'Oakland's own' Brian Shaw recovers in LA with Walton

'Oakland's own' Brian Shaw recovers in LA with Walton

LAS VEGAS – Strolling past an interview being conducted with Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw, head coach Luke Walton would not bite his tongue. Would not let it go. Would not stay silent.

“Why don’t you tell the real story about Brian,” Walton said.

“Tell what really happened with Oakland’s own,” he added.

What really happened to Shaw over the past five years is a tale of a man being unceremoniously dismissed by the organization for which he shed blood, after which he was compelled to work for another under less than ideal circumstances.

He was a Laker as a player and as an assistant coach. He was lined up to become head coach. Yet Shaw somehow found himself in Denver, coaching a team with a plethora of issues under an ownership with a reputation for getting in its own way.

And now, 19 months later, Shaw, a graduate of Bishop O’Dowd High in East Oakland and still a resident of the city, has reunited with the Lakers, where as associate head coach he sits on the bench next to Walton.

“I felt like I needed Brian,” Walton said Saturday, after Lakers shootaround at T-Mobile Arena. “He’s a phenomenal coach in this league. I played for him. I knew what he was like to play for him. He’s had success everywhere he’s gone – except for Denver.

“I feel like he got a real raw deal in Denver, especially in hindsight now, looking back at what he had and what he was dealing with out there.”

The Nuggets were a mess entering the 2013-14 season. Star forward Andre Iguodala wanted out, and had bolted for the Warriors. Star forward Kenneth Faried earned a big contract and became a less impactful player. Guard Ty Lawson, the floor leader, had legal issues and was chronically clashing with Shaw and his assistants.

A job that was, at best, only modestly attractive – several folks around the league cautioned Shaw – became downright hazardous. Shaw’s blood pressure and the losses on his coaching ledger were rising at the same warp speed.

Why take the job in the first place? Well, despite – and because of – his connection with the legendary coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers bypassed him to hire Mike Brown in 2011. Shaw could have more easily digested this if new owner Jim Buss, who had taken over for his ultra-successful father, Dr. Jerry Buss, had made courtesy phone call to deliver the news.

Shaw left for two seasons as an assistant in Indiana. And when the Nuggets were seeking a coach in June 2013, Shaw jumped.

“That was my 12th head coaching interview,” Shaw said. “And every time I went on an interview, they would say they’d like to hire someone with head coaching experience. So I had to get some head-coaching experience somewhere.”

Going to Denver, where Shaw never wanted to be, nearly derailed his coaching career. He was 56-85 with the Nuggets before he was fired with six weeks left in the 2014-15 season. After spending last season visiting NBA teams and doing TV analysis for NBA-TV, he took a call from Walton and contemplated returning to LA.

Jim Buss was still in the big chair. Mitch Kupchak, one of the few holdovers, was still the general manager. Why would Shaw go back to the organization that treated him so shabbily?

There was the influence of Walton, who played under the Jackson-Shaw staff, and made a convincing pitch. There was the need to patch things with Buss and Kupchak, which was done with frank, and sometimes vociferous, discussion.

There also was this: Shaw never wanted to leave the Lakers. But when Jim Buss took over, he made the decision to purge many longtime employees, including Shaw, who after spent four seasons as a player and six more as an assistant under Jackson.

Though Shaw concedes to a fondness for the Warriors – he spent half a season with the team in 1997-98 and once acknowledged that he’d love to some day become the GM of his hometown team – his greatest NBA days have come with the Lakers, where he won three championship rings as a player and two more as an assistant coach.

“I don’t look at this as a second chance,” he said. “I made the choice to come here and do this. I have a great relationship with Luke. So I’m good. I’m content with where I am and what I’m doing now. My wife says she doesn’t care if I’m never a head coach again.

“But if I got the opportunity again, now I don’t have to take it if it’s not the right situation.”

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Quinn Cook states his case for spot on Warriors playoff roster

Because it’s only two games against two of the worst teams in the NBA, it’s prudent to resist the temptation to fall in love with Quinn Cook.

Putting up Stephen Curry numbers in consecutive games does not make one Stephen Curry.

It’s impossible, though, not to clearly understand why the Warriors have consistently expressed faith in Cook, the two-way point guard who has spent three years trying to make an NBA team.

Two fine games are enough, though, for the coaching staff to recommend adding him to the postseason roster. It’s wise to have a contingency in case Curry has to miss any of the games that matter most, and the Warriors are a smart bunch.

Cook on Saturday told reporters in Phoenix that the Warriors have not addressed the possibility of being on the postseason roster. That doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about it.

“He’s proven that he can compete at this level,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters Saturday night in Phoenix. “The last couple games, you’re seeing what he can do. He’s a great shooter. We’ve known that."

Cook scored, on back-to-back nights, 25 and 28 points, shooting 70 percent (21-of-30) from the field, including 71.4 percent (10-of-14) from deep. That’s Curry-type quality when he’s on a roll. Cook also handled the ball well, recorded seven assists and was pesky enough on defense to nab five steals.

“Quinn is showing the world that he is an NBA player,” Draymond Green said.

