Posted on: March 18, 2010 1:15 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2010 8:11 am
Mark Jackson’s decision to sign with an agent this week has not gone unnoticed in coaching circles, where it is believed that the former All-Star point guard and current broadcaster finally will get his chance to roam the sidelines as an NBA head coach.
Jackson did not employ an agent when he was in the running for head coaching jobs in New York and Minnesota last summer and Phoenix in 2008, preferring to deal one-on-one with team executives. Jackson, 44, got passed over for all three jobs but is expected to be in demand once the NBA’s coaching carousel starts spinning at the end of April.
“Despite the economy and the potential work stoppage, there’s going to be more movement than we’ve seen in the past,” said one person involved in the coaching business.
The two most sensible landing spots for the ABC/ESPN commentator are the Clippers and Nets, according to sources familiar with both situations. Jackson lives in Los Angeles and is a native New Yorker. Despite turmoil in both organizations, the situations will be extremely attractive for top coaching candidates this summer.
One person familiar with how coaching candidates view the Clippers job described the team as being in the “best shape in the league” payroll-wise and talent-wise. There are signs that frugal owner Donald M. Sterling, who demoted and then fired former coach and GM Mike Dunleavy in recent weeks, could be ready to open his notoriously tight checkbook for a high-profile name like Jackson. The Nets, according to sources, would be viewed as more of a longer-term growth opportunity for Jackson, who has no previous coaching experience. But the cap space to sign a max free agent, the possibility of landing presumed No. 1 pick John Wall, and the team’s eventual move to a new arena in Brooklyn – one borough over from Jackson’s native Queens – might overshadow the fact that the Nets (7-61) are on their way to one of the worst seasons in NBA history.
Another situation that bears watching is Indiana, where Jackson enjoyed some of his best years as a player. Former Pacers GM Donnie Walsh, who also is represented by Jackson’s new agent, Steve Kauffman, thinks highly of Jackson and still holds sway over Pacers owner Herb Simon when it comes to transformational decisions such as a coaching hire. If the Pacers decide to dismiss Jim O’Brien after the season for a new voice, and Jackson’s communication skills and popularity within the organization will be among his biggest strengths.
Jackson’s decision to sign with Kauffman Sports Management made official his well-known private desire to leave the broadcast booth for a chance to coach. Sources familiar with Jackson’s thinking say he is cognizant of the role his lack of experience would play and is determined to recruit the most experienced assistants possible to help him make the transition. Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans and Golden State are among the other teams that could be contemplating coaching changes this summer.
Posted on: February 11, 2009 12:05 pm
I like Mike Brown. Contrary to what some of you may think, I like the Cavs. If the Lakers are No. 1 when you're handicapping title contenders, Cleveland is 1(a) and Boston is 1(b). Even if they don't make a trade by next Thursday, the Cavs have an excellent chance of winning Cleveland's first major pro sports championship since the Browns in 1964.
Some of you took it the wrong way when I criticized the Cavs -- and their owner, Dan Gilbert -- for constantly whining about officiating and the fact that Mo Williams was passed over twice for an All-Star spot. Politicking is one of the jobs of a coach. After the Lakers ended Cleveland's 23-game home winning streak Sunday, I wrote that LeBron and Gilbert should zip it when it comes to these topics and let their coach do the dirty work for them.
So I am pleased that Brown took my advice. After LeBron was called for a questionable foul on the Pacers' Danny Granger with two-tenths of a second left Tuesday night, Brown took direct aim at the official in question, Joey Crawford. Replays showed LeBron got his hand on the ball, but fouled Granger with his body. Granger made 1 of 2 from the foul line to seal a 96-95 victory, the Cavs' second straight loss. A foul you'd normally see called that late in the game, against one of the league's premier superstars? Nope. Which is why Brown did his job, ripped Crawford (though not by name), and decided to take one for the team (and his superstar) in the form of what undoubtedly will be a hefty fine.
"That last call on LeBron was the worst call I've ever been a part of," Brown said after the game. "I cannot imagine another worse call than that by that official. It was an awful call and for him to take away a basketball game from a team with (.2) seconds on the clock is irresponsible. That is an irresponsible call."
We can debate whether it was a foul or not, or whether Crawrford should've blown the whistle. But clearly, the most significant thing that comes out of this is that Brown and his superiors -- Gilbert and G.M. Danny Ferry -- have decided that the gloves are off when it comes to how LeBron is officiated. This is a good thing, because it's the coach's job to crtiticize the officials and the league, not the players' job or the owner's job. (Dan, there can only be one Mark Cuban.)
After the Lakers beat the Cavs Sunday, I asked Lamar Odom how much of an edge coach Phil Jackson gives L.A. by going to bat for his players and incessantly working the officials.
"It makes us want to work harder for him," Odom said. "When a coach has your back, you’ll always have his."
Some of you Cavs fans out there disagreed with what I wrote and ripped me six ways till All-Star Sunday about it. So if the Cavs rally around Brown's bolder approach to criticizing the officials, and if the Cavs get more calls against the Lakers than they otherwise would have, I don't expect any thank you notes. I'm good. But I'll be back to say, "You're welcome."