Prior to the season Golden State Head Coach Mark Jackson proclaimed that he had a playoff team, a team capable of surprising people in the Western Conference. He was wrong. The Warriors dealt with numerous injuries to key players throughout the season, they traded away Monta Ellis and once again finished with one of worst records in the NBA. It was their finish to the season that created a lot of questions about whether the Warriors were “tanking.” After all, given the way their draft pick sets up this year and the protection that is on it, it made more sense for Golden State to lose to preserve that pick. Golden State went 1-9 in their final ten games and Mark Jackson finished his first season as a head coach in the NBA with a sour taste in his mouth but still has a high draft pick in his back pocket to improve moving forward.
Mark Jackson joined KNBR in San Francisco with Mr. T to talk about the idea that the Warriors were tanking at the end of the season to get a better draft pick, what he thinks about the NBA Playoffs this year, how involved he will be in the offseason when it comes to scouting NBA Draft prospects, and how tough it is to deal with malcontents and what he looks for when scouting players with baggage.
On the idea that the Warriors were tanking at the end of the season for a better draft pick:
“To rewind the last 10 or 15 games or whatever it was, people thought we were tanking then and we have legitimate injuries. We have three guys the last three days that have had surgery, including Andrew (Bogut) today, David Lee yesterday and Steph Curry on Wednesday. Legitimate injuries. David came in and was concerned and couldn’t play. Nate Robinson had 30 points one night and practiced for about 30 minutes the next day and felt something in his leg and has not run or practiced since then. Dominic McGuire and Brandon Rush both because of playing more minutes than they have played their whole career had tendinitis a week ago probably and we had to stay on top of that. I think ultimately it was wear and tear. The shortened season hurt but as a coach and as a player the mindset is whoever is on the floor our identity remains the same and we’re trying to win. That being said when you get down to your two games left, three games left and we were in Minnesota down 20 and if we wanted to tank we would’ve tanked then and we had legitimate reason to but we fight, we scratch, we claw and we find a way to win the ballgame. You understand what’s right for the organization, the future and you would be foolish not to but at the same time our job is to go out, put the best product out there and compete. I thought it was a great opportunity to let the young guys play. They battled, competed and had a chance to win.”
On the postseason and what he sees from the teams in the West:
“I think it’s going to be a great postseason for this league. Looking at the Western Conference in particular some very, very dangerous teams. You’re talking about the Spurs. Know how to play, they execute you to death, they don’t beat themselves, they’re extremely well coached and I can see them going to the Finals and having a legitimate chance. Oklahoma City (is) young, talented, athletic, well coached, two superstars and a dangerous out. I think the Lakers with Kobe Bryant and those two big guys can heat up and beat anybody. It’s going to be interesting and I think Memphis is a heck of a basketball team. Zach Randolph if he is back and healthy, they know how to play, they defend and they can score at every position. It’s exciting and I’m going to sit back as a fan and certainly embrace it and have fun watching it.”
How involved he will be in the pre-draft process:
“I’ll be very involved. Fortunately I’ve taken a job where they invite my input and they give me an opportunity to have an opinion. I have tremendous respect for them and I was here, the one workout I saw last year was Klay Thompson’s where he was by far the best player and felt like we got a great player and the future is very bright with him so I will be around. We will make the decision collectively obviously with Joe, Peter and Bob. It’s going to be their decision at the end of the day but fortunate enough that I’m in a situation where they do take our input.”
What he looks for when deciding if he would be willing to coach or accept a player with some baggage:
“You have to pay attention to it but one thing you don’t want to do is read too much into it. You can also blame it on hey was this guy coached properly? Did he have a father figure? Did anybody teach him the proper things to do and how to act during timeouts and when adversity sets in? You have to make sure is the guy coachable? Can I take him from wherever he is today and make him better and that is by spending time with these guys, sitting down with them, interviewing them, understanding where they came from, how they were raised and their passion. All of those things play a factor in whether you decide to take a guy or not.”