With the future of embattled Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson looking foggier than a March morning in San Francisco, superstar Stephen Curry is speaking out in an effort to keep his coach around.
Curry, clearly, is opting to rally around Jackson. You have to wonder if that could potentially put management at odds with its star (who already is playing at a discounted rate) and how that impacts the future. Curry went as far as declaring he wanted to be heard before management decided what to do with Jackson (extend his contract or fire him are the likely options).
It might seem strange that Jackson, who has presided over the most successful period in recent Warriors history, needs any help to keep his job. But Jackson's recent re-assignment of well-respected assistant Brian Scalabrine stirred up talk about the head coach's repeated struggles to run a unified staff.
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski broke the story on Scalabrine, and also cited last year's rift between Jackson and former assistant Mike Malone in calling Jackson's team an "increasingly dysfunctional atmosphere."
Per Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle, Jackson has long been an extremely controlling presence in the locker room:
League sources say Jackson is very insecure about his assistants getting credit. He doesn't allow them to speak on the record to print media, and Scalabrine did not respond to requests from The Chronicle for a comment.
Whatever's happening with Jackson and the coaching staff isn't affecting the endorsements rolling in from the players on the roster. Thompson also noted there were other players—not just Curry—who staunchly support their coach, probably because they sense his time might be running out.
Thompson wrote: "Multiple players have told me they get the sense Jackson could end up leaving – whether it is by Jackson’s choice or management’s."
Per Ethan Sherwood Strauss of Truehoop, Curry jumped to Jackson's defense almost immediately after news about Scalabrine surfaced:
Steph Curry on whether he expects to have input on whether MJax stays or goes: "I hope they ask, ya, for sure. I'll give my honest opinion"— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) March 26, 2014
Curry: "We're 2 years removed from being a terrible basketball team." Credits Jackson with the transformation. "I support coach 100%"— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) March 26, 2014
Though guys like Curry are talking, it's much more telling that management has been silent. No vote of confidence. No contract extension giving Jackson security beyond next season. No comment. Nothing.
The ownership group, led by Joe Lacob, is impatient. This is a team the front office believes is built to compete for a title right now, and even by the most optimistic measure, the Warriors are a notch below the truly elite clubs in the league.
Lacob expressed disappointment in Jackson during a radio interview earlier this year, and Jackson, for his part, has reportedly pursued other coaching gigs with the Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets over the past couple of years, per Wojnarowski.
It seems both parties are aware the marriage could soon be over.
Jackson's not a perfect coach by any stretch. But if the Warriors were to cut ties with him, it'd be difficult to pinpoint a free-agent coach who could come in and immediately elevate the Dubs to the championship level they crave.
And who knows how the players would react to their beloved coach getting a pink slip (or walking away of his own accord)? The effect on the roster's chemistry could be disastrous.
Golden State has to get through this season, and it hopes to do so in a way that includes at least a couple of playoff series wins.
Expect a decision to be made on Jackson quickly after the postseason, though. He'll be on the final year of his deal next season, and there's no way management will want a lame duck—and an increasingly controversial one at that—running the show.
And if the Dubs bow out of the playoffs early, the axe could fall almost immediately—player support be damned.