The NBA’s Golden State Warriors have started cleaning house already as they’ve let head coach Keith Smart go. The Warriors have a new ownership group and it looks like they’re not going to be too patient with people who don’t get results. This was actually one of their promises when they took over the underachieving basketball club.
Smart had gotten used to the team’s losing ways as he spent seven years there as an assistant before taking over the head coaching reins from Don Nelson in the off-season. The Warriors weren’t exactly the worse team in the league as they ended up 36-46 this season, which was actually 10 games better than Nelson’s last season with the club. Still, it wasn’t enough for owners Peter Guber and Joe Lacob.
They didn’t need to buy him out though as Smart was only given a one-year deal and the team held the option on a second year. It appeared the only way he would have earned a second season is of he guided the team tom the playoffs.
Smart was told about the decision on April 27th. Lacob said it was a tough decision as it obviously affects Smart’s life, but it was something that had to be done if the club is to improve in the near future and make the playoffs. Guber and Lacob have promised fans they’ll l restore the club to its former glory since they haven’t made the postseason more than once since way back in 1994.
The owners have kept Larry Riley, their general manager, and hired Bob Myers to be his assistant and to eventually take over from him when Riley’s gone. Lacob said Riley will choose the team’s new coach with some input from the owners. Lacob prefers somebody with NBA coaching experience, but Riley might go in another direction. Former Utah coach Jerry Sloan and analyst Jeff Van Gundy’s names have already been mentioned as possibilities.
Guber and Lacob paid $450 million for the Warriors last summer, so it’s understandable they want to make some changes and get the best people in place. At least Smart improved the team slightly and the owners are hoping a new coach can finish the job and take them further. However, Smart could only work with the players he had. This means it’s up to Riley to improve the squad for the next coach.
Lacob said he realizes the 46-year-old Smart might have made the playoffs with a stronger team, but still felt the team could have done better. Smart was drafted 41st overall in 1988 by the Warriors. He was an assistant coach for 10 years before being handed a head coaching job. However, he did take over the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2003 as the interim for the last 40 games of the season.
Riley praised Smart and thanked him for his effort and work with the Warriors organization and wished him luck in the future. No matter who the next coach of the Warriors is, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on him to do better than Smart’s record of 36-46.