of this nature,” said General Manager Bob Myers. “Mark has accomplished many good things during his three years with the organization, including his role in helping elevate this team into a better position than it was when he arrived nearly 36 months ago. We’re appreciative of his dedication and commitment since his arrival and are extremely grateful for his contributions. However, as an organization, we simply feel it’s best to move in a different direction at this time.”

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports lays out the case against Jackson, which was primarily about personality conflicts and clashes with management:

Jackson clashed constantly with management and struggled to manage his coaching staff during his Warriors tenure. Jackson’s disinterest in game preparation and reluctance to practice despite a mostly young and gifted roster played a part in management’s reluctance to commit long term to him, league sources said.

Jackson relied on an assistant coach, Darren Erman, to build a top-five defense, but Erman was fired late in the season after an incident that involved the taping of a conversation among the coaching staff.

I will confirm some of this from my sources — Jackson was seen as a motivator, he had a strong personality and put his religious beliefs front and center (which worked for key players on this team), but not good at Xs and Os, he left that to his assistants then clashed with them over it. Both Brian Scalabrine, who was demoted to the D-League after Jackson tried to fire him in front of the team, and Erman (who felt so undermined by Jackson that he started surreptitiously recording conversations, which led to his dismissal) were favorites of owner Joe Lacob and management.

This is a hands-on ownership group and rubbing them the wrong way was not going to go well for Jackson.

MORE FROM CSN BAY AREA: Five factors in the Jackson decision

Don’t think this was all one sided.

That said, Jackson had a lot of support in the Warriors locker room — Stephen Curry has been the lead cheerleader and called for Jackson to be retained. Klay Thompson, Jermaine O’Neal and others had his support. I will add a lot of the players understood the load the assistant coaches on this team had to carry. Still, the Warriors did win 51 games and advance to the playoffs in consecutive years under Jackson, the first time that has happened for the franchise since the 1990s. He was a good motivator but missed what Mike Malone brought (Malone left to take the head job of the Sacramento Kings).

The Lakers will now add Jackson to their already lengthy list of coaching candidates, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

This puts a lot of pressure on management to find an upgrade.

It is reported Lacob and management want to go after Steve Kerr, which is why they to move quickly before he signs with the Knicks, a deal that is close but not finalized. The other name thrown around as a potential coach is Stan Van Gundy. Other prominent names may surface as well (in terms of on the court style George Karl could be a great fit).

If the Warriors take a step back management has questions to answer. Hard ones.

Marreese Speights opts out of Clippers contract

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The Clippers are unraveling.

Of course, whether they can re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the big questions. But they also must deal with smaller matters in free agency – like Marreese Speights.

Speights will opt out, his agent tweeted:

The Clippers will hold Speights’ Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), allowing them to give him a starting salary up to $2,540,346 without using cap space or the mid-level exception.

The 29-year-old Speights, a stretch five who takes charges, fits the modern NBA. He could probably get more if he seeks it.

The Clippers won’t have cap space unless they lose Paul and Griffin, and at that point, re-signing a veteran like Speights is of little use. So, it would likely require the taxpayer mid-level exception or Speights taking a discount to keep him.

Luc Mbah a Moute can and likely will also opt out, and he’ll fall in the same Non-Bird situation. The Clippers would likely prioritize their mid-level exception for him – if it’s enough for either player.

Keeping Paul and Griffin is of the utmost importance, but that’s not the Clippers’ only challenge. Even if they keep those two stars, assembling even a decent supporting cast will difficult. Possibly losing J.J. Redick is the main issue there, but handling Speights’ and Mbah a Moute’s roster spots will also be pivotal.

Warriors struggle to get Zaza Pachulia’s 2017 NBA Finals hat on his big head (video)

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Zaza Pachulia became the villain of the Western Conference finals when he injured Kawhi Leonard and torpedoed the Spurs chances of upsetting the Warriors.

But his teammates stood by him – then shared this fun moment with him after Golden State won the West.

Reporter asks Spanish-speaking Manu Ginobili whether he just announced retirement (video)

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Manu Ginobili received an emotional sendoff in the Spurs’ season-ending – and maybe Ginobili’s career-ending – loss to the Warriors last night.

The postgame press conference featured a lighthearted moment when, after the Argentinian guard answered a couple questions in Spanish, an American reporter – not wanting to miss big news – asked whether Ginobili had just announced his retirement.

No, Ginobili assured the reporter. He says he plans to take a few weeks to consider his options.

Warriors make most dominant playoff run ever to NBA Finals

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Moses Malone famously predicted the 76ers team would go “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” in the 1983 playoffs, sweeping all three rounds in four games. Philadelphia didn’t quite do it – sweeping the Knicks, beating the Bucks in five then sweeping the Lakers for the title.

Thirty-four years later, an NBA team went “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” for the first time.

Golden State swept the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Spurs in four-game series. But with an extra playoff round, the Warriors’ 12-0 run merely gets them to the Finals.

It’s the ninth undefeated run to the Finals, third since the league adopted four playoff rounds in 1984 and first since the first round became best-of-seven. The Lakers went 11-0 in the playoffs en route to the Finals in 2001 and 1989.

By winning an extra game and outscoring opponents by 16.3 points per game, Golden State now claims the most dominant postseason run to the NBA Finals ever.

Here are the top paths to the Finals, with Finals results, by playoff…

Record (point difference per game in parentheses):

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Point difference per game (record in parentheses):

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This doesn’t guarantee Golden State a championship. The Cavaliers (10-1, +11.9) are on track for an elite run to the Finals themselves, and they have LeBron James.

But the Warriors put ridiculous expectations on themselves by signing Kevin Durant to join a 73-win team featuring Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. I’m unsure a Golden State title this year will be properly appreciated, but so far, the Warriors are doing all they can to clear a bar set unreasonably high.