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OAKLAND – Warriors coach Mark Jackson was transparent and emphatic, making no attempt to duck accountability for the reassignment of assistant coach Brian Scalabrine, a move as puzzling as it is oddly timed.
The move came over the weekend, after the 71st game of the season. It's highly unusual for a coach to alter his staff with less than a month remaining in the season.
And it's puzzling mostly because of Jackson's rationale.
"Scal has been reassigned,'' Jackson said. "It's a difference in philosophies.
"And it's a coach's decision. I made this decision. I'm fortunate enough to have an ownership group and a management group that allow me to pick my staff. And I'm just going in a different direction. That's that.''
Sounds clear enough, yes?
But Jackson's explanation strikes a different note than the message he delivered in January about philosophical differences within coaching staffs.
No such thing, he indicated, when asked the so-called philosophical differences that led Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd to demote assistant Lawrence Frank.
"To me, I think too much was made of it. I think it’s clownish,” Jackson said in January. 'There’s no difference of opinions with my staff and I. They give suggestions. Some I go with. Some I don’t. But at the end of the day, it’s my decision and we are united in whichever way we decide to go. If you have a problem with that, you should not be my assistant coach. That’s the way I feel about it.
"I’m not saying that happened (in Brooklyn), but wherever it happens, it shouldn’t take place. So just disappointed in the way it was handled and how much credit is given to a head coach and how much fault is given. It’s a no-lose situation if I get credit when we win. But when we lose, Jason can’t coach a lick. He’s a Hall of Fame basketball player. He’s an all-time great. He’s going to be a heck of a basketball coach.”
Jackson didn't understand the concept, insisting there can be no philosophical difference between a head coach and his assistants because, in essence, assistants don't have the authority to philosophize.
That would seem particularly applicable in the case of Scalabrine. After an 11-year pro career as a fringe player, Scalabrine was brought in by Jackson last summer to be the No. 3 assistant, behind Pete Myers and Darren Erman.
So this is Scalabrine's first season as a coach, at any level.
How does he conjure up the cojones to challenge Jackson, who spent 17 seasons as an NBA star and is in his third season coaching the Warriors?
Scalabrine was not available to elaborate, and a phone call placed to a number believed to be his went directly to a voice-mailbox, which was full.
Jackson didn't really say how his philosophy would clash with any that Scalabrine may have tried to emphasize.
"With any staff, in any job, there's going to be differences in philosophy,'' Jackson said. "At the end of the day, whoever's in charge makes a decision. And that's the way you go. We're united, whether we're right or wrong or indifferent. That's important. It's a fun time, and we are looking forward to finishing up. It's a time to be smiling and joyful.
"We are tied together. To me, that can't be debated. But with any (circumstance), whether it be a coach or organization or what have you, you're going to have differences of opinion. But when you come out of the door, you're united. And that's the way it's supposed to be.''
Scalabrine is, by all accounts, affable and easygoing. Jackson's assistants are not made available for interview, so there were no Brian Scalabrine feature stories.
Jackson clearly believes in the one-voice concept. One voice is fine, if it's consistent.
In this instance, it is not.
There is more to this story, and it will come. But this smells suspiciously like a case of the head coach not trusting one of his assistants.
There could be other explanations, but a philosophical difference between Jackson and Scalabrine does not add up. Certainly not if Jackson was being honest in what he said not so long ago.