The amount of candidates with no coaching experience receiving opportunities to lead their respected franchises to prominence has increased over the last few years. We’ve seen both Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher leaving the broadcasting booth or the court to accept long-term, multimillion contracts to become first-year head coaches for the Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks. It was also just last summer when Jason Kidd retired from the game to guide the Brooklyn Nets to a second round finish in the playoffs.
Another successful head coach with limited experience was former NBA journeyman, Mark Jackson, who was fired by the Golden State Warriors shortly after their loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. Problems with the front office led to clashes with owner’s Joe Jacob and Peter Guber resulted in Jackson getting booted out the door after three seasons with the team.
Jackson’s presence as a leader was exactly what the Warriors needed in order for them to be contenders in the already competitive Western Conference. Equipped with a young, talented roster that was highlighted by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Jackson helped the Warriors reach the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1992. In three seasons as head coach, Jackson finished 121-109 (.526) in the regular season and 9-10 in the playoffs.
While stumbling back to the broadcasting booth for ESPN seems pleasurable, if Jackson is looking to get back into things as a head coach, the Cleveland Cavaliers could be knocking soon. According to Bob Finnan, The Morning Journal and The News-Herald, the Brooklyn native is a realistic option to fill the vacancy left by Mike Brown.
“After interviewing Charlotte Hornets assistant coach Mark Price on June 10, the Cavaliers could turn their attention to two other viable coaching candidates: former Golden State coach Mark Jackson and Indiana assistant Nate McMillan.
Price was the sixth known candidate to interview for the job left vacant by the dismissal of Mike Brown on May 12.
Jackson, fired after the Warriors’ first-round exit in the Western Conference playoffs this season, has returned to his basketball analyst position with ESPN and is currently covering the NBA Finals. Joe Kotoch of probasketballdraft.com said the Cavs have made “back-channel inquiries” about Jackson.”
If the Cavaliers decide to go this route, it shows that the team is ready to win now. Cleveland is growing tired of rebuilding since LeBron James left so moving forward in the right direction can’t be done without bringing in a candidate with a winning attitude like Jackson.
If hired, Jackson will be forced to deal with a lot of questions this offseason, starting with point guard Kyrie Irving. Unless the Cavaliers offer him a contract extension at the right price, the Duke product could be looking for a new home in 2014-15, making it the second time Cleveland watches their superstar player walk out the door for bigger and better things.
Despite the uncertainties, Jackson will have the luxury of teaching and bringing up whoever Cleveland selects with the No. 1 pick in the draft. The team reportedly has Kansas center Joel Embiid at the top of their draft board, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. But that doesn’t mean general manager David Griffin isn’t considering fellow Jayhawk Andrew Wiggins or Duke’s Jabari Parker valuable with the first pick.
“The Cleveland Cavaliers have 7-footer Joel Embiid at the top of their draft board, but it’s still early in the process and the team needs to obtain medical information on the Cameroon native’s back injury, sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday.
Sources also told ESPN.com that although Embiid is first on the organization’s wish list, that doesn’t mean that Cavs general manager David Griffin — who had the interim tag lifted earlier this month — isn’t also considering Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker with the first pick.”
There’s no doubt that it’ll be difficult for the Cavaliers to make a good enough case for Jackson to leave the booth, a position that he’s felt comfortable with for many years, to a franchise that hasn’t appeared in the playoffs since 2010. But if Jackson was able to get the Warriors past their playoff woes, then I don’t see why he couldn’t do the same for the Cavaliers.