Following his team's series-ending loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs on Saturday, Warriors franchise guard Stephen Curry said it's "totally unfair" that Mark Jackson has had to experience the kind of scrutiny he's faced this year in his third season as head coach of the organization.
Speaking to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle, the 26-year-old All-Star said the drama that's surrounded Jackson this year is "unlike anything I've seen" and said his coach doesn't deserve the kind of criticism he's received this season, according to the report:
"What Coach has gone through this year has been unlike anything I've seen - just the amount of distractions, the circus that has been around him and the decisions he has had to make. I love Coach more than anybody. For him to be in a position where his job is under scrutiny and under questions is totally unfair."
Despite a rollercoaster season plagued by injuries, namely to a frontcourt of David Lee and Andrew Bogut, Curry added that it'd be surprising if Jackson, who is under contract with the Warriors until 2017, was fired during the offseason:
"It would definitely be a shock to me if anything like (a firing) would happen. I'm definitely going to voice my support for Coach to anybody that asks me all summer."
Warriors center Jermaine O'Neal, who is reportedly considering retirement, chimed in on Jackson' job security prior to the loss this past weekend, telling Sam Amick of USA Today Sports that he believes the team will have a different head coach next season.
You get the feel that no matter what happens, our coach won’t be our coach next year. You just get that feel. But we are willing to give all we’ve got for this group, for that coach, and hopefully whatever that will and whatever we’ve given is good enough to take us as far as we should go.”
Reported replacements, should he be let go, include Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg, according to Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News, former Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy or former Phoenix Suns General Manager Steve Kerr, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. Kerr has long been rumored to be in final negotiations with the New York Knicks to replace former head coach Mike Woodson and work under the tutelage of team president Phil Jackson.
The Warriors improved to 51-31 under Jackson this season after a 47-35 regular season record last year.