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NBA PM: Who Should Replace Mark Jackson?

Ranking the candidates to replace Mark Jackson, plus a look at all of the other openings around the league and whether or not he’s a fit for them.

Yannis Koutroupis



Florida center Patric Young is training for the 2014 NBA Draft at the IMG Academy. Basketball Insiders caught up with him to discuss his pre-draft training and get a look at his workouts.

Who Should Replace Mark Jackson?

The Golden State Warriors fired Mark Jackson today after months of speculation that they would part ways with the third-year head coach at season’s end. They were eliminated from the playoffs this past weekend after a close seven-game series against the Los Angeles Clippers that they played without their starting center Andrew Bogut. Short of winning an NBA championship, though, it just didn’t seem like there was anything Jackson could do to save his job.

His dismissal has been met with a lot of public criticism of the Warriors front office, but this was truly a decision made due to what occurred behind the scenes. On the surface, Jackson deserved an extension/raise. He guided the team to back-to-back postseason appearances, a feat they haven’t accomplished since the early 90s, and had the complete and total support of the locker room. From Stephen Curry to Jermaine O’Neal, everyone backed Jackson.

The opposite was the case with the people in the front office who actually determined Jackson’s fate. According to reports, he butted heads with everyone from the team’s owner Joe Lacob to the highly respected Jerry West. Add in his conflicts with his own coaching staff and a high-profile extortion case last year, and Jackson’s off the court failures triumphed his on the court successes – in their eyes at least.

“It’s never easy to make a decision of this nature,” said General Manager Bob Myers.  “Mark has accomplished many good things during his three years with the organization, including his role in helping elevate this team into a better position than it was when he arrived nearly 36 months ago.  We’re appreciative of his dedication and commitment since his arrival and are extremely grateful for his contributions.  However, as an organization, we simply feel it’s best to move in a different direction at this time.”

“Mark Jackson has had a big impact on the improvement of our team and the success that we’ve had over the last couple of years,” said Owner & CEO Joe Lacob.  “Nonetheless, we must make some difficult decisions in our day-to-day operations of the club and this would certainly qualify as one of those examples.  We wish Mark the best of luck in his future endeavors and thank him for his contributions over the last three years.”

The Warriors may never fully detail their exact reasoning for letting Jackson go, but because of how well he did under the public eye (121-109 in three seasons), it will always be perceived as a questionable move. It’s not unprecedented, though. Three other 50-win coaches were fired last season: Lionel Hollins of the Memphis Grizzlies, Vinny Del Negro of the Los Angeles Clippers and George Karl of the Denver Nuggets. In order for the Warriors to come out of this looking good in the long run, they have to make the right hire to replace Jackson. The Clippers undoubtedly did so by replacing Del Negro with Doc Rivers, while the jury is still out on the Nuggets and Grizzlies’ decisions. The short list of candidates is already circulating, and in today’s NBA PM we rank them in the order they should be considered, starting at the bottom:

Steve Kerr
Kerr is already the heavy favorite to become the head coach of the New York Knicks, but with close ties to Lacob he could jump to the top of their list as well. When Lacob hired Jackson he hoped he was getting the next Doc Rivers. He could take the same gamble again with Kerr considering that it paid off in a lot of ways with Jackson. Kerr would be a risky hire, though, considering his lack of experience and the way that the Warriors players felt about Jackson. They’re going to be hard to win over, especially for a first timer like Kerr. It’s a high-risk, high-reward move. The Warriors need to hedge their bets a little better with more of a sure thing due to how popular Jackson was.

Alvin Gentry
With the success of the Clippers this year and the experience he has as a head coach, Gentry has the credentials to justify giving the position to. His offensive philosophies are highly respected and effective, which bodes well for his potential to excel in Golden State. However, Gentry has been a head coach with four different teams now and only has one extensive postseason run under his belt. For a Warriors franchise that is looking to take the next step forward to contention, Gentry would be hard to embrace considering that he’s never experienced the heights they’re aspiring for. The 2009-10 season was the last time a team of his finished over .500.

