The Golden State Warriors dismissed assistant coach Darren Erman for a "violation of company policy" in early April and provided no further details regarding why he was let go. It turns out he was reportedly recording conversations without the knowledge of others.
Chris Broussard of ESPN The Magazine reports Erman would either be present for meetings or simply leave his phone behind to record talks between other members of the coaching staff and team. A source said what he did with the information was unknown:
He was taping everything. Taping pregame speeches wouldn't have been that bad, but he was taping guys just sitting around talking in the coaches' office. ...
Was he taping it for himself or was he taping it for management? That's not known. But he had a lot of communication with members of the front office.
The firing of Erman garnered a lot of attention because it came shortly after the team reassigned fellow assistant coach Brian Scalabrine. Given the team's strong regular season, shaking up the coaching staff so close to the playoffs seemed odd.
Erman was hired by the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
In the aftermath of his departure from the Warriors, which league sources say stemmed from a single taped conversation of Warriors coaches who had been working to undermine his game preparation and relationships with players, Erman accepted the job to return to Boston where his NBA coaching career began in 2007.
"Darren worked with us for four years and he was one of the hardest working, most competent and intelligent members of our organization," Ainge told Yahoo Sports. "We welcome him back."
At the time, Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group passed along comments from head coach Mark Jackson, who would only say he made a mistake but added he was still rooting for him to bounce back as a coach:
He made a mistake. 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. I'm pulling for him to move on and become a great coach, and I believe that that can happen.
It's just tough. I'm pulling for him. The right decision was made, and we move forward, but certainly I'm pulling for him to bounce back and get back on the road that he was on.
The Warriors had no way of knowing what was happening with the recordings, and that ultimately forced them to act. Clearly, Jackson believed Erman could be a valuable asset as a coach, but once something like secret taping is discovered, it's hard to rebuild trust within that organization.
Golden State won 51 games during the regular season and is tied at two with the Los Angeles Clippers in the opening round of the playoffs. As Broussard notes, however, the volatility around the coaching staff has been an issue.
The report states Scalabrine was moved to the D-League due to his attitude toward other coaches, including Jackson, and then Erman started acting out of character shortly before the recording was discovered.
The Warriors players must find a way to make sure all of the drama doesn't become an issue as they head into the business end of the first round. The situation with Erman was seemingly over, but the new report is going to raise further questions.
There's no doubt they have enough talent on the roster, led by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, to make some serious noise in the playoffs. But off-court distractions can derail any team, and the Warriors must work once again to prevent that from happening.
Game 5 between the Warriors and Clippers is scheduled for Tuesday night.