By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com
Adding another layer of scrutiny at a time they desperately need stability, the Warriors fired third-year assistant coach Darren Erman on Saturday for “a violation of company policy,” the second change to the coaching staff in 12 days.
Unlike re-assigning assistant Brian Scalabrine to the D-League affiliate in Santa Cruz, Calif., though, there was no indication the Erman decision was connected to coach Mark Jackson. General manager Bob Myers said, according to Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group, that Erman’s termination was not a basketball decision and that Erman “had committed a serious violation” that Myers would not reveal.
A move that ordinarily would draw little attention became new speculation about the direction of the team because of the timing, so soon after another assistant, Scalabrine, was removed from the bench because of issues with Jackson. And all of that would be easier to overlook if the Warriors had better footing than sixth place in the Western Conference, at 47-29 having already matched last season’s win total but also just two games ahead of Phoenix and Memphis in a tie for No. 9 and the lottery.
The Warriors have not recorded two wins in a row since beating the Trail Blazers, Magic and Bucks on March 16-20. Then came six consecutive games of back and forth — losing to the Spurs, beating the Grizzlies, losing to the Knicks, beating the Mavericks, losing to the Spurs, beating the Kings — and the Scalabrine decision. Jackson, already under pressure from owner Joe Lacob to deliver more than improvement in the regular-season win total, has been followed the entire way by public speculation about his job future.
That will be decided by how happy Lacob is with the playoff outcome, not on the basis of Jackson’s relationship with assistant coaches. Even if the Erman firing has nothing to do with Jackson, it adds to the perception problem and becomes another potential distraction as the playoffs fast approach.
“This is not the norm,” Jackson said in the BANG story. “That’s OK because really in both decisions, the right decisions were made. You move forward. To me, I think it’s a great time for us as a team and an organization. To still be standing, this isn’t new. It’s new to you guys. It’s not new to us. So to still be standing, still winning and still in our right minds says a lot about this culture.
“A great pastor said, ‘You cannot fix the foundation in the middle of a storm. It’s too late then’. The foundation has been laid, and it’s going to hold up. There’s no question about that. I love that line.”
Myers’ comments Saturday included the obligatory vote of confidence for Jackson.
“We believe that Mark is fully capable, and we’re confident in his ability to keep going in the right direction, keep propelling us like he has all year, and we believe that he’s going to continue to be successful like he has been,” the GM said. “We believe in his ability the rest of the way.”