Fred Hoiberg
Hoiberg has built Iowa State, his alma mater, into a national powerhouse largely based off of their perimeter play and a system that relies heavily on quality three-point shooting. Sounds like a good fit, doesn’t it? With more coaching experience than Kerr but a background as a former player as well, Hoiberg stands a better chance to earn the respect of the Warriors right away. The transition from coaching at the collegiate level to the NBA is a difficult one that many have failed at, but this a hire that would be easy to sell to their fan base. Hoiberg has his ideal job right now, though, so it’s going to take a lengthy commitment and high salary to pluck him away.

Kevin Ollie
Ollie’s stock as a coach is hotter than it ever was as a player coming off of UConn’s run to a national championship. Like Hoiberg, though, he’s very comfortable at his alma mater. Initially they were hesitant to commit and trust him in replacing the great Jim Calhoun, but Ollie has proven to be the ideal replacement. They are currently in negotiations to double his salary. However, Ollie is still willing to listen to the Los Angeles Lakers, who reportedly have interest in him, and would likely be willing to give the Warriors the same courtesy considering they’re a more attractive opening right now. With a long playing history and a system that clearly utilizes quality guard play well, Ollie is another hire that could garner some excitement in the Bay Area.

Stan Van Gundy
Two years removed from his last head coaching stint, Van Gundy has had plenty of time to rest and recharge his batteries for what seems to be an inevitable return to the sidelines. His brother Jeff has stayed away far longer than anyone ever anticipated, though, and Stan does seem content with life away of coaching. He’s caught on as an analyst now and enjoys being able to spend more time with his family in Florida. Northern California is a long way from home, but the potential of this team could be too great for him to pass on like he has the other openings that have come his way over the last two years. No disrespect to Jackson, but Stan could be sold as a clear upgrade. He’s led a team to the NBA Finals before and was let go by the Miami HEAT in-season the year they won it all in 2006. He’s been where they want to go as a franchise, knows what it takes to get there and should easily be able to pick up where Jackson has left off.

Tom Thibodeau
Thibodeau has three years left on his current contract with the Chicago Bulls, yet the Warriors are the second team along with the Lakers that feel like there’s a good enough chance to get him out of his contract and consider requesting the right to speak to him about it. He does have a reputation of overworking his players, leading to them being out of gas in the playoffs, but few get the most out of their teams like he does. It’s hard to imagine many other coaches in the league being able to guide their team to back-to-back playoff appearances without their MVP and best player like he has. While he may come with a high price tag in terms of compensation the Bulls would demand to let him out of his contract, he brings the defensive philosophies this offensive juggernaut of a squad could need to become true contenders.

Honorable mentions: Lionel Hollins and George Karl – You can’t go wrong in hiring either one of these two proven, veteran head coaches. Hollins in particular brings similar defensive credentials to Thibodeau, but wouldn’t cost them any draft picks. Early reports from Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski and local beat writer Tim Kawakami indicate, though, that the above candidates are the ones gaining the most consideration at this early point in the process.

What Happens to Jackson: Another big question now is what happens to Mark Jackson? While he was wrongfully fired in the eyes of many, the Warriors did do him a favor by letting him go early enough in the offseason to where he can go after any of the other openings in the league. Here’s some quick thoughts on how Jackson would fit with every team that is looking for a new coach right now.

