Smart: “Fair or Not, Who Knows?”

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.”

Marcus Thompson

  • Grey Warden

    In all fairness, he was given a crappy bench to begin with and didn’t have much to work with. He did the best he could, even if he did abandon his ideals in the beginning about getting his starters some rest. After the DLee elbow injury, the team started losing, and Smart reverted to the “win at all costs” motto to save his job and started riding his starters (Ellis and DWright mostly) with heavy minutes.

    He also had some questionable substitution patterns, and playing Radmanovic minutes when he couldn’t even hit the broadside of a barn.

    On the plus side, he drew up brilliant inbound plays and got along with most of the players.

    Wish KSmart the best of luck wherever he heads to next. I’m sure he will land a position somewhere in the league whether it be HC or AC.

  • StephsMouthGuard

    Definitely not a fair move. He wasn’t given a great line-up, but we all knew this would happen. All I know is, they better not hire Mike D’Antoni.

  • TnSD11

    Marcus…Smart’s career record doesn’t add up.

    I think you meant 45-77…

  • DW

    What can you do? The writing was on the wall the whole year. Kinda sad though because of the hand he was dealt. Lacob has gotta deliver next year.

  • Swopa

    I basically agree with Grey Warden on the bind Smart was in (and his flaws), and especially with DW about the pressure on Lacob.

    Allow me to quote myself from last July, when the debate was whether to fire Nellie:


    The odds are, any new coach Lacob hires isn’t going to last more than two years. (If you base your judgment on Warriors history, the OVERWHELMING odds are that the coach won’t last more than two years.)

    So you’re not just looking for a new coach. You’re looking for someone who is so good, so right that he’s going to beat the odds.

    How confident are you that Lacob — who’s never hired a coach before — is going to be able to find that guy on short notice? Especially a “young coach,” quite likely meaning someone who’s never been an NBA head coach? Is Lacob going to know, oh yes, this guy will make good X-and-O decisions in crunch time, and call good plays out of timeouts?

    Are you confident enough to bet Stephen Curry’s future on it?

    Because if the next coach flames out quickly, and still-floundering, still-directionless GS has to start *another* “new era* right at the time he’s debating whether to sign a contract extension, it might make a difference whether Lacob makes the right choice now or not.

    All of the above is even more true now that Lacob & GS chose to spend a year spinning their wheels under Smart.

    Especially with the implied/stated promise to make the playoffs next season, Lacob has put himself under enormous pressure to make a “safe” pick for the next coach rather than a bold (and implicitly risky) one… even though, ironically, there’s no guarantee that an experienced coach (whether Sloan, JVG, Adelman, or whoever) won’t flame out with this GS roster.

    No matter what you think of Nellie or Keith Smart, if Lacob brings GS its 3rd head coach in 3 seasons and the team’s W-L record goes backwards, Lacob is going to be every bit the leaguewide joke Cohan was. How much of a chance can he afford to take?

  • shobbrobb

    Understand that no other coach couldve done much better than Keith Smart although i do totally think he mishandled Stephen Curry,Joe Lacob is firing everyone but the people he should get rid of.He has lost many fans and if he loses next year the fanbase will continue to dwindle especially after the comments he made about Warrior fans earlier this year.

  • JustPuked

    The only in-house coach that wouldn’t have been fired is Robert “Teflon” Rowell.

  • Earl Monroe

    The attendance numbers do not bear out that the team is losing fans

  • Earl Monroe

    In fact attendance went up this year 2011-766,398 2010- 739,120

    Posters often think that everything is the end of the world, basketball is entertainment to many fans, Warriors win thats cool they lose thats cool they went to the game ate a bit drank a bit had a good time and went home, next day they did not complain about Bob Fitzgerald because they don’t even know who is, Robert Rowell
    is so far away from the normal fan…….

  • Ricky B

    Keith was definitely a “transition coach”. Name KS a head coach. If he makes the playoffs – great!! if not, cut him loose.

    This team better deliver next season. We have heard enough excuses and enough throwing people under the bus. It is freakin time to deliver.

    I can’t wait for Ellison to buy up the Hornets and potentially move the team to SJ. This will definitely raise up the ante when you have competition in the same town – otherwise its all talk and plans and no action.

    PS. Let Biedrins go. Need the cap space for someone who can deliver.

  • Keith Smart

    I couldn’t make chicken soup out of chicken sh*t

  • ramg529

    Without a doubt the right move to make.

    To succeed, Smart needed people skills and a sound basketball mind. Smart’s got the first one down pat: I’m sure he’s an all-around good guy, good motivator, honest and upfront, etc… The players respected him.

    However, his failures:

    Implementing an offense that constituted 80% “motion” and 20% pick-and-roll when it should be the other way around.

    Dividing the point guard responsibilities in the first half of the season equally between Monta and Curry. There’s no WAY Monta should be running the team….or any team for that matter. Monta should be deferring to Curry and Smart should have realized this.

