Bottom line? The Golden State Warriors took a step backwards this season, no matter how you try to look at it. Yes, Stephen Curry finally became a superstar, but a team that made the conference semifinals last season didn’t get to win a playoff series this time, which puts a lot of eyes and pointing fingers in the direction of Mark Jackson.
Right now there’s a rumor mill trying to push Jackson out of his job. So what if Jackson took the Warriors to two consecutive playoff appearances, something that hasn’t happened in over 20 years? So what if it looks like his players actually like playing for him no matter how unsophisticated he might be at times by preferring to speak and preach motivation than let those on TV hear about defensive adjustments and schemes?
Curry has talked more than once about being happy playing for Jackson. There’s nothing to suggest that the Warriors were knocked out early because of a bad coaching job. There seems to be a certain force in the bay area and some in the national media unhappy with Jackson being the team’s head coach. Maybe his reaction to the Jason Collins issue has gotten on some people’s nerves. Not being the most open minded of people doesn’t help you win fans through the national media.
The Warriors weren’t knocked out of the playoffs because of Jackson, and they didn’t finish so low (6th) down the Western pecking order, not improving from last season, because of him, or not just because of him. Andre Iguodala disappointing after his injury had something to do with it. Harrison Barnes having a sophomore year block was a part of it. Doing horribly when it came to choosing a backup point guard in place of Jarrett Jack or replacing Carl Landry was an issue.
The Warriors don’t have a center going into next season. Andrew Bogut is a free agent, and him playing only 99 regular season games over the last two years and missing the playoffs makes paying him an eight figure salary a somewhat questionable decision. Jermaine O’Neal might retire. David Lee and Draymond Green isn’t a frontcourt that’ll get you very far if it’s more than a gimmick.
The Warriors need a big man to eat, drink and sleep defense. They need a backup point guard who isn’t Steve Blake, who looked nothing like the guy who worked pretty well for the Lakers before his injury earlier this season. They need Harrison Barnes taking the next step towards being a consistent contributor on their offense and defense, even if it means being a sixth man and not in a starting role.
The Warriors have room to make some big free agency signings – right now they’re paying $51 million next season in salaries. Whether or not to re-sign Bogut and stocking on quality bench players is a lot more important than getting rid of Mark Jackson, who might have some things to learn before he becomes the head coach the Warriors can be completely satisfied with, but isn’t the reason this season has been a disappointing one.