Barring injury, Baron Davis and Andris Biedrins will be on the floor at 7:40 p.m. on Oct. 30 to face the Utah Jazz in the Warriors’ season opener.
Everything else is anyone’s guess.
Actually, it’s only one guy’s guess that matters, as Don Nelson made clear once again Monday night. Prior to the Warriors’ game against Zalgiris Kaunas, Nelson told reporters that he’s going to experiment with Al Harrington as a sixth man and that Monta Ellis will go back to being a combo guard, instead of becoming a pure point guard due to a lack of practice at the latter spot. (As of Monday, Ellis is now expected to miss at least another week before he begins drill work, let alone full practices, which means he’ll get one or two more exhibition games, at most.)
There’s going to be much more on this in tomorrow’s paper (we can’t give EVERYTHING away), but here’s the story in a nutshell…
Ellis hasn’t made enough progress towards being a full-time backup for Baron, in Nelson’s opinion, so he’ll split time at both guard spots again. And because Nelson wants to pair Ellis with Davis (BD will be picking up the opposing shooting guard, avoiding a mismatch for Ellis), that means Ellis may start alongside him. That would make an odd man out of Kelenna Azubuike, who has worked tirelessly in pursuit of Jason Richardson’s old spot.
As for Harrington, Nelson said he first pondered the notion of Al-as-sixth-man during the Dallas series, when Harrington went from being the starting power forward to completely out of the rotation in the space of three games.
“I think this is something that, when he was out there smoking his cigars, he was thinking about it in Hawaii,” Harrington joked.
Harrington has experience at the role; he finished second behind Antawn Jamison in the NBA’s Sixth Man Award voting in 2003-04, when he averaged 13.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Indiana Pacers.
Nelson said he’ll consider Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus and Austin Croshere as his starting power forward, but let’s be honest. If the coach is willing to bench the two guys whom he considered far and away his best training-camp performers, then almost nobody can be sure of their role on this team. Unless you’re BD or Andris.
– Geoff Lepper