NBC Sports

Why the time was right for Collins to leave Warriors

NBC Sports
Jarron Collins

Shh. Jarron Collins doesn’t wish to be quoted at this time.

While thanking the Warriors for the opportunity, the local community for its support and local media for its fairness, Collins doesn’t really want to take a deep dive into the reasons behind his departure from the Warriors' coaching staff after seven mostly fabulous seasons.

He did acknowledge that the decision to move on was mutual, as ESPN reported Monday.

This much, however, was clear from our conversation Tuesday morning: Collins wants to be a head coach.

At 42, with three NBA championship rings, and coming off his most individually impressive season, the timing seems right to pursue that path.

Collins spent the last two seasons coordinating the Warriors' defense, having inherited the job from veteran assistant Ron Adams, who remains on staff but with a reduced workload. The 2019-20 season was a disaster for the entire operation; no player or coach can point with pride to an injury-ravaged campaign that ended with a 15-50 record.

As the Warriors made something of a recovery last season, reaching the play-in tournament before being bumped from the actual playoffs, it was the defense that kept them afloat. Head coach Steve Kerr increased his involvement, but primary coordination remained with Collins.

“JC is doing a fricking phenomenal job, especially for a young coach,” associate head coach Mike Brown, a three-time head coach, told me late in the season. “He actually runs our defense.”

 

The Warriors finished fifth in defensive rating (109.4), higher than 12 of the 16 playoff teams, and were No. 1 (106.7) over the final five weeks.

Though the Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic already have begun searching for a head coach, with the Indiana Pacers still contemplating the fate of Nate Bjorkgren, it’s likely that Collins will be summoned for interviews. He has interviewed for at least three previous openings.

But he’s open to the route many other former NBA players -- most of them Black -- have taken after stints as an assistant were not enough to open doors around the league. Collins could land at the college level.

In which case, he’d be joining the likes of Patrick Ewing (Georgetown), Jerry Stackhouse (Vanderbilt), Juwan Howard (Michigan) and Damon Stoudamire (Pacific).

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Collins worked his way up from player-development coach in his first season to defensive coordinator in his sixth. His character is above reproach and his Stanford degree speaks to his intellect. He could do well in a college environment.

After such a long tenure with the Warriors, Collins got an inside look at a strong support system, from ownership through management and staff. There is a structure standard at Golden State that not every NBA franchise is willing to match.

JC is aware that not every job, particularly in the NBA, is the ideal job and that he must choose carefully. There is a long list of fired NBA coaches, mostly Black, who regret signing a contract simply because it was offered. And often, there is no second chance.

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