Team exercises Nelson’s option for 2008-09

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By Geoff Lepper

OAKLAND — Whether Don Nelson returns to the Warriors bench in 2008-09 is now his decision alone.

Golden State made its feelings known Tuesday, exercising its option on Nelson’s contract for next season and locking in the coach at a base salary of $5.1 million months before a decision had to be made.

“It’s very nice of the organization,” Nelson said. “It’s always nice to be wanted, especially when you’re 67. It’s a very nice gesture on their part.”

But now the question is in Nelson’s court regarding whether he wants to return for a third consecutive season on the Warriors bench at the age of 68. Nelson wouldn’t make any commitment Tuesday, saying that he’ll take some time to ponder his status after the season.

“I’m going to have to think about that. I’m going to have time to reflect,” Nelson said. “My wife and I will have to talk about it, we’ll talk to the team about it, see how they’re feeling. . . . There is another part of life that I’d like to explore.”

Last season, Nelson led the Warriors to a 42-40 record and helped bring an end to the franchise’s 12-year playoff drought. Golden State has rebounded from an 0-6 start this season to post a 39-17 mark over the last four months.

“We’re extremely pleased with the job that Don has done this season,” team president Robert Rowell said. “He’s done a terrific job of building on last year’s success.”

Nelson said that he had an inkling the Warriors were moving forward on the extension — which did not have to be finalized until June 1 — when Rowell asked for a meeting prior to the team leaving on its road trip last week.

“I assumed with our success they probably would, but I didn’t think they would exercise this early,” Nelson said. “It’s really more how my frame of mind is, whether I want to do it again. How long can you do a job like this?”

Geoff Lepper

Geoff Lepper has covered the Warriors since 2005 for the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times. Before that, he covered baseball and college sports for the Marin Independent Journal.

  • commish

    I guess everyone is going to be happy about this, and assuming Nellie wants another year, we know it will be entertaining. But I am not enamoured with his overplaying the vets, continuing to mess with the lineups, having no tolerance for developing rookies, and his love of small ball. Overall I guess we are better off with him as our ooach, but I was hoping Keith Smart was going to get a chance just like Avery Johnson got his chance and made the most of it. I’m sure I’ll be in the minority but I would have been happy if Nelson wasn’t given or eventually declined his option.

  • a Higher Power

    Commish, I know what you mean – let’s can Nellie and interview the following coaches and pick the best one; Jesus, Buddha, Allah and Zeus. Ha!

  • AJ

    Commish – you’re CRAZY man! The W’s are freakin 16 games over .500. Yeah I would love to see Wright, Bellineli, and even POB play more. However, the West is so strong right now that every win is so important. 16 games over .500 and they’re in 8th place. If we had another coach – I seriously doubt he could get as much out of this team as Nellie is getting out of this group. The NBA is so into “