From a basketball perspective, Mark Jackson's demoting assistant coach Brian Scalabrine has the impact of a first-quarter, three-seconds violation. If the Warriors' chances were pinned on the No. 4 assistant, they were doomed anyway.
But in the big picture, this latest incident isn't good for Jackson. At least not for his future as the Warriors' coach.
Alone, who cares? But throw in past issues with former assistant Michael Malone that are now surfacing. Throw in co-owner Joe Lacob's public expression of disappointment with this season. Throw in this team's propensity for the disappointing loss, leaving a fan base with heartburn.
It all comes across as a regime falling apart. It creates a perception that Jackson is losing control.
The worst part? That perception might not even be reality. But it can become -- maybe has become -- reality, which is why this is not good. The Warriors could end up losing a good young coach based on appearances.
Team insiders are mum about the details, but something happened. Scalabrine did something that Jackson thought was severe enough to all but sever ties.
Was Jackson legitimate in his course of action, shipping Scalabrine to the NBA Development League? Is he a good steward, weeding out something that might prevent his team from excelling?
Or is Jackson being too paranoid and controlling?
We don't know. You would think it doesn't matter if he is getting the job done. You could make a strong case Jackson is doing that, which means he's being unfairly targeted. But you could also make the case these incidents are the smoke from the trash can fire you don't notice until the house is ablaze.
If this were a political election, Jackson's best strategy would be to hammer home one talking point: wins.
The Warriors are headed toward 50 wins for the first time since Billy Owens was playing point-forward. They are fighting for a fifth seed, with an outside shot at No. 4 and home-court advantage. Jackson has the Warriors playing defense at a level this area hasn't seen.
Yet we can't stop talking about assistant coaches.
Yahoo Sports, which first reported Scalabrine's reassignment, reported Jackson and Malone feuded last year, and they went weeks without speaking. There had been rumblings in the locker room about Malone's value being overblown by media, and he was more focused on landing his first head-coaching gig.
Here is what we know: Jackson went out of his way to pump up assistant coach Pete Myers' talent as a budding head coach, almost as a rebuttal to talk about Malone's value to the Warriors' success.
And the way he spoke out against assistant coach Lawrence Frank allegedly undermining Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd, you got the sense Jackson had a double-meaning behind his public comments.
Does that make him old school, believing assistant coaches' sole responsibility is to support the head coach? Or was Jackson unhappy with Malone's getting all the attention?
The fact that we can't answer with certainty is why this isn't good. Even if Jackson is correctly weeding out a divisive figure, he still takes the hit for hiring him. And for a management still not completely sold on him, it's doubtful this type of stuff produces confidence.
Whether it's Malone drama, or the new Scalabrine stuff, or talk about him going to the New York Knicks, or rants against the media for twisting his comments about Andrew Bogut -- this stuff detracts from what is going well on the court.
Which is why these hard-to-swallow defeats the Warriors have become known for are even more damaging.
One of the staples of his tenure has been the chemistry in the locker room. His players love him, even when they are riding the bench, and they play hard for him. And several said they still believe in him.
When asked if Jackson was losing control, one player responded: "Absolutely not."
But the Warriors have developed a pattern of playing down to competition and not maxing out every night. So Jackson's strongest hand has taken a hit. At least that's the perception.
His first year, Jackson was often asked what had been the most surprising element as a head coach. He often pointed out how he had to choose when they would travel and what hotel they'd stay in. He was surprised the head coach was responsible for everything.
The head coach is responsible for everything, and one of the chief tasks is keeping the house in order. His removal of Scalabrine may have put his house in order.
But taking in all things, this latest news makes Jackson's staff look every bit unstable.
As a result, the question becomes is this a rough patch for a good young coach, or are Jackson's flaws a glass ceiling for this squad?
Jackson answers that question with how he responds. Perception will change easily, even in the front office, if the Warriors make a playoff run. It will be hard to overlook his main talking point then.
Memphis (42-28) at Warriors (44-27), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA
Warriors coach Jackson reassigns assistant Scalabrine to D-League, denies dysfunction. PAGE 5