While the big news for the Golden State Warriors this offseason has centered around the drafting of Harrison Barnes, the acquisition of Jarrett Jack, and the likely re-signing of Brandon Rush, one of the team's biggest questions regards head coach Mark Jackson and his coaching staff. More specifically, there has been plenty of speculation this offseason regarding top assistant Michael Malone and whether he would return to coach the Warriors for a second season. Also courted by the Charlotte Bobcats and the Orlando Magic, Jason Quick of The Oregonian reported that Malone has been eliminated from the head coach search with the Portland Trail Blazers.
An assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Hornets before joining the Warriors last season, Malone has been viewed as one of the top assistant coaches in the NBA for years. With years of experience to work with the inexperienced Jackson, Malone was the highest paid NBA assistant coach last season at $750,000. A defense-first coach who helped coach top defensive teams in Cleveland and New Orleans, Malone's knowledge and guidance foils Jackson's charisma and character traits and would have surely been missed.
Now that the Trail Blazers are no longer interested in his services, their search has now been narrowed to four finalists: Terry Slotts, Elston Turner, Steve Clifford, and Kaleb Canales. Malone was part of the Magic's coaching search, the only other team currently without a head coach, but was told he was no longer being considered. He was also considered for the Bobcats job but former St. John's interim head coach Mike Dunlap was ultimately hired for the position.
Considering the respect Malone receives around the league as an assistant coach, it is great news to see him likely sticking around with the Warriors. Supposedly out of contention for all other available head coaching jobs, his high price tag and success with Golden State last season will likely keep him in the Bay Area. From his play calling abilities in crunch time to serving as the brains behind the operation, retaining Malone for next season may end up being the most important move, or lack thereof, this offseason.
Report: Warriors' Malone, Pacers' Shaw interview with Bobcats, ProBasketballTalk, NBC Sports
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Austin is a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, lifelong basketball fan and Golden State Warriors supporter, and a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow this contributor on Google+ and Twitter @_austinchang.