The Los Angeles Lakers’ search for a new head coach is slowly but surely heating up.
Just days ago, it was reported that they were looking into Darvin Ham, a highly regarded assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks, as well as Adrian Griffin, an assistant for the Toronto Raptors.
Of course, LA also reportedly has interest in established head coaches such as Utah Jazz leader Quin Snyder, Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse, the Philadelphia 76ers’ Doc Rivers and former Portland Trail Blazers head man Terry Stotts.
Another established head coach the Lakers have been rumored to be interested in is Mark Jackson, who was at the helm of the Golden State Warriors early in the Stephen Curry era.
Multiple sources have reported that LA has now interviewed Jackson.
Jackson could be a lackluster choice
Jackson, who had a long and productive career as an NBA point guard in the late 1980s and 1990s, did pretty well with the Warriors in his three seasons there from 2012 to 2014.
Right after Jackson was fired, Steve Kerr, his successor, took the Warriors to a much higher level, winning 67 games in 2015 compared to just 51 the prior year under Jackson.
To be clear, Jackson is a not a bad coach by any means. But in LA, decent or even good won’t cut it, as the Lakers are a franchise with 17 world championships, and as long as LeBron James is there and playing at a high level, it will continue to be championship or bust for them .
Jackson, who has been an analyst for NBA telecasts on ABC and ESPN for the last several years, has a laundry list of weaknesses, according to Brady Klopfer of SB Nation’s Golden State of Mind site.
Let’s start with Jackson’s “leadership” skills.
Via Silver Screen and Roll:
“The old-school mentality that Jackson has is troubling,” wrote Klopfer. “He’ll give opportunities to players who have earned their stripes over players who are just plain better (ask your local Warriors fan how much they enjoyed Jarrett Jack getting his number repeatedly called in the clutch while Curry watched helplessly). He’ll ride players incredibly hard (something I’m sure LeBron [James]AD (Anthony Davis), and Russ (Russell Westbrook) would just love), and many of his former players kindly refused to acknowledge his existence.
“Even if you’re a fan of old-school coaches, Jackson goes way too far. Gregg Popovich is an old-school coach; Mark Jackson is a confused, blathering villain from a TV show that desperately needs new writers. There are plenty of examples of this, but the most notable is when Festus Ezeli was injured, and Jackson told other players that Ezeli was cheering when they missed shots, because he wanted to look good. This led to Ezeli’s teammates confronting him, him crying, and the truth coming out: he’d done no such thing.”
The Lakers’ halfcourt offense needs an overhaul, and when Jackson was in Golden State, it wasn’t exactly the fast-breaking, fluid offensive unit it has been ever since under Kerr.
“As a player, Jackson was a pound the ball into the floor for 20 seconds, then pass for an assist type of player – fine, considering the offensive environment of his playing days,” wrote Klopfer. “But he’s kept the same mentality as a coach, eschewing ball movement for traditional point guard play. He was reluctant to play Curry — perhaps the best off-ball scorer in NBA history — off-ball, asking him to hold the rock and dish out passes instead. During Jackson’s three-year tenure, Curry attempted 10.3 threes per 100 possessions … a number that has gone up to 15.3 in the years since Jackson was fired.”
In today’s NBA, successful head coaches also need to collaborate well with their assistants and other colleagues while accepting help and input from them.
Apparently, Jackson isn’t that type of leader.
“But Jackson’s most damning trait as a coach is probably his reluctance to be anything other than the biggest dog in the yard,” wrote Klopfer. “When Jackson was fired, Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob criticized — among many other things — his former coach’s unwillingness to use his checkbook to hire the best assistants. This wasn’t necessarily due to Jackson being committed to the assistants he had, either. He had a broken relationship with Michael Malone, whom Jackson was rumored to believe was after his job. He fired Brian Scalabrine without cause in front of other players and coaches before being forced to reassign him to the D-League. And, in a truly indefensible move, Jackson asked the Warriors to ban advisor Jerry West from attending practices.”
Even worse, Jackson’s devout faith as an ordained minister was an additional problem during his days with the Warriors, as it reportedly became a wedge that divided the locker room and was one reason the team ultimately fired him.
On the other hand, James would reportedly be “enthused” if Jackson ends up winning the Lakers’ head coaching job.
He just happens to be represented by Klutch Sports, James’ agency.