Mark Jackson named Warriors coach

Updated: June 7, 2011, 11:35 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Mark Jackson's leadership skills as a player more than outweighed his lack of coaching experience when it came time for the Golden State Warriors to hire their coach.

The Warriors hired Jackson to replace Keith Smart on Monday, giving the former point guard and television analyst his first chance to be a head coach on the game's biggest stage.

Jackson's deal is worth $6 million over three years with a team option for a fourth year, a source told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher.

"He epitomized leadership as a player in this league for 17 seasons and we think that characteristic -- and many other positive traits -- will translate very well into his coaching duties with our young team," owner Joe Lacob said in a statement. "He was a leader and a winner both on and off the floor in this league and we're convinced that he is the right person to guide this team into the future and help us achieve the success that we are striving for as an organization."

Jackson I am really elated about this opportunity and I'm looking forward to the challenge of building the Warriors into a perennial contender.

-- Mark Jackson

Jackson played 17 years as a point guard in the NBA, for New York, the Clippers, Indiana, Denver, Toronto, Utah and Houston. He won Rookie of the Year honors in 1988 and made the playoffs 14 times. He ranks third on the NBA's all-time assists list.

But he has never coached, spending the past few seasons as the lead analyst for ESPN and ABC for their NBA coverage. He won't start his new job until after he's finished calling the NBA Finals.

His first coaching job is a daunting one, taking over a team that has made the playoffs just once since 1994.

"I am really elated about this opportunity and I'm looking forward to the challenge of building the Warriors into a perennial contender," Jackson said.

New Orleans Hornets assistant Michael Malone has agreed to serve as Jackson's lead assistant, NBA coaching sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein, after the Warriors made what one source described as a "generous" offer to Malone.

With new Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown trying to convince Malone to leave the Hornets for L.A., sources said Lacob offered terms Malone couldn't refuse to spurn the Lakers.

"It's a good night for everybody up there," new Warriors consultant Jerry West told the San Jose Mercury News on Monday night. "They've got one person (Jackson) and they're going to get the other person (Malone)."

The addition of Malone is a strong one as the Warriors look to build a strong staff of assistants around Jackson.

Malone interviewed with the Lakers on Monday, sources said, after NBA.com's David Aldridge reported that Malone had his final interview with Golden State on Sunday. Brown badly wanted to hire Malone and freshly fired ex-Detroit Pistons coach John Kuester as assistants in L.A. to join a staff that will also feature Ettore Messina. Reports in Italy surfaced over the weekend that Brown has convinced Messina, one of Europe's most successful coaches, to finally jump to the NBA as a full-time Lakers consultant.

Though Jackson has no first-hand coaching experience, he has played for five Hall of Fame coaches in his college and pro career: Lou Carnesecca, Lenny Wilkens, Jerry Sloan, Pat Riley and Larry Brown.

Jackson, 46, had been looking to get into coaching while working as an analyst in recent years. He interviewed for the opening in New Orleans last year and was one of three finalists for the Minnesota job in 2009, but lost out to Kurt Rambis. He also interviewed in previous years for openings in Phoenix, New York and Chicago.

He finally ended up getting the offer he wanted from the Warriors, who have made big changes in the front office and coaching staff under Lacob's new ownership.

"I have sensed that Joe is committed to winning and building a team and a culture the right way," Jackson said. "I think we all witnessed that with some of the recent front office additions as well and some of the other positive things that have been done in recent months. This is an incredible opportunity."

The hiring of Jackson is the latest move by Lacob, who took over the team last year after buying it from Chris Cohan for a record $450 million. The team cut ties with Don Nelson before Lacob and co-owner Peter Guber officially took over ownership and Smart coached the team to a 36-46 mark this past season.

But Smart did not keep the job despite Golden State showing a 10-game improvement in the standings. Lacob also hired Hall of Famer Jerry West as a consultant last month and former agent Bob Myers as assistant general manager and GM in waiting in April.

Jackson takes over a team led by a high-scoring but undersized backcourt of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. But Golden State lacks an inside presence.

"He will bring a youthful and fresh approach to our team and the fact that he enjoyed a stellar playing career, where he served most of that time as the leader of some very successful teams, will prove invaluable in the long run," general manager Larry Riley said. "We were looking for a coach with leadership ability and a strong personality and believe Mark possesses those qualities. He's very well respected in NBA circles, is a consummate professional and his knowledge and background will be an incredible asset for our team and organization."

ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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