“We’re trying to save our coach,” Iguodala said after a 109-105 Game 1 road win against the Los Angeles Clippers on April 19, per the San Jose Mercury News’ Diamond Leung. “Every game is pressure for us.”
According to Leung, the 30-year-old said he heard an ESPN report that Jackson, who has been on Golden State’s sidelines for three seasons, “is going to be gone.”
The Dubs have improved their regular-season record in three straight years under Jackson. They won 51 games during the regular season in 2013-14 and got their first-round series off on the right foot Saturday, but that doesn’t mean the 49-year-old coach is guaranteed to return. The three-year contract he signed in 2011 is set to expire this summer, because he has not yet been signed to an extension.
From the outside looking in, the Warriors coaching staff has been in a state of turmoil. Jackson reassigned assistant coach Brian Scalabrine to the D-League in March, while assistant Darren Erman was dismissed from the team outright.
Warriors assistant Darren Erman has been dismissed. GM Bob Myers says its serious violation of company policy.— Monte Poole (@MontePooleCSN) April 5, 2014
Despite the commotion, however, players continue to back their coach.
Iggy made a point to emphasize Jackson’s decision-making on the sidelines after the Game 1 win.
“(Jackson) did an excellent job of subbing on the fly,” he said, per USA Today’s Sam Amick. “I heard somebody try to say a knock (against Jackson) is X’s and O’s or rotations, but tonight it was almost perfect.”
Iguodala fouled out in just 20 minutes of action, which forced Jackson to rely more heavily on Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green.
All-Star point guard Stephen Curry also provided his two cents on the matter, saying that it’s on the players to help Jackson, per Leung:
It was more the message along those lines that we as players can control the vibe of what’s going on. If we’re losing and not playing the way we’re supposed to, obviously people sill start looking for answers and the head coach will get most of that blame. But if we go out and play 100 percent every night, take advantage of every opportunity out in front of us, there’s nothing they can say about it.
Support for Jackson never wavered within the locker room, even after a mediocre 9-8 start through November. Ultimately, however, the decision to either extend the coach’s contract or let him walk lies with owner Joe Lacob, according to Amick:
Lacob will keep watching and waiting. He’ll seek counsel from his revered consultant, legendary player and executive Jerry West, and make the cold and calculated decision that he bought the right to make when his group paid a then-league record $450 million.
The third-year coach is facing plenty of uncertainty, and while the team's sustained success certainly warrants a contract extension, he’ll continue to move forward one game at a time.
“My job will be determined on winning,” Jackson said, per The Associated Press (via ESPN.com). “I’m fine with that.”
Whether he's done enough winning to this point is up for debate.
The Warriors made it out of the first round last year by upsetting a 57-win Denver Nuggets team. For Jackson to keep his job through the offseason, his squad likely will have to upset yet another 57-win team to at least match last season's playoff success.
Fair or foul, a first-round exit simply might not cut it.