Cook’s 10 3-pointers over the past two games are more than anybody not named Curry, Durant or Thompson have drained over a similar stretch -- and only Nick Young among the team’s reserves have made more over any single month.

The Warriors, it just so happens, are dead last in 3-pointers made by reserves, averaging 2.0 per game, with Young accounting for 1.5 per game.

Cook is showing he might be able to help with this.

Kerr loves 3-point shooters. General manager Bob Myers is fond of saying he can never have too many shooters.

The Warriors are discovering they can’t have too many capable point guards, particularly when Cook is proving that he, like Curry, also is comfortable playing off the ball. Pairing Cook with Shaun Livingston, the primary backup to Curry, is a nice option to have.

“I’ve said all along,” Green said. “I sit here and watch so many other teams play and I wonder, ‘How is Quinn Cook a two-way player?' And then you’ve got guys in the league that can’t dribble with their left hand, or can’t go left, can’t go right, but you’ve got a guy like that as a two-way player.

“So I’m happy for him. I pray that he gets rewarded and gets what he deserves.”

Cook had brief trial runs with the Pelicans, as a rookie, and the Mavericks last season. He played a total of 14 games with the two teams. He has played 21 with the Warriors, seven as a starter, but only in the last two has he looked entirely comfortable in his role and with these teammates.

With Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Curry out, the Warriors need Cook to score. He knows he needs to score. He is scoring. And doing a few other things, too.

“Playing in the NBA is something that I’ve dreamed of my whole life,” Cook said after his 28-point performance in a win over the Suns. “I can’t really put it into words, just being able to put on an NBA jersey night in and night out, practice with an NBA team every day, has been my goal since I can remember. I’m just trying to get better every day and live in the moment. I’m just trying to win games. I’m trying to help out as much as possible, whether it’s getting guys shots, playing defense, shooting the ball.

“Lately the ball’s been going in a little bit. But with three All-Stars out, I’ve got to step up. I’m just taking it game by game and competing night in and night out.”

Sometime early next month, if not late this month, the Warriors expect to have their starting backcourt. Curry and Thompson will have returned before the playoffs begin April 14-15, and both will need to be available if for reasonable chance to repeat as champs.

But Cook is making his case for inclusion. He’ll get another test Monday night in San Antonio, where Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is sure to throw at Cook a few wrinkles he may not have seen, but the Warriors have seen enough to know he can help.

“He’s a good fit for us, too,” Kerr said. “It’s not just his ability. It’s his maturity. He’s very professional, does whatever is asked, the guys love him. They want to go to war with him.

“He’s a guy. He’s an NBA guy. We’re lucky to have him.”

That’s not an demand, or even a preference. To add Cook to the roster, the Warriors would have to shed one of their 15 players currently on a standard NBA contract.

But somewhere among Kerr’s words, I believe I see an endorsement.

Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns


Warriors need vets to bounce back against young Suns

The Warriors have lost three of their last four games, their roster is in shambles and, still, they look like pure gold in contrast to the Suns team they’re facing Saturday night in Phoenix.

Coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 6 o’clock, with tipoff scheduled for 7:05.

Reeling from the absences of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, the Warriors (52-17) showed plenty of the scrap in losing to the Kings on Friday in Oakland but couldn’t get much offense from their veterans.

The Suns (19-51) are having the worst season since 1968-69, their inaugural season. They’ve lost seven in a row, 16 of their last 17 and 21 of their last 23.


Warriors by 3


Quinn Cook vs. Elfrid Payton: Payton bolted to a 16-point first quarter and scored 29 the last time he faced the Warriors. Quinn is coming off a career-high 25-point game. With teams relying on diminished rosters, whichever of the two young PGs can set a tone gives his team an advantage.


Warriors: G Omri Casspi (R ankle sprain), G Stephen Curry (R ankle tweak), F Kevin Durant (R rib soreness), G Pat McCaw (L wrist fracture) and G Klay Thompson (R thumb fracture) are listed as out.

Suns: G Devin Booker (R hand sprain) and F Alan Williams (R meniscus tear) are listed as questionable. G Brandon Knight (L ACL tear) is listed as out.


Warriors: 7-3.

Suns: 1-9.


Tony Brothers (crew chief), Jacyn Goble, James Williams


The Warriors won the first of four meetings this season, 129-83 on Feb. 12 at Oracle Arena. They swept all four games last season and are 12-1 against the Suns in the Steve Kerr era.


MOTIVATED VETS: Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Zaza Pachulia, David West and Nick Young, expected to generate offense, combined to shoot 19-of-59 (32.2 percent) in a five-point loss Friday. They must be better; they can’t be much worse. Phoenix leads the NBA in points allowed.

THE BIG MEN: JaVale McGee started nine straight games at center, but Pachulia started the last two. The Suns are long up front, so McGee could be in line for a start or more minutes. In addition, Damian Jones, the team’s other 7-footer, also could get playing time.

STREAKING WITH THREES: The Suns own the longest active streak of games with at least one 3-point make (1,128). The Warriors are No. 2 (1,121). Both streaks are endangered. Curry, Thompson and Durant are out for the Warriors. Booker will either sit out or play with a splint on his shooting hand.