    His incessant feeding of Andrins in the post to begin games and begin 3rd quarters, arguably one of the worst offensive players in the NBA, and then complaining during post-game interviews of slow starts.

    Trying to force David Lee down in the low block for almost half the season when that’s not his game at all.

    Holding a double standard with Curry vs. Monta when it came to bone-headed mistakes. If you’re going to hold Curry accountable for glaring mistakes, do so with Monta as well.

    Not developing his bench nor giving consistent minutes, enough where everyone knew their role.

    Inexplicable substitution pattersn…

    Whatever,I can go on…He just frustrated the hell out of me the whole year.

    Glad to see him gone…

  • W’s in 2010

    I think saying Smart was dealt a weak hand is BS. You give Nellie a guy who averaged 20/11 last year, and DWright and we would have more than 36 wins. Just think, 5 more wins and we’re 41-41, .500 team. He should have pulled the plug on Biedrins sooner, Nellie would have. He should have utilized Curry’s shooting alot better. Dude is nearly a 50/40/90 player, how in the heck you can’t get more shots out of him? And where the hell was the pick and roll all year? DLee went from one of the best pick and roll men to a pick and pop guy. Pretty much every player had a down year, except for DWright who benefited from an increase in mins/shots.

  • Garrett

    I gotta admit I’m gonna miss Keith Smart…yeah he overplayed the starters and tried to encourage some players that shoudn’t have been kept on the team from last season BUT.. I can’t throw him under the bus for honestly trying to make a good thing out of a bad situation. A 10 game improvement isn’t bad but ultimately this franchise needs to return .500 and beyond basketball. I think one huge knock against smart that I have is that he didn’t do enough to get Jeff Adrien and Jeremy Lin involved, not to mention his unspoken beef with Charlie Bell , Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric..although no one here will argue that they were worth it.. I’m a FAN and ill support ALL MY DUBs . This move shows that Management has BIG plans and i hope they can execute

  • robert rowell

    #12, good. we were all waiting anxiously to hear just how much better nellie would’ve done it. we can all sleep soundly this offseason.

    sorry to point out the obvious: this team lacks talent on its roster and intelligence in its front office. until the two are upgraded, nothing much will change no matter who the suit at the top of the bench is.

    this just in: smart got fired for not “playing Lin enough.”

    Let’s get Tropical

  • slamdunk

    Smart takes the fall, even though he was dealt a losing hand to begin with. Only a hand full of decent players with no center and a shallow bench, with a GM who should have gotten fired along with Nellie. Sure there may be a better coach out there, but until you improve your lineup and dump the Riley/Rowell duo, this organization will continue to stink. Now we have to watch Riley waste ANOTHER draft pick on the wrong player. Great move by Lacob to renew this guy’s contract, when is Ellison going to bring in the Hornets? At least they are in the playoffs.

  • Smart definitely had his opportunity to shine – and was only sub par. The team has some players he had should have been closer to a .500 squad. Losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road was reason enough for dismissal!

    For reasons well stated above – I won’t go into details about why Smart didn’t get his team option renewed.

    Hiring a young head coach who takes Lacob’s direction won’t make a bit of difference if he doesn’t have the personnel. Lacob/Riley/Meyers/Rowell – they’re on the clock now. Let’s see them surprise us to the upside for once! Please!

  • Rowell is just doing the books now. Why keep mentioning him like the guy is making personnel decisions. Riley is and he has done well. Warriors could have won 20 more, if David Lee did not get his elbow injured. Smart could have won 46 then. Smart has

  • some guy

    our bench of Reggie, Vlad, Lou, Carney/Thornton & Udoh is better than having no bench at all like last season due to injury…

    seriously, most nights the 2-5’s was Chris Hunter/Mikki Moore, Devean George/Coby Karl/Cartier Martin and Vlad/Reggie.

    the only real downgrade was CJ to Acie Law/?
    (? = Reggie? Monta? Law only played 632 minutes…)

    he also wasted Charlie Bell who sucks, but defensively he contributes. he did play 1611 minutes last season for a playoff team in the Bucks, yet only gets 171 for the dubs?

    go look at some other benches in the NBA… i find it funny that guys who were good bench players on other teams like Lou in PHX and Charlie in MIL suddenly are crap to dub fans.

  • Ewok

    Frankly speaking, Smart should have been given another year. Tops.

    You can’t rebuild a team with just one season. The most you can do is lay the groundwork or foundation and improve the W’s.

    He does have a team that can manage to reach the playoffs. But You can’t expect much from him if his key players are injured or has become inept all of a sudden. David Lee was injured for awhile and Biedrins displayed good potential to play in the D-league.

    A coach can only do so much. It is not his fault that Biedrins caved in to his shell and is untradeable with all the money he is getting…

    The only way his firing can be justified is if 1) We need to go to another direction which is supposedly a better one, 2) The next coach has a marquee reputation and record(Jerry Sloan. If we will acquire a coach who happens to be an assisnt of another coach from another team, then that is really insulting to KSmart and obviously, politics is at play here. My opinion.

