In the final month of the regular season, contenders would like to be in firm, established positions as they prepare for the playoffs. However, the Golden State Warriors, currently in sixth in the West and just 1 1/2 games ahead of the 9th-place Dallas Mavericks, are dealing with some substantial change on their bench. As reported by Yahoo's own Adrian Wojnarowski, first-year assistant coach Brian Scalabrine has been reassigned by head coach Mark Jackson. A subsequent report suggested the move came after an argument with fellow coach Pete Myers, and Jackson's future with the team remains unclear. At any rate, it seems as if the Warriors are dealing with some less-than-positive attention at a crucial time in the season, even if these developments don't qualify as a full-on distraction.
On the bright side, at least one veteran player is taking Scalabrine's absence in stride. Center Andrew Bogut, who had Scalabrine as his coach for individual workouts, spoke about the changes on Thursday. From Steve Berman for BayAreaSportsGuy.com:
“[Jackson's] the coach. He makes the decisions. We’re not silly enough to believe anything else. He chooses his staff and he decides which players play minutes and which players don’t. We respect Coach wholeheartedly for that. He’s the head honcho, and everybody else kind of has to be his support staff. If he felt like it wasn’t getting done that way, it’s his decision,” said Bogut, who explained later that Jackson’s decision to reassign Brian Scalabrine affects him more than some of the other players on the team.
“Scal was my individual coach. I had a great relationship with Scal. Obviously you never want to see anybody go. But like I said, at the end of the day, Coach makes the decisions. I don’t think it’s going to affect chemistry too much. Players have their chemistry, coaches have their chemistry … it’s not going to affect the players’ locker room too much.” [...]
“Scal was my workout coach. We all individually have workout coaches that are assigned to players. Each coach will have two or three guys, and basically when we have days that we do individuals or pregame shooting, Scal was my guy. He was assigned to me. Obviously now I’ve got a different guy, and move on,” said Bogut, who minimized the potential impact or distraction a change like this can cause so late in the season.
“That’s just the way it goes, that’s just the way this business is. It doesn’t matter if it happens in October or February, it’s something you’ve got to adjust to and move on from. You can’t cry about it. You’re professional. At the end of the day, you’ve got to come out and play when the lights come on.”
Berman compares Bogut's comments to those of All-Star Stephen Curry, who said that the locker room supports Jackson fully, and refers to them as the realist take on the situation. That's exactly the way to put it — Bogut essentially says that NBA hierarchies determine that he can't complain much about Jackson's decision if the team wants to achieve its goals and focuses on the things he can control. It's a mature approach that would serve the Warriors well if they hope to keep pace and/or improve their position in a very competitive conference.
That's not to say that Curry is misguided in being so positive — both he and Bogut are ultimately trying to avoid controversy and make sure the Warriors maximize their potential on the court. They're taking their jobs seriously during an incident that doesn't directly involve them. While it would make perfect sense for them to be interested in the outcomes — because they will be affected by it — it also does them no favors to make a big deal of it in public.
Bogut's reaction to the situation serves as a useful reminder of why so many coaches trust veterans regardless of talent level or their understanding of the team's strategies. Simply because they've been around longer than other players, vets like Bogut have seen more situations and know how to adjust on the fly. In this case, he's able to handle himself even when the coaching staff — in theory, the stabilizing force on a team — finds itself in flux.
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