Warriors owner explains rationale for dismissing Jackson

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OAKLAND – Hours after meeting with Mark Jackson and dismissing the coach he hired 35 months ago, Warriors CEO Joe Lacob sat in his corner office explaining why the franchise would fire its most successful coach over the past two decades.

Proficiency, Lacob conceded, was not the primary factor behind his decision.

“The decision to not bring Mark back is not willy-nilly; there are reasons,” Lacob said Tuesday. “It’s less based on performance, that is win-loss record, and perhaps slightly more based on overall philosophy.”

The Warriors finished the regular season 51-31, their best record since 1991-92. They were coming off consecutive postseason appearances for the first time ’92. Their season ended with a Game 7 playoff to the Clippers on Saturday in Los Angeles.

When I asked Lacob if the team’s record was unsatisfactory, he said that was not the case.

“I would not say it’s unsatisfactory,” Lacob said. “I would say that it did not meet our goals.”

Lacob described the team’s primary goals as being among the top four teams in the Western Conference. The Warriors, for the second year in a row, finished sixth.

RELATED: Seven names to watch in Golden State coaching search

“We did improve the team, on paper, and we thought that was a reasonable expectation,” he said, referring mostly to the addition of forward Andre Iguodala. “We did not achieve that. We had a good year, but just didn’t excel at the level we had hoped to.”

There were contributing factors, including injuries, which Lacob acknowledged. Starting center Andrew Bogut lost 15 games due to injuries and a suspension and was not available in the postseason. Backup center Jermaine O’Neal missed 38 games with injuries. Another backup center, Festus Ezeli, missed all 82 games after undergoing knee surgery. Iguodala missed 19 games with a hamstring injury and knee tendinitis. Power forward David Lee missed 13 games.

Lacob said the reasons behind Jackson’s termination were broader than the record or even the strategy he employed. He said Jackson’s relationship with the organization was less than “ideal.”

Put another way, Lacob indicated Jackson’s coaching career would be better served if he cultivated relationships beyond those involving his players and staff.

Read more on the Warriors from CSN Bay Area by clicking here.

Indeed, Lacob insisted he did not believe Jackson, in his third season as a coach, was tactically inferior to Clippers coach Doc Rivers, a veteran of 15 seasons on the bench.

Yet the Warriors brain trust – with Lacob and general manager Bob Myers at the top – unanimously decided they would be better off with another head coach.

“There is an element of that probably weighs on my thinking, certainly, and maybe on Bob’s, that there is the right coach for the right time and the right situation,” Lacob said. “And it’s our feeling at this point in time, that he’s probably not the right coach for us, going forward, given all of the circumstances.”

Thunder pick up Paul George in his return to Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George made a winning return to Indiana, hitting the clinching free throws with 10.7 seconds left in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 100-95 victory over the Pacers on Wednesday night.

Steven Adams had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Russell Westbrook finished with 10 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists in his ninth triple-double this season. The Thunder have won two straight on the road.

Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 19 points and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15. Indiana had a chance to tie the score after getting the ball back with 15.2 seconds left, but George got a steal then hit a couple free throws.

The Pacers’ winning streak ended at four.

But the highly anticipated matchup between George and Oladipo, the key components in last summer’s blockbuster trade, didn’t go as expected.

George was booed loudly during introductions and every time he touched the ball. Fans only cheered for George when he was called for a foul or made a mistake and it seemed to take a toll on the four-time All-Star. He finished 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting, had two rebounds and four turnovers.

Oladipo, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, didn’t have a typical night either. He was 9 of 26 with five rebounds and six assists.

The result: Both teams struggled.

Indiana led 27-22 after one but gave the lead right back by allowing Oklahoma City to start the second quarter on a 9-0 spurt.

After the Pacers answered with a 9-0 run, the Thunder closed the half on a 9-3 spurt to make it 51-46.

The trend continued in the second half.

Indiana charged back to take a 63-59 lead before the Thunder used an 11-2 run to pull out to a 73-69 lead going into the fourth.

Oklahoma City extended the lead to 92-81 with 5:16 to go but only scored six points the rest of the way. That was just enough to hold on.

TIP-INS

Thunder: Oklahoma City is 4-10 on the road. … Oklahoma City got its first series split with the Pacers since 2012-13. … Oklahoma City had 17 offensive rebounds and was 13 of 29 on 3-pointers.

Pacers: Thaddeus Young had 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals. … Made 11 3s but fell to 14-3 when making 10 or more 3-pointers in a game this season. … Center Myles Turner had three blocks, his 12th game this season with three or more. … Former Colts coach Tony Dungy attended the game. He’s in town for Thursday night’s NFL game between the Colts and Broncos.

ALL-STAR DAY

The Pacers got a win before they even took the floor.

A little less than three hours before tip, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Indiana would host the 2021 All-Star Game. It will be the first time the Pacers have hosted the marquee event since 1985.

The move comes seven months after Larry Bird hand-delivered the formal proposal at the league’s New York headquarters in an IndyCar.

UP NEXT

Thunder: Faces Philadelphia on Friday, trying to improve to 17-1 in the series since moving to Oklahoma City.

Pacers: Host Detroit on Friday, seeking a seventh straight home win in the series.

 

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.