    I think he should be rehired by the Warriors organization again as an assistant to the next coach. I really think so. KSmart is a product of this organization.

  • Beardo

    Fair = Firing Riley and Rowell two effn seasons ago!!!

  • sincewilt

    If Lacob kept Riley and (gasp!) Rowell, he HAD to drop Smart. I would have let Rowell and Riley go before Smart, butSmart was a close call. If they get a rising star or an established winner (Van Gundy?) it’ll be a good deal.

  • Bucky

    Smart was dealt a poor hand, but he didn’t make the best out of it. He didn’t make them play better defense. He had double standards for certain players. He overplayed his starters, which caused them to play poor defense. He couldn’t develop players. A better coach may not have gotten more wins, but he would’ve developed the team to be in a better situation for next year.

  • Tdubb

    There is no doubt that Smart was dealt a poor had. Playoff’s or bust in one year? Three of your best players injured during (Curry, Lee, Epke)important stretches? Oh and build a bench with D-League players? They finally looked like a team by the end of the season and you fire the coach? Good luck bringing in a winning retread(Van Gundy, Sloan, Adelman….etc)Find me a low post presence. Find me another scorer, defender or leader from the bench. What I’m trying to say in my rant is Keith Smart will be a good head coach in this league. He’s already a class act!

  • oaktownlar

    The Dubs need a change in CULTURE–too long have they had a culture of no discipline–for that reason alone Smart had to go–but of course that should have happened last year, along with all the other management types, inlcuding Riley. It will take a long time to build that culture, but we need a bold move, please not a retread (#5 Swopa’s analyis is probably spot-on, but depressing). I think we need a respected point guard who can inspire the whole team, and really teach Curry the ropes before it’s too late. How’s this for a bold–if risky move: Jason Kidd anyone? I think he has one year left on his contract, but would he retire to come home as head coach? Just a (crazy) thought.

  • Earl Monroe

    L-cob needs to get Bill Laimbeer in here

  • Marc

    Who cares

  • Earl Monroe

    On the question of fair or not? I know, its very fair

  • thewarriorsrule

    Will have to agree with Posts #11 and 12

  • pam

    is shaw better than smart? I don’t think so

  • SF Warriors

    Kieth Smart got burned what did he have look at the team he had. What coach would’ve done better with that squad. A scape goat for the new owners to fire to bring in thier man. I wish Smart good luck but hope this isnt another huge mistake that the warriors have been cursed with since traiding away Wilt Chamberlian….

  • Desert Rat

    Curry needs to take the time off, rehab his ankle and be ready to play. Monta can’t continue to play 40 plus minutes a game, or be asked to play point. DWright was awsome, if he has the same year, we can improve. You can’t fix everything in one year, we need to start with a stronger bench so all our starters can finish a game! Draft players who can come off the bench and our the right height for the position; a 6-8 guard, 6-10 or more Forward or a back up center. All of our draft picks should be strong on defense and big! Their job is to keep us in the game while the “offense” rests. Play Lee to his strength, use the pick & roll, the injury was extreme and hurt him more than he let on. he had to change his offense and defense because of the damage to his arm. He will be great next year and with a new coach who will utilize his skills and play him where he belongs he will be worth close to what we are paying him. As for the center position, if AB can’t come back and give us 20-25 good minutes, bench him and move on, he will still count on our cap even if you buy him out. We should pick up “any” free agent center we can sign as a back-up or starter at center because I don’t think AB can get it done. As for the new coach, it almost has to be a current assitant (LA or Dallas) due to our lack of talent and culture(lack of discipline)on this team. No name brand coach is going to tie his reputation to this franchise. I don’t think Riley is as bad as most of you here, but this draft and free agent market will determine his future. We all are in a wait and see mode for the next 30-60 days. Next year, if we improve there will be several Good/Great free agents who might come to GSW if they see a change and think the team can move past the first round of the playoffs. Improve the bench, add a starter, hire a disciplined coach who understands the game and how to manage the players, if there is a MAN in the middle to stop some of the easy baskets, we’ll know if Curry/Ellis is the right combo and wait for 2012/2013. If not then one of them will have to be traded.

  • Thanks. There is no doubt that Smart was dealt a poor had.

  • Good. Thanks for sharing with us.Smart definitely had his opportunity to shine.

  • Jeremy

    Is MTII alive? You would think the Warriors hiring The Logo would be newsworthy enough to necessitate a blog post from the Warriors beat writer.

  • Bill

    thank God the Lakers saved us from a fate worse than death by hiring Dumb Mike Brown….they’re doomed…

    also, echo sentiments of Jeremy when he points out how long it has been since this blog was updated….I guess I’ll go elsewhere…this blog is dead

  • Absolutely fair to let KS go.. He bit himself in the but for beleiving in Biedrins too much.. that caused alot of games.. He dnt score, he dnt block, he dnt rebound, what can he do besides get 4 fouls in 1 minute? he’s a waist of space