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February 27, 2015 Updates

Despite Madsen's enthusiasm for the numbers, one analytics official familiar with the Lakers' operation said that Madsen's work is "not well-received" by Scott and the other coaches, and that any advanced stats the Lakers are using are "really, really basic." For instance, although Scott cited how analytics revealed that Bryant's performance suffered after reaching a certain minute mark, he noted it only after Bryant was so fatigued that he had started to miss games. It wasn't long until Bryant was lost for the season to a shoulder injury. ESPN.com

February 26, 2015 Updates

Ethan J. Skolnick: David Blatt: "I've been a head coach for 22 years, I think people overlook that too easily, & I think unfairly." That last David Blatt quote was in reference to a question about whether he may have benefitted from assistant job in Golden State. Twitter @EthanJSkolnick

February 25, 2015 Updates

Kerr always planned on coaching, but it wasn’t until two years ago, while working as a broadcaster for TNT, that he says he began preparing in earnest. That summer he attended a sports leadership conference at the Aspen Institute in Colorado and ran into Jeff Van Gundy, whose work Kerr admired. Van Gundy told Kerr what he tells all aspiring coaches: Write down everything. Everything you’ve learned, everything you want to do. Everything you’d change. It’ll organize your thoughts. Develop your philosophy. Sports Illustrated

So Kerr created a Word file on his laptop. Some days he added a few notes; other days he filled pages. During four years of college and 15 seasons in the NBA, Kerr played for Lute Olson, Lenny Wilkens, Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich. His teammates included Mark Price, Tim Duncan, Scottie Pippen and Jordan. There was a lot to write, and no detail was too small. He jotted down offensive sets and defensive philosophies, but also included the little stuff - everything from a policy for families traveling on the road to whether players are required to do 20 minutes of cardio after a game if they don't play a certain number of minutes. Sports Illustrated

Iguodala was skeptical at first. “But it’s important not to dismiss things immediately so I thought on it,” he says. Kerr had made some good points. The second unit, so ineffective the previous season, needed Igoudala’s leadership and playmaking. And Iguodala appreciated Kerr’s directness. “I agreed with his larger vision,” he says. Plus, he adds, “I’ve been in this league 11 years and I want my professionalism to be something that stands out.” In the end, he accepted the demotion gracefully. “Who else is going to complain now?” says Kerr. Sports Illustrated

Other times, Kerr’s moves are diplomatic. From day one, he has made a point of consistently praising Mark Jackson, which built good will with his players. Similarly, he downplays his impact on the team at every turn. “In the end both Pop and Phil taught me the players are the ones that do all the work,” says Kerr. “You just want to guide the team in the right direction to play the way that they're best going to utilize their talent and skills.” In pro sports, this mindset is unusual. “Usually winning breeds arrogance but he’s a rare guy,” says Van Gundy, who makes a point to also praise Mark Jackson’s work as Warriors coach. “I think Kerr’s fully aware that he’s done an outstanding job. You don’t play as long as he did without great pride and ego. But the way that Steve has handled himself, forget the coaching. What I have such great respect for is his humility with this success. Very, very few people I’ve known in coaching would have this humility with this success.” Sports Illustrated

Meanwhile, the Warriors evolved as a team, due in part to Jackson’s influence. He emphasized individual skill development, mandating that every player put in at least 15 minutes of extra work with an assistant coach. A pastor at a non-denominational church in Reseda, Ca, Jackson had an uncanny knack for fostering an us-against-them mentality. To this day, the Warriors still exit each huddle yelling “Just Us!”, a unifying chant that began in the Jackson era. Upon his hiring, Jackson had immediately – and foolishly – promised that the team would make the playoffs in his first season. The Warriors didn’t, and wouldn’t for two more years, but Jackson’s formidable public confidence and oratorical skill – which, says one team source, is what got him the job over then-Spurs-assistant Mike Budenholzer, because, “Of course Mark’s going to win the interview” – buoyed the players’ confidence. Sports Illustrated

Players became wary of publicly crediting assistants, lest they incur Jackson’s wrath. Meanwhile, the Warriors were heading into the postseason with a depleted, relatively inexperienced coaching staff and a number of troubling losses. To the Knicks, Hornets and Timberwolves at home. To the Spurs at home even though San Antonio sat its starters. Sports Illustrated

While Jackson excelled as a leader, he was not interested in the minutiae of coaching, according to sources. He so rarely watched film that the video team eventually stopped loading clips onto his laptop. He didn’t draw up plays during huddles, or carry a clipboard. He often looked at his cellphone during practice, even when management was around. His relationship with the front office grew more strained. Sports Illustrated

When Jason Collins publicly announced his homosexuality in April 2013, Jackson told reporters, “I know Jason Collins; I know his family and am certainly praying for them.” This seemed particularly tone-deaf considering that Golden State COO Rick Welts, the first high-ranking sports executive to come out, worked in the same building. Welts says he approached Jackson and had “a nice conversation, like grown‑ups,” adding, “He knew how I felt, I knew how he felt. I’m sure he thought it was an opportunity to educate me, and I thought it was an opportunity to educate him.” Sports Illustrated

This year, Thompson’s improvement is due in large part to the evolution of his game, but he and Curry are also getting easier shots. “No one ever knew how good Klay really was last year,” says one opposing coach. “Because Mark never ran any plays for him.” Which, in retrospect, may help explain why the Warriors opted not to trade Thompson for Kevin Love. Perhaps they knew something the rest of us didn’t after all. Sports Illustrated

Joe Lacob on whether he still talks to Mark Jackson: “Are we buddies? I wouldn’t say that (Lacob laughs). I talked to him when he was at the game here, recently, and had a good conversation. The funny thing about Mark is, I really like Mark, and everyone perceives that somehow we didn’t get along. That’s just not true. Don’t think we ever had a cross word. So he’s a good guy. We wish him well. He did a really good job for us. At the time, he was absolutely the right guy to hire. He did what we needed. Just like when I came in as the new owner, I needed to be out front, be the face of the franchise —not something I wanted to do by the way, but someone had to do that.” Sports Illustrated

On the comment about Jackson at the VC lunch: “I momentarily forgot my cardinal rule, which is whenever something comes out these lips, I’ve got to assume it’s public. But you have to understand, I’ve spent 30 years in that industry, a lot of those people are friends. A lot of it was about VC, and transition from VC to sports and how did you do that, and what are the similarities. It was in the context of all that unfortunately. Everything I said was fine, but I went too far on a couple statements. "I had to apologize but the truth was, I went too far. It’s my mistake. The best thing I’ve learned, from early on: even if you don’t think you made a mistake by doing something, just say you made a mistake.” Sports Illustrated

But Carlisle and Rondo had plenty to say to each other during a tense timeout with 8:10 remaining in the third quarter. The stubborn coach and headstrong point guard exchanged a lot of expletives as they shouted at each other in a dispute stemming from Rondo's desire to have more play-calling responsibilities. "Well, it's an emotional game and we had a difference of opinion," Carlisle said. "There was an exchange, and then, in my mind, it was over." ESPN.com

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