OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob has never been afraid to take a risk. And he knows his latest move – firing coach Mark Jackson – comes with a lot of risk.
Lacob just believes it’s one worth taking.
After jettisoning Jackson on Tuesday, Lacob and general manager Bob Myers moved forward on filling the team’s coaching vacancy Wednesday. Lacob said he has no set criteria for his next coach and no timetable to make the hire, but he’s counting on the search to attract more candidates – and more top-tier talent – than when he hired Jackson three years ago.
“We do have some ideas of what we want to do,” Lacob said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “We will look at all the basic aspects such as basketball experience, and I don’t mean coaching necessarily. Someone like Mark Jackson had played 17 years in the NBA, that’s a lot of experience. In this case it might be more coaching experience, it might not. We’re kind of open to that.
“But it has to be someone with good pedigree, someone who’s a leader, someone who can deal with the pressure of a situation. We have been somewhat successful now and want to go to the next level.”
The job is certainly a far more attractive one than when Lacob hired Jackson away from the ESPN/ABC broadcast table in June 2011. The Warriors are coming off a 51-win season and consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in 20 years, and they’ve surrounded star Stephen Curry with young talent.
Lacob compared the decision to change coaches to how he built his fortune as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. He said there’s a different person to lead a business at different stages of development, and the Warriors have gone from a “startup” company to an organization looking to maximize its output.
“Or in this case win an NBA championship,” he said. “And we just felt overall we needed a different person to go forward and get to the next level.”
Where the Warriors go for their next coach is unclear. Lacob and Myers both declined to discuss specific candidates.
Former NBA player and current TNT broadcaster Steve Kerr, who is also a candidate for the New York Knicks job, has close ties to Lacob and Warriors President Rick Welts from Kerr’s time as the general manager for the Phoenix Suns. Former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who went to high school in nearby Martinez, California, has been mentioned for multiple openings the past few years but has yet to show a desire to go back to the bench.
If the Warriors look to the college ranks, Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg and Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie are rising stars in the profession. Lacob, who insisted NBA coaching experience is not a requirement, could also try to make a splash by luring a more tenured coach such as Michigan State’s Tom Izzo to the professional ranks. Or, as was the case with Jackson, make another unconventional hire.
The one thing Lacob is banking on is he should have a more wide-ranging field than when he made his first coaching hire as owner. Among the coaches the Warriors reached out to during that search: Jackson, Michael Malone, Mike Brown, Brian Shaw, Dwane Casey, Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Budenholzer.
“We think this is a very attractive job,” Lacob said. “Compared to three years ago, we have an outstanding organization. Three years ago, not only was the team not winning, but the organization needed a lot of work.”
Lacob also understands a new coach comes with the risk of disrupting team chemistry.
Nearly every player publicly called for Jackson to return – most notably Curry, whom Lacob said was told of the decision ahead of time. Lacob said he hopes his ownership group has built enough clout with players and fans since it bought the franchise in 2010 that they will have faith in the decisions management makes.
“I think they have the same goals as us – to win and to achieve a high level of success,” Lacob said. “And I think they have to trust us a little bit, that we have the same goals and we’re going to do everything we can to bring in the best coach possible and will manage the attributes of each player in a way that will allow us to win as many games as possible.”
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP