Lacob's silence amid coaching staff chaos speaks volumes

Lacob's silence amid coaching staff chaos speaks volumes
April 10, 2014, 12:15 pm
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We have to win a championship. I will be a failure – we will be a failure – if we do not win a championship.
Joe Lacob

"It'll be Lacob who will determine whether to re-sign or dismiss Jackson, a decision sure to be announced shortly after the playoffs." -- Monte Poole (USATI)

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SAN FRANCISCO – When Monta Ellis faced a sexual harassment lawsuit filed in 2011 by a former Warriors employee, ownership went public with a show of support and denied the allegations.

When coach Mark Jackson seven months later informed ownership that he had been the victim of an extortion plot involving a woman with whom he had engaged in an extramarital affair, the Warriors issued a three-paragraph statement of support.

The message from above was that Warriors stick together, top to bottom, and believe in their employees – if not always the actions of those employees.

Warriors CEO Joe Lacob, still new to the role at the time, created an atmosphere of openness and reassurance and, above all, loyalty.

So Lacob's silence amid the recent upheaval within his coaching staff is both startling and out of character.

It points to the distinct possibility that the boss has had enough of the coach he hired nearly three years ago.

[REWIND: For Lacob, firing Jackson far bigger gamble than hiring him]

Speaking at a fundraiser Wednesday night, Lacob avoided addressing Jackson's status while reiterating his desire for a championship.

"We have to win a championship," he told an audience of about 400. "I will be a failure – we will be a failure – if we do not win a championship."

The Warriors currently hold the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. Only once has the sixth seed won an NBA Championship, that being the Rockets in 1995, behind Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

Lacob later told the Bay Area News Group that he thought the team was having "a good year" but would wait until the end of the season to address Jackson's future. Lacob did say that reports of friction between he and the coach are not true, which is in accordance with statements Jackson made a few days ago.

Jackson's future has been a source of debate in the wake of his March 24 dismissal of assistant coach Brian Scalabrine, who was reassigned by the organization to D-League Santa Cruz, and the April 4 firing of assistant Darren Erman for a serious violation of company policy.

Whereas Jackson said he made the decision to drop Scalabrine from the staff, it was general manager Bob Myers who announced the ouster of Erman. Myers went to great lengths to stress that the changes were "mutually exclusive," and that Erman's departure was of such gravity that termination was the only option.

Shortly after Myers fielded questions during a brief session last Saturday morning, as the team was practicing, the GM reconvened me and a couple other reporters after practice. He wanted to make a point.

Myers stated that he wanted it made clear that the team still believed in Jackson. It amounted to a vote of confidence. It took maybe 30 seconds, concluding with Myers saying, "We believe in (Jackson's) ability the rest of the way."

But Myers did not hire Jackson and actually came aboard as an assistant GM more than 10 months after Lacob installed Jackson as head coach.

It was Lacob who decided to pick up Jackson's one-year option (2014-15) after the team's 12-game playoff run last spring.

It'll be Lacob who will determine whether to re-sign or dismiss Jackson, a decision sure to be announced shortly after the playoffs.

Lacob may listen to Myers. Lacob surely will listen to Jerry West, the executive board member with a powerful voice in the matter but chose to come to the franchise with the understanding that he would serve as an adviser only, avoiding the aggravation of making final decisions.

Meanwhile, as the players publicly express support for Jackson, they are acutely aware that Lacob has made no revealing comment.

Indeed, the players suddenly have shown more consistent focus than at any time this season. They seem to be rallying around their coach.

"The way we go out and play for him speaks a lot about what he's done for us and how he's been such a great leader for us," Stephen Curry said after Thursday afternoon's shootaround.

That the generally candid Lacob, who enjoys a good rally, is sitting this one out makes its own statement.

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