  • Los Angeles Lakers – The Lakers are currently doing their homework on a long list of candidates that Jackson will probably get added to. Given their misses on previous head coaching hires, though, it’s somewhat unlikely that they would be willing to take a chance on him given all of the off the court discord that happened in Golden State. They’re looking to hit a home run and bring in someone premiere free agents want to play for. Jackson may not run guys off like Mike D’Antoni did, but he doesn’t check every box they’re looking for in their next head coach.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves – This is an intriguing fit for Jackson. The personnel certainly fits his system, although they are in desperate need of an overhaul defensively. That’s where hiring the right assistant coaches would come into play. Jackson’s players loved him and with their top player, Kevin Love, set to hit free agency, hiring a player’s coach like Jackson could help them keep one of the best players in their franchise’s history.
  • Detroit Pistons – If Jackson is going to catch on with a team immediately, it seems like it’s either going to be here or in Minnesota. They have some logjams at certain positions and a point guard in Brandon Jennings who can be difficult to utilize properly at times; Jackson could go a long way in helping both of those issues. Problem is, they need a new general manager as well. It’s hard to gauge his chances at the job without knowing who is going to be calling the shots.
  • Utah Jazz – There’s an outside chance that the Jazz could look at the improvements the Warriors made under Jackson and feel like he’s the right guy to guide their young team moving forward. If they could make similar strides over the next three seasons, they’d be very pleased. It’s early enough in the process to where Jackson can still get in the mix; no favorites have surfaced as of yet. However, based on some of the names being thrown around (Ettore Messina, Jim Boylen), they could be looking for someone who is a first-year head coach, not a second-chacne guy like Jackson.
  • New York Knicks – This could probably be classified as Jackson’s, a Brooklyn Native, dream job. He campaigned for it when Mike D’Antoni was let go, but was unable to get it. His chances probably aren’t any better now while Phil Jackson calling the shots, unfortunately for him. Jackson is looking at guys who he is familiar with in order to see his triangle offense implemented. Mark would have to be willing to completely change his philosophies and adopt Phil’s, unlikely for someone who proved to be a very capable doing things his way over the last three years.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.




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NBA Daily: The Cleveland Cavaliers Need Tyronn Lue

The Cleveland Cavaliers have faced injury adversity and a roster shakeup, and now face uncertainty regarding coach Tyronn Lue’s health.

Buddy Grizzard



The most enduring image of Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue came moments after his team sealed the 2016 NBA Finals with a third consecutive win after trailing the Golden State Warriors 3-1. As the team celebrated its historic comeback and readied to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy, one camera focused on Lue, who sat on the bench with his face buried in his hands.

The image tells a thousand words about the pressure Lue was under as Cleveland teetered on the brink of elimination for three games. Rather than sharing the euphoria of his players, it seemed that Lue’s emotions centered around the massive weight that had been lifted from his shoulders. Almost two years later, it appears that burden has caught back up with Lue, whose leave of absence for health reasons complicates things for Cleveland with the playoffs just around the corner.

“It’s like losing one of your best players,” said Cavaliers forward LeBron James after Cleveland’s 124-117 win at home over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.

Kevin Love returned from a six-week injury absence to post 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists against the Bucks. James likened Lue’s absence to the burden of trying to replace Love’s output while he was unavailable.

“We’ve got to have guys step up, just like guys trying to step up in Kev’s absence,” said James. “We have to do the same as a collective group as long as Ty needs to get himself back healthy.”

There’s optimism that Lue could return before the playoffs, but there’s a great deal of uncertainty given the seriousness of his symptoms, which reportedly included coughing up blood. Lead assistant Larry Drew, a former head coach with the Bucks and Hawks, will handle head coaching responsibilities until Lue is ready to return.

Kyle Korver played under Drew in Atlanta and said he’s confident in his ability to fill in.

“We’d love to have Ty here and healthy,” said Korver after the Bucks win. “Coach Drew has done this for a long time as well. He coached me for a full year in Atlanta. We know he’s fully capable.”

Korver also doubted Drew would introduce any major stylistic changes.

“I think LD’s been Ty’s top assistant for a reason,” said Korver. “They really think a lot alike. They coach very similarly. We miss Ty, but I think the style of what we do is going to be very similar.”

While style and approach should remain unchanged, what could an extended absence for Lue mean for the Cavaliers? Lue cemented his legacy as a leader by keeping the Cavaliers together as they fought back from a 3-1 deficit to the Warriors, but Drew hasn’t had that kind of success as a head coach.

