Golden State Warriors

Jim Barnett on Warriors coaching change: “I think they made the right decision, quite frankly”


Apparently Mark Jackson’s problems with communication went further than his relationships with the front office and certain assistant coaches. Jim Barnett went on KNBR’s “Murph and Mac” show this morning, and made it clear that he was 100% in favor of the Warriors’ coaching change.

“I think they made the right decision, quite frankly, for all the reasons that we’ve been reading about, and anything that I do know about,” he said.

Barnett started with reasons pertaining to what Kerr can potentially bring to the team.

“I think everybody did their homework on him and feels that he can do the job. For one thing, I don’t think he has an enemy in the world. So I think he’s going to be able to relate to people, to young basketball players, to the young players on this team. Of course, they have the kind of character that they’re going to play hard for anyone. I think it’s a sure thing, quite frankly. I don’t have any reservations,” said Barnett, who explained how he thinks Kerr will help the team grow — and in the process he questioned Jackson’s role in the regression of one player in particular.

“Their offense can be improved, without question. Obviously there were a couple things. Communication – you’ve got to get along with the people you work for. Alright? And secondly, was the team going to get any better? Did Harrison Barnes get any better? Did Harrison Barnes regress? How much teaching was there? The big thing that I understood is that Mark Jackson really did not want a strong, strong coaching staff underneath him. And especially a lead assistant. If you don’t want strong people underneath you, there’s a problem right there.”

A more free-flowing offense focused on running and ball movement over halfcourt isolations and post-ups has been cited often as a reason to ditch Jackson, and Kerr’s willingness to add bright, powerful minds to his staff seems like a given. One potential concern with the Warriors’ decision stems from how the players will react to losing Jackson, but Barnett thinks the transition will be seamless.

“The Warriors are very fortunate in the group that they have because they’ve got good chemistry and I expect that chemistry to be just as good with Steve Kerr as it was with Mark Jackson. And quite frankly, it’ll probably be a little bit better because I think it’ll be a little more real.”

I know exactly what Barnett is referring to with that “real” remark. Jackson was always cordial with the media, but I never got the impression that he was ever all that genuine. He undeniably connected with many of his players on several levels, but that’s where the realness ended. Due to a combination of Jackson’s oft-repeated catchphrases and a hesitancy to provide more than the bare minimum in terms of access, Barnett sensed there was a wall between Jackson and anyone who didn’t wear a Golden State uniform during games.

“I don’t want to knock Mark Jackson, either. I will say he and I got along, but we hardly know each other. As far as a personal thing, there’s nothing wrong with our relationship, but it wasn’t the kind of relationship I’ve had with other coaches, quite frankly.

“I never was able to go to a practice. We were banned from practice that way. We weren’t part of the group. I always felt like it was Mark Jackson against the world. It was us against them and he had that kind of philosophy. And therefore, I don’t know Mark Jackson any better today than I knew him three years ago.”

Looking ahead to next season — but moving from the sideline to the announcers’ table — how many games will Barnett call next year?

“I have no idea. You know as much as I do. We’re going to go flexible with it all, see what happens and it’s all going to work out for everyone concerned.”

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