Former Warriors coaches Mark Jackson and Brian Scalabrine agree that philosophical differences led to the assistant’s unceremonious reassignment during the regular season.
Scalabrine outlined some of those differences in an interview on The Doug Gottlieb Show on Thursday in his third radio interview in as many days that touched on his stint with the Warriors.
“We had a very difference of opinion as far as what it takes to push and win a championship,” said Scalabrine, who as a player won an NBA title with Boston. “I don’t think championships are given out. I think championships are earned, and I just felt like along the way we thought…something was going to happen. Like it’s OK to be average. It’s OK to be .500. It’s OK to be an eighth seed, ninth seed, or move our way up to a sixth seed. I mean, that’s just not the right mentality if you’re trying to win with a team with a lot of young players.
“Generally, as a staff we really didn’t prepare our team to be championship-caliber nor did we prepare our team to eventually be championship-caliber.
“I respected him as a head coach going into that, but after a while, it was just like us not doing what I would feel like our job is. It was just kind of frustrating.”
Scalabrine offered examples of how he disagreed with Jackson on how to challenge players “to be great,” including All-Star guard Stephen Curry, who Scalabrine said wasn’t given the opportunity at times to do more on defense to the player’s detriment because of Jackson.
“Taking the easy way out, right?” Scalabrine said. “Like putting (Curry) on not the best player, and that wasn’t his decision. That’s not Steph Curry’s responsibility. Steph wanted to guard Chris Paul. He wanted to guard Tony Parker. I can guarantee you. Everyone that knows Steph Curry knows that he’s like an elite competitor.
“But as a staff, Coach Jackson made that decision in saying, ‘Hey, I’m not going to challenge this guy. I’m not going to push this guy to be better on both ends of the floor. I want to save him for the offensive end.’ Look, I think Steph Curry if he was challenged day in and day out to defend, if you want to win a championship, you have to be able to defend your position.”
Scalabrine said Jackson’s way with Curry, who remains a strong supporter of the former head coach, was different from what he saw with his former coach in Chicago, Tom Thibodeau, challenging a star guard in teammate Derrick Rose on defense.
“I think that with the right scheme and having the right coach and putting him in the right position, Steph Curry is going to be a point guard that wins an NBA championship,” Scalabrine said. “He has that kind of ability, and it’s not just on one the side of the floor.”
On offense, Scalabrine said Golden State could have been “better organized” and was ultimately “an average offensive team with all that talent.”
“Harrison Barnes should have been like an elite player in the NBA, taking the next step after his rookie year,” Scalabrine said. “It’s just like unfortunate that he didn’t get a chance to do it.”
Scalabrine also said that even though he felt Klay Thompson was an elite player, he would have traded the guard in a deal for Minnesota forward Kevin Love, who is reportedly heading to Cleveland instead.
“My only knock on Kevin Love is I just think he’s never played with a great shot-blocking center, and Andrew Bogut is a great shot-blocking center,” Scalabrine said. “I’m not saying I’m right. Everyone has their own opinion. I personally would have made the move and then tried to convince a Mike Miller or a Ray Allen or some kind of shooting guard, try to trade for Kyle Korver, try to replace that shooting from Klay Thompson.
“Put Kevin Love with a shot-blocking center, a lot of his defensive errors are just based on size and athletic ability. Personally, I would have done it because I think Kevin Love really is a game-changer when he has a guy like Steph Curry with him or a guy that can create shots for him.”