While other teams posturing for playoff positioning are worried about tightening postseason rotations, the Golden State Warriors don't have such a luxury available to them.
At a time the team should be coming together for the fight that lies ahead, it appears to be tearing at the seams instead.
UPDATE: at 5:15 p.m. ET on April 5 by Zach Buckley
Despite losing the second member of his staff in as many weeks, Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson expressed confidence while speaking about the recent dismissal of his assistant coach, Darren Erman.
"This is not the norm," the coach said, via Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group. "That’s OK because really in both decisions, the right decisions were made. You move forward. To me, I think it’s a great time for us as a team and an organization."
Jackson said Erman "made a mistake" but "he owns it. He’s done a lot for me, he’s done a lot for this organization, and I’m pulling for him to make a comeback."
Despite being down to only three assistants, Jackson seemed to pull a page out of Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau's book on resiliency. Turmoil aside, Jackson thinks his Warriors still have enough.
"A great pastor said, ‘You cannot fix the foundation in the middle of a storm. It’s too late then’," Jackson said. "The foundation has been laid, and it’s going to hold up. There’s no question about that."
There are certainly still questions looming about Jackson's long-term future in the Bay Area, but Saturday's media session provided the coach with something he hasn't publicly received in a long time—a vote of confidence from the front office.
"We believe that Mark is fully capable, and we’re confident in his ability to keep going in the right direction, keep propelling us like he has all year, and we believe that he’s going to continue to be successful like he has been,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers said, via Leung. “We believe in his ability the rest of the way.”
If there's any positive spin to be head out of this story, that public show of support might be it. Given the chaos he's had to endure, Jackson could certainly use those words.
--End of update--
Less than two weeks removed from the reassignment of former assistant coach Brian Scalabrine, head coach Mark Jackson's staff saw yet another shakeup Saturday. Jackson's No. 2 assistant, Darren Erman, who had been with the Warriors since 2011, was let go by the team "for a violation of company policy," as reported by Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle:
The reason behind the dismissal remains unclear, but according to Bay Area News Group's Marcus Thompson, it could have put the Warriors in a bad spot:
Warriors general manager Bob Myers addressed the dismissal in a news release, via Monte Poole of Comcast SportsNet:
This is the type of decision that would be made across the board and irrespective of position within the organization. Obviously, the timing is unfortunate but we hold all of our employees, whether in basketball operations or other aspects of the business, accountable for their actions and to the same standard. We move forward and thank Darren for his contributions.
As Myers said, the timing couldn't be much worse.
Not only are the Warriors (47-29, one-and-a-half games up on the seventh-seeded Dallas Mavericks) fighting for their playoff lives, they're still picking up the pieces from Scalabrine's demotion. Myers, per Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group, said the two moves were made independent of one another:
Somehow, this playoff pursuit—which, if successful, would give the Warriors consecutive postseason berths for the first time since 1990-91 and 1991-92—isn't even the real big-picture focus here. That would instead be the fate of Jackson, who also joined the organization in 2011.
Despite delivering the franchise just its second playoff series win since 1991, Jackson has not yet received an extension on his current contract. The team picked up his option for next season, but, for now at least, his future beyond the 2014-15 campaign remains unclear.
The front office has been largely silent on the issue, although co-owner Joe Lacob did give Jackson something of a scathing review in a February interview with Bay Area News Group's Tim Kawakami.
"We have not played as well as we need to play. We’ve been very inconsistent at home," Lacob said. "We’ve lost a couple games...that we just absolutely should’ve won. We didn’t. And I’m not sure why. The team wasn’t ready in those games. I can’t explain it."
"It was not a ringing endorsement of Jackson even though he had his team smack-dab in the middle of the Western Conference playoff picture," Bleacher Report's Matt Steinmetz noted. "But expectations are working against Jackson."
Those expectations—bolstered both by the team's strong performance in the 2013 playoffs (upset of the third-seeded Denver Nuggets, strong second-round showing against the eventual Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs) and the offseason arrival of former All-Star Andre Iguodala—have placed Jackson in a precarious position.
He's lifted the perennial cellar-dwellers out of the basement but apparently hasn't carried the Dubs as high as ownership would like. Any thoughts that Jackson isn't the right coach are not shared in the locker room, though.
The decision on Jackson's future, of course, won't be made by his players. That call belongs an ownership group responsible for establishing standards in an organization that went so many years without them.
So this roller-coaster ride will likely continue for the foreseeable future. We'll have to wait and see who's still even riding when it finally stops.