*The Golden State Warriors announced last night that Mark Jackson would be their new head coach, but CSN Bay Area is reporting that the former NBA player was not the organization’s top choice.
The Warriors, after declining to pick up the option on Keith Smart’s contract, first reached out to former Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and former Knicks and Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, indicating that co-owner Joe Lacob and GM Larry Riley were looking for a coach with “experience, a track record of success, a strong personality and a defense-first mentality,” CSN reports.
When Sloan and Van Gundy both declined interviews, Mike Brown reportedly became the front-runner for the Warriors job. The Lakers, however, ended up hiring Brown as their new head coach.
Then, Jackson was seen as “every bit as viable a candidate” as people like Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey, Celtics assistant and former Nets coach Lawrence Frank, Lakers assistants Brian Shaw and Chuck Person and Hornets assistant Mike Malone, according to the report.
And Jerry West, who is serving in an advisory role to the Warriors, told the San Jose Mercury News that Jackson “had a tremendous connection with (Lacob)” during the interview process.
Also helped Jackson land the job was the lack of expected turnover among NBA coaching ranks. Warriors execs believed, CSN says, that coaches such as the Celtics’ Doc Rivers, Magic’s Stan Van Gundy, Heat’s Erik Spoelstra and Knicks’ Mike D’Antoni could be available.
Meanwhile, the Warriors have hired Mike Malone as Jackson’s top assistant.
“I think these two guys together will be a really, really good match,” West told the Mercury News. “And two really smart guys, really smart guys.”