In 2012, the Hawks had a real opportunity to reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in Atlanta history. The Hawks faced an aging Boston Celtics squad in the first round. The eighth-seed Philadelphia 76ers awaited in the second round after defeating the top-seeded Chicago Bulls.

After splitting the first two games in Atlanta, the Hawks faced a pivotal Game 3 in Boston with the opportunity to retake home court advantage. Atlanta Journal-Constitution beat writer Michael Cunningham used Synergy Sports to break down every offensive possession for Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. His conclusion? For three quarters, Rondo did not score a single basket while guarded by Hawks combo guard Kirk Hinrich.

The Hawks traded a package that included a former and a future first-round pick to obtain Hinrich from the Wizards in 2011. But in Game 3, Hinrich failed to score a point despite his effective defense. Apparently feeling the need for an offensive spark, Drew left Hinrich on the bench in the fourth quarter and turned to career journeyman Jannero Pargo.

With Hinrich out of the game, Rondo’s offense came to life as he slashed to the basket at will. Boston opened the fourth with a 13-7 run before Pargo went to the bench and Atlanta closed on a 15-7 run to force overtime. The NBA did not publish net rating data at the time, but we can now see via historical data that the Hawks were outscored by nearly 52 points per 100 possessions in Pargo’s minutes in Game 3. Rather than entrust Atlanta’s season and his own legacy to a player the Hawks traded two first-round picks to obtain, Drew went with Pargo, a career end-of-bench player.

What does this mean for the Cavaliers? It means the team needs to get Lue back. Drew and Lue are both former NBA players who have received mixed reviews as head coaches. But when his legacy was on the line, Lue pushed the right buttons.

For Drew’s part, in his first postgame press conference since Lue’s absence was announced, he remained publicly deferential.

“Coach Lue is the one who makes that decision,” said Drew when asked about lineup combinations. “That’s not my call. We look at a lot of different combinations — whether guys are starting or whether they are coming off the bench — and we assess everything.”

On the critical question of how lineups will be fine-tuned as the Cavaliers prepare for the playoffs, Drew once again emphasized Lue’s active role even as he steps away from the bench.

“I’ll talk to Ty,” said Drew. “He’s got the final say-so. Whatever he wants, then that’s what we’re going to go with. But if he tells me to make a decision, then I’ll have to make the decision.”

With Lue suffering acute symptoms, there’s no way of knowing when he will be ready to step back into the pressure cooker of a leading role for a team with championship aspirations. But the Cavaliers need him and need his steadying influence and instincts. Cleveland is a team that has battled through injuries and a major roster overhaul at the trade deadline. It also faces the pressure of James’ impending free agency decision this summer.

Now, with the playoffs just around the corner, the Cavaliers must endure uncertainty about Lue’s ability to return and lead the team. James has emphasized that Lue’s health overshadows any basketball concerns, but gave his most terse remark when asked about learning that Lue would step away on the same day Cleveland finally got Love back.

“If it’s not one thing, it’s another,” said James. “That was my reaction.”

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A Breakout Season for Joe Harris

Brooklyn Nets swingman Joe Harris talks to Basketball Insiders about his second chance with the Nets.

David Yapkowitz



The NBA is all about second chances. Sometimes players need a change of scenery, or a coach who believes in them, or just something different to reach their full potential. They may be cast aside by several teams, but eventually, they often find that right situation that allows them to flourish.

Such was the case for Joe Harris. Originally drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 33rd overall pick in the 2014 draft, Harris rarely saw the court during his time in Cleveland. He averaged about 6.4 minutes per game over the course of about one and a half seasons with the Cavaliers.

During the 2015-16 season, his second in Cleveland, he underwent season-ending foot surgery. Almost immediately after, the Cavaliers traded him to the Orlando Magic in an attempt to cut payroll due to luxury tax penalties. He would never suit up for the Magic as they cut him as soon as they traded for him.

After using the rest of that season to recover from surgery, he would sign with the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2016. He had a very strong first season in Brooklyn, but this season he’s truly broken out.

“I think a lot of it has to do with just the right situation in terms of circumstances. It’s a young team where you don’t really have anybody on the team that’s going out and getting 20 a night,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a collective effort most nights and it can be any given person depending on the situation. It’s one of those things where we’re real unselfish with the ball. A lot of guys get a lot of good looks, so your production is bound to go up just because of the system now that we’re playing.”

Known primarily as a sharpshooter in college at the University of Virginia as well as his first stop in Cleveland, Harris has started developing more of an all-around game. He’s improved his ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays as well as crashing the glass and playing strong defense.

In a relatively forgettable season record-wise for the Nets, Harris has been one of their bright spots. He’s putting up 10.1 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting from the field while playing 25.4 minutes per game. He’s up to 40.3 percent from the three-point line and he’s pulling down 3.3 rebounds. All of those numbers are career-highs.

“My role, I think, is very similar to the way I would be anywhere that I was playing. I’m a shooter, I help space the floor for guys to facilitate,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “I’m opportunistic offensively with drives and such. I’m out there to try and space the floor, knock down shots, and then play tough defensively and make sure I’m doing my part in getting defensive rebounds and that sort of stuff.”

Although Harris didn’t play much in Cleveland, he did show glimpses and flashes of the player he has blossomed into in Brooklyn. He saw action in 51 games his rookie year while knocking down 36.9 percent of his three-point attempts.

He also saw action in six playoff games during the Cavaliers’ run to the 2015 Finals. But more importantly, it was the off the court things that Harris kept with him after leaving Cleveland. The valuable guidance passed down to him from the Cavaliers veteran guys. It’s all helped mold him into the indispensable contributor he’s become for the Nets.

“Even though I wasn’t necessarily playing as much, the experience was invaluable just in terms of learning how to be a professional,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “The approach, the preparation, that sort of stuff. That’s why I learned a lot while I was there. All those good players that have had great, great, and long careers and just being able to kind of individually pick their brains and learn from them.”

When Harris came to Brooklyn two years ago, he initially signed a two-year deal with a team option after the first year. When he turned in a promising 2016-17 season, it was a no-brainer for the Nets to pick up his option. Set to make about $1.5 million this season, Harris’ contract is a steal.

However, he’s headed for unrestricted free agency this upcoming summer. Although he dealt with being a free agent before when he first signed with the Nets, it’s a different situation now. He’s likely going to be one of the most coveted wings on the market. While there’s still a bit more of the regular season left, and free agency still several months away, it’s something Harris has already thought about. If all goes well, Brooklyn is a place he can see himself staying long-term.

“Yeah, it’s one of those things that I’ll worry about that sort of decision when the time comes. But I have really enjoyed my time in Brooklyn,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a great organization with a lot of good people, and they try and do stuff the right way. I enjoy being a part of that and trying to kind of rebuild and set a good foundation for where the future of the Brooklyn Nets is.”

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 3/20/18

With most of the major NBA draft prospects eliminated from March Madness, things in the mock draft world are starting to get interesting.

Steve Kyler



A Lot of Mock Movement

With the race to the bottom in full swing in the NBA and the field of 64 in college basketball whittled down to a very sweet sixteen, there has been considerable talk in NBA circles about the impending 2018 NBA Draft class. There seems to be a more consistent view of the top 15 to 20 prospects, but there still seems to be a lack of a firm pecking order. Arizona’s Deandre Ayton seems like to the prohibitive favorite to go number one overall, but its far from a lock.

It’s important to note that these weekly Mock Draft will start to take on more of a “team driven” shape as we get closer to the mid-May NBA Combine in Chicago and more importantly once the draft order gets set. Until then, we’ll continue to drop our views of the draft class each Tuesday, until we reach May when we’ll drop the weekly Consensus Mock drafts, giving you four different views of the draft all the way to the final decisions in late June.

Here is this week’s Mock Draft:

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections and based on the standings today would convey to Philadelphia.

The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade. The pick is top four protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick is top-five protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects –

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