By Marcus Thompson
Wednesday, April 27th, 2011 at 11:53 am in Uncategorized.
The Warriors announced the team is firing coach Keith Smart.
Smart, who led the Warriors to a 36-46 record in his first full season as head coach, will not be retained by the Warriors, who declined to pick up the option on his contract.
“You’re always prepared for that possibility,” Smart said in a phone interview. “From my career playing and as a coach, you were always in that position. You always took things year by year. I knew the job was trying to get the team moving in the right direction, get the players trying to play the right way, and if it worked out, it worked out. And if it didn’t, I proved I can coach in the NBA and run a basketball team.”
The move comes less than two weeks after the season ended. Co-owner Joe Lacob, Larry Riley, executive vice president of basketball operations, and Bob Meyers, the VP of basketball ops, collaborated on the decision.
Smart was named head coach just before training camp, when Lacob fired then-coach Don Nelson. Though he led the Warriors to a 10-game improvement, it wasn’t enough to keep his job.
“I don’t know if it was ever going to be a fair shot,” Smart said. “I was put in a situation to try to coach this team and get this headed in the right direction. Fair or not fair, who knows? But certain things had to fall in place for it to happen.”
Smart said his ties with the organization have been completely severed after eight years, the first seven as an assistant. He said the end is tough because, unlike previous stops, he “had a chance to grow roots” in the Bay Area. He said he is hoping to land another head coaching job. He said he will be on a bench next season, even if that means taking a job as an assistant.
Smart was 9-31 when he served as interim coach for Cleveland in 2002-03. He now has a career-record of 45-77.
“It’s never easy to make difficult decisions, especially when it involves someone that we have a great deal of respect for like Keith Smart,” co-owner Joe Lacob said in a press release. “I think Keith did an admirable job this season and he should be commended for many of the positive things that transpired both on and off the floor. The team showed improvement and their effort was never in question. However, we’ve elected to pursue a new path.”