Brian Scalabrine: Mark Jackson’s staff didn’t prepare Warriors to be championship-caliber, push Stephen Curry on defense

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.”

Diamond Leung

  • Jcosey

    Interesting take. Don’t disagree with anything.

  • PX

    Yep, agree that Ws should have traded Klay for Love. Barnes could have filled in the gap. This will come back to haunt us.

  • Richard Truong

    It’s a new staff now so, we can finally see Steph play defense, see Harrison Barnes turn into a superstar and see if Klay Thompson can become elite and prove the non-Love trade wrong. The ball is in Steve Kerr’s court now and lets see what we can do with the same players and hopefully a healthier Andrew Bogut for the season and playoffs. With a healthy Andrew Bogut, we can do better than last year.

  • Frozzy

    You cannot be serious about Barnes becoming a superstar… He’s nowhere near All Star level either.

    Also Andrew Bogut being healthy for an entire season + Playoffs is some serious wishful thinking.

  • Total Package

    Bogut was basically healthy last year. Played in 66 games…and record was still average…. so Jackson had a healthy Bogut.

    Funnily enough I would actually be happy if we finished the same amount of wins as Coach Jackass had us at… as long as we play better. Our record last year was inflated because we stole so many games we shouldn’t have with last second game winners. We easily deserved to probably miss the playoffs altogether based on the way Jackass had us playing.

  • Total Package

    Disagree. Giving up Lee, Barnes and Thompson to get a statistically slightly better and younger version of David Lee. Sorry way too much to give up.

  • PX

    Depends on what rumor you are going on, if it was Lee, Barnes and Thompson, then no, but if it was Lee and Thompson, then yes. Which is why I said Barnes could have filled in the gap.

  • Erik Landfried

    Heehee, have fun fighting for the 5th seed every year. That trade was a no-brainer and they blew it.

  • Skeksis poloma

    The Warriors aren’t going to win a title, or even come out of the West with the status quo. I guess we can hope Kerr is a better coach than Jackson which will make everyone better, but the reality probably is we have seen how good the Warriors can be with their current roster already. We can keep hanging on to the “Healthy Andrew Bogut” hope but even if he was healthy(Massive If), we may have got past the Clippers but not much more.

    Adding Love instead of Thompson and Lee may not make us a championship team either, but it would change the dynamic of the team. We already have a sharpshooter in Steph, you really don’t want your team’s 2 primary threats to be long distance shooters. They can run hot and cold. An elite post player like Love would be ideal for this team. Right now I feel we are just another team content to try and get home court for 1 round and get to the 2nd round. Not a real contender.

  • KHuang

    I disagree completely with Brian Scalabrine’s attitude and actions.

    Because I’m not strictly a Warriors fan, I view the team from the perspective of the entire NBA.

    I felt that Mark Jackson’s approach was the correct one for this particular Warriors team with the perimeter oriented game they had.

    If Jackson had pushed this physically fragile roster harder, he’d have lost his team on the court and in the locker room. Jackson got the absolute most out of this roster and I do not believe that any other coach or approach could have gotten more.

    I also strongly disagree with Brian Scalabrine’s undercutting of Mark Jackson. Even if he felt the way he did, Scalabrine still should publicly state that at least Mark Jackson got the Warriors to compete at a 50 game win level in a stacked Western Conference. Of course, Jackson wouldn’t have had any problems with Scalabrine if Scalabrine were the type to say such things.

  • KHuang

    I gently disagree.

    The Warriors would have been unhappily surprised to find out that Kevin Love is a DOWNGRADE from David Lee due to Love’s selfish nature and unwillingness to play team basketball especially on the defensive end.

    Harrison Barnes is a good role player, but he doesn’t have the footspeed or explosiveness to be a true star at the NBA level.

    The real problem with the Warriors is that they don’t have a true consistent inside scoring threat, even with Bogut healthy. Coach Mark Jackson did the best he could despite that limitation and it remains to be seen if Coach Steve Kerr can equal Coach Jackson’s results.

  • StopBangingOnTheGlass

    You are certainly allowed your opinion but, are you not able to see that Scalabrine is speaking from 10 years as an NBA player whose played with elite players and coached by elite coaches? Regardless of whether he sat the bench or not, do you realize how difficult it is to sustain a 10 year career in the NBA if you aren’t worth your weight? The average NBA career is 4.8 years by the way.
    I feel his observations hold way more water than those of us writing on an internet discussion board. His observation is from INSIDE the organization. He witnessed the potential of players, conversations regarding players and decisions made about players that you and I simply are not able to factor into our “perspective of the entire NBA”. This is someone that was there to witness how things unfolded first hand, not from an armchair taking in what is fed to him from ESPN or Bleacher Report.

    He mentions that certain players could have been better if given the opportunity or challenged more. He’s saying it’s okay to push your team for more than mediocrity. I would say that’s consistent with any team in any sport that wants to pursue a championship. Makes sense to me.
    As for undercutting Mark Jackson, it really isn’t a big deal. Neither of them are coaches anymore. It’s not like he’s saying he’s a bad coach or a horrible person. If Jackson was still the coach of the Warriors and Scalabrine was saying these things, it might be considered unprofessional. He’s simply calling out observations of what he feels could have been from a perspective with far more insight than we have.

  • Twinkie defense

    Maybe as someone who is not primarily a Warriors fan, you can’t relate to the points Scalabrine is making. There were numerous times when Mark Jackson had the team unprepared to play – losing to the Clippers by 40 points in the playoffs, losing to the Spurs’ backups, losing at home to poor teams such as the Knicks and Cavs, and a number of times the team had to make 20 point 4th quarter comebacks just to compete with mediocre teams. The team underachieved last season – based on the prior season and the acquisition of Iguadala, there were a number of analysts predicting the Warriors could be in contention for the Finals; instead, they came very close to falling out of the playoffs altogether. That should not be happening when you have 4 starters who have been All Stars and another, Klay Thompson, likely to be playing for USA in the FIBA World Cup this month.

    Maybe you also missed the dysfunction around Mark Jackson, who had riffs with several of his coaching assistants, and banned longtime Warrior Jim Barnett and team executive and NBA logo Jerry West from practices.

    You may not know that Mark Jackson made a point of humiliating Scalabrine by firing him publicly in front of other coaches and players (which the front office had to undo, reassigning Scalabrine to the D-League franchise).

    Mark had his say. Maybe you missed his interviews calling Scalabrine disrespectful and saying he should have fired him a lot earlier. And after taking that criticism for many months, now Scalabrine has his say. That’s his right. And I much prefer the substantive, pointed criticism that Scalabrine is offering up about Jackson, over the veiled, no-details criticism that Mark Jackson felt he had to make about Scalabrine.

    Maybe most of all, if Mark Jackson did such a great job, if the team overachieved, or its failings were the fault of others… kind of strange that no other team has wanted to touch Jackson with a ten foot pole, don’t you think?

  • Twinkie defense

    I think that you are forgetting that Kevin Love is a “primary threat long distance shooter” – he shot 505 three point attempts last season. That is only 40 less three point shots than Klay Thompson has attempted in his *career!*

  • benbrung

    Love is far from an “elite post player.” Though he might be the best among stretch-4’s, he is average – if we are being generous – compared to guys who actually work primarily from the post.

    Changing the team dynamic is only valuable if it changes for the better. It’s quite possible that giving up too much for Love would result in a step backwards for the team and, f they committed to Love, the W’s would have less flexibility than they currently have to get better without gutting the roster.

  • benbrung

    Though Warriors/Wolves talks essentially ended in June, the rumor not only included Barnes but also a future first round pick. Plus, don’t forget the handcuffing move of taking Martin’s albatrocity of a contract.

    I think most people make the unicorn Lee, Thompson -> Love trade. Despite a reported split among W’s management over Thompson, the fact that this trade didn’t happen before draft night is a pretty good indication that it was never on the table.

  • khyberjones

    I like Scalabrine’s candor and specific examples to highlight how he would’ve done things differently. His points are instructive. I’m not sure he’s right about Jackson’s use of Curry, though. Jackson was trying to get a player with a thin body frame and a history of injuries through an 82 game season and ready for the playoffs. It makes sense that Jackson wouldn’t want to overburden him on the defensive end. That said, I see Scalabrine’s point that if you have to hide players defensively you will get exposed by the good teams in the playoffs.

  • thewarriorsrule

    perfect response

  • thewarriorsrule

    agree wholeheartedly with scalabrine

  • Twinkie defense

    Yeah? 🙂

  • Twinkie defense

    Really? 😉

  • coltraning

    The silly thing about Scalabrine’s complaint is that the Ws had an elite defense last year, 3rd in the entire league. The issue was the stagnant iso-ball offense,and that, plus a much-improved bench and Steph, Dray and Klay also getting better, THAT is why Kerr/Gentry/Adams was such an improvement on the court. Anyone who watched Scalabrine, a winner of the big athletically medicore white guy on the end of the bench school of NBA affirmative action, when he played, knows he is not the source to go to on offense. Last year Curry was coming off 3 seasons of injury-riddled PT and the decision to not have him guard the best PG was generally a good one. As for holding Thibs up as a model, driving Rose like that likely contributed to his early physical breakdown and Chicago is revolting against Thibs this year and has consistently had players breaking down from playing Thibs-style.

    What exactly has Scalabrine accomplished as a player or a coach anyway? I am very glad that we have Steve Kerr, as I prefer the butterfly to the caterpillar, but sourcing Scalabrine about Jackson is like asking Paul McCartney about Yoko Ono in 1970 – not terribly objective or reliable.

  • coltraning

    albatrocity – great word!

  • omar najeeb

    He got fired because he was black. That’s the elephant in the room. Argue it down like you will. But that’s been the trend for black coaches in the NBA. What did Lionel hollins do to get fired by Memphis?…Nate McMillan from in Portland? Mike Brown from Cleveland? All these coaches left after some of their best seasons with these teams.

  • Twinkie defense

    Lol, pretty ballsy of you to scapegoat Mark Jackson’s firing on the night rookie coach Steve Kerr brought the Warriors way further than MJ ever did or ever could have, with the same roster, to one win from the NBA Championship. Quit blaming racism for Mark Jackson’s crappy coaching – you belittle true instances of racism when you do that. And ask yourself, if MJ is so good why doesn’t any team want to hire him?