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Kings plan to respect the caterpillar, interview former Warriors coach Mark Jackson

The Kings have narrowed their list of head coaching candidates, with remaining names including Mike D’Antoni, Warriors assistant Mike Brown, and Mark Jackson

Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors
Mark Jackson back in his Warriors days, thinking about designing some post-ups for Jermaine O’Neal.
Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

In a move insiders are calling “a boon to NBA viewers everywhere” and “the most Sacramento Kings s—- in the world,” the Kings have revealed that former Golden State Warriors coach and current ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson will interview for their vacant head coaching job.

Jackson coached the Warriors from 2011-2014, going 121-109 in his three seasons at the helm, making the playoffs twice and winning a playoff series in 2013. He installed a culture of defense that hadn’t been there for the Warriors before, while preserving their culture of weird coaching behavior and paranoid suspicion that had existed back in the Chris Cohan era. From feuds over pre-game chapel services to assistants secretly recording conversations to a blackmail case with a stripper that led to the immortal headline, “Mark Jackson assists the FBI in foiling an extortion plot centered around nude photos of himself,” he certainly was not a dull coach. Of course, the Warriors immediately became one of the greatest teams in NBA history once Jackson was dismissed, so he also may not have been a good coach.

But that’s not the important part! There’s intrigue with a potential Jackson hire - whether it’s in Sacramento or in Los Angeles, where LeBron James has expressed interest in Klutch Sports client Jackson taking over the Lakers. The King clearly likes his style, even if Jackson did openly drool over James’ wife Savannah during a broadcast, saying “I’d hit it out of the park. All due respect.”

Clearly the funniest possible landing spot for Jackson is leading the Lake Show, where he’d feud with Magic Johnson and people would paint sarcastic murals of him all over the city. He’d also make Anthony Davis cry while he was rehabbing an injury, force the Lakers to sign Jermaine O’Neal, and call Austin Reaves and Talen Horton-Tucker the “second-greatest shooting backcourt of all time.” Look, LeBron’s not going to start missing fewer games at age 38, there’s virtually no young talent on the roster, and half of AD’s ligaments are sewn together with extra eyebrow hair. At least Jackson will make things more interesting.

For the Kings, it’s still a funny landing spot, though we wish they could have employed Jackson and Vlade Divac simultaneously. Jackson would fit the Kings’ No. 1 priority when it comes to a head coach: hiring someone who used to work for the Warriors. That’s why Warriors’ assistant Mike Brown also made the cut.

Coach Brown, it’s not the right fit. With all due respect.

If you squint, you can see some similarities between this Kings team and what the Warriors were like when Jackson took over in 2011. Both had oft-injured point guards with potential in Steph Curry and De’Aaron Fox, who both love cryptocurrency. Domantas Sabonis is like a slightly taller, Lithuanian David Lee. Davion Mitchell is like Monta Ellis - an energetic, perfectly-fine player who’s too small to play with their existing point guard and can’t shoot threes, and is about to get traded in nine months. One of these teams had Harrison Barnes, and the other has...Harrison Barnes.

Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has always wanted to try playing a 4-on-5 defense with one player hanging back to cherry-pick. If any coach is willing to try this, it could be Mark Jackson. It could be a new slogan for him: “Hand down, man down at the other end of the court.”

As entertaining as it might be to have Jackson on the sidelines, the real benefit comes from getting him off the NBA Finals telecast, where the talented Mike Breen is often relegated to refereeing bizarre extended arguments between Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy. The curmudgeonly JVG loves to rant about the games, the rules, or his groceries, but when it’s just him and Breen, it’s manageable. Breen can ignore it, or quickly defuse it, but once Jackson steps in, it becomes an interminable debate. You might as well say, “Mama, there goes that tangent” and give up on them discussing what’s happening in the game for the next eight possessions.

The Kings are also considering Mike D’Antoni, who would become the second-oldest coach in NBA history if he were hired, as he’s the same age as a Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who retired from flying 12 years ago. Honestly, the Kings might want to look at Sully, who might conclude that landing a plane in the Hudson River is easier than landing the Kings back in the playoffs.

There’s still a lot of interviews and vetting to be done in Sacramento, but we do know one thing about the Kings’ new coach already: He’ll be fired by 2025.

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