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Scattered thoughts on Steve Kerr and Brian Scalabrine comments

Steve Kerr talked about starting Harrison Barnes over Andre Iguodala. Brian Scalabrine continued his public flogging of Mark Jackson and management. I have words on this.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

We are in the midst of the most boring time in basketball world. The Zach Lowes of the sporting world are taking a long vacation, ready to take a bit of a reprieve from this warped universe after the long, drawn-out LeBron James saga. Since I am not creative enough to write fan fiction, smart enough to do cutesy historical pieces, or have the time to constantly update with little Golden State Warriors nuggets, I'm compiling two of the biggest news things coming out from the Warriors in the past week.

Let's start with Steve Kerr:

We've been through this before. Kerr mentioned this about a month ago and it blew up on Twitter for about one entire hour before dying down. Evan, Ivan, and I mentioned it on the podcast - do people like it, should we have another one? But anyway, here we are again, pulling our hair out trying to figure out why Kerr keeps insisting that Harrison Barnes is a perfectly acceptable replacement in the starting lineup for the First Team All-NBA defender.

There are two reasons:

1. Barnes needs the confidence after the way Mark Jackson handled his minutes and position placement.

2. Barnes is the budding star he showed glimpses of against the San Antonio Spurs two years ago and he's ready to show it playing with the starters.

Here are the counterpoints:

1. I have never heard so much about someone's mental makeup lending itself as a crutch for bad play more than in Barnes' predicament. We have no idea whether he has mental issues or not with coming off the bench - except that he did say Jackson's substitutions were wearing on him once - but many want to ascribe this as the end-all be-all solution to his flaws. As if the intangible perception of "confidence" will suddenly prescribe him a controlled dribble, vision and a consistent aggression to the basket. Barnes might be awesome this year, as a slasher, dunker, defender, and all those things he's athletically capable of doing, but pidgeon-holeing the potential success to the notion that he's happier about things does him, and us as fans, a disservice.

2. Perhaps. We've gone through this many times. Much of Barnes' success in that series came on isos that Gregg Popovich essentially allowed so he could shut down Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The dunks in his rookie season were memorable, though sparing. There's the prevailing notion that Kerr's offense will open up seams for him. Without a stretch four on the roster, unless you're counting Barnes and Draymond Green as super-small functioning ones, there's no tangible evidence that what he lacked last year will suddenly pop up because spacing.


Now for Scalabrine's comments, I'm going to blockquote several and riff off of those. He also talked to the media on multiple occasions so this isn't the first time he's going off on someone - since his termination as assistant coach of the Golden State Warriors.

Full interview on The Doug Gottlieb Show, transcripted by Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group here.

"I respected him as a head coach going into that, but after a while, it was just like us not doing what I would feel like our job is. It was just kind of frustrating."

Scalabrine offered examples of how he disagreed with Jackson on how to challenge players "to be great," including All-Star guard Stephen Curry, who Scalabrine said wasn’t given the opportunity at times to do more on defense to the player’s detriment because of Jackson.

"Taking the easy way out, right?" Scalabrine said. "Like putting (Curry) on not the best player, and that wasn’t his decision. That’s not Steph Curry’s responsibility. Steph wanted to guard Chris Paul. He wanted to guard Tony Parker. I can guarantee you. Everyone that knows Steph Curry knows that he’s like an elite competitor.

"But as a staff, Coach Jackson made that decision in saying, ‘Hey, I’m not going to challenge this guy. I’m not going to push this guy to be better on both ends of the floor. I want to save him for the offensive end.’ Look, I think Steph Curry if he was challenged day in and day out to defend, if you want to win a championship, you have to be able to defend your position."

I don't broach the subject much, or at all, but the Klay Thompson-always-on-point-guards thing was always a little odd. Not from a strategic standpoint but from a coach-and-player aspect. Curry is a strong Mark Jackson supporter but Scalabrine made it clear that Curry was not backing down from the best point guards in the world. Curry is the type of player, and person, that will ever bring this up before or after Jackson's tenure. Apparently, it was Jackson that repeatedly went out of his way in placing Thompson on them on a permanent basis. There's a little irony to the fact that Jackson claimed that this was a way to save Curry for the offensive end, when it was mostly his flaws in the offensive schemes that showered Curry with the most offensive responsibility.

And to blow this completely out of proportion, it appears the name value of guarding someone like Chris Paul in a postseason series elevated Thompson's defensive status, marking him as a "lockdown defender" of sorts, and allowing the likes of Kerr and Jerry West to overvalue his actual tools relative to Kevin Love, leading to the nixed deal. Mark Jackson, ladies and gentleman.

On offense, Scalabrine said Golden State could have been "better organized" and was ultimately "an average offensive team with all that talent."

"Harrison Barnes should have been like an elite player in the NBA, taking the next step after his rookie year," Scalabrine said. "It’s just like unfortunate that he didn’t get a chance to do it."

Scalabrine also said that even though he felt Klay Thompson was an elite player, he would have traded the guard in a deal for Minnesota forward Kevin Love, who is reportedly heading to Cleveland instead.

"My only knock on Kevin Love is I just think he’s never played with a great shot-blocking center, and Andrew Bogut is a great shot-blocking center," Scalabrine said. "I’m not saying I’m right. Everyone has their own opinion. I personally would have made the move and then tried to convince a Mike Miller or a Ray Allen or some kind of shooting guard, try to trade for Kyle Korver, try to replace that shooting from Klay Thompson.

"Put Kevin Love with a shot-blocking center, a lot of his defensive errors are just based on size and athletic ability. Personally, I would have done it because I think Kevin Love really is a game-changer when he has a guy like Steph Curry with him or a guy that can create shots for him."

There's some fantasy basketball stuff in here. The Atlanta Hawks aren't going to trade Kyle Korver, on an excellent deal and a perfect fit on that roster and team. But what Scalabrine gets at is context. The context of what Kevin Love provides and ostensibly doesn't are two different things. Most see Love as a horrible defender but he played with Nikola Pekovic and a revolving door of doors in his career at Minnesota. He's not an above-average defender, but he isn't David Lee, either. An elite defensive center can make the David Lees of the world look decent for spans of a season. That's just on defense. Love's offensive game is worth another couple thousands words.

As for the Barnes thing, well, we'll just let that one slide, Scals.

Perhaps the most interesting twist to this verbal saga between Scalabrine and himself is the fact that Warriors ownership evidently offered him a chance to interview for a spot on Kerr's staff. He might have changed Kerr's curious stance on this whole Klay Thompson, or he might not. Scalabrine as a player was more humor - necessary in an increasingly serious sporting world - than player. But Scalabrine as a coach and strategist has shown an open mind and willingness to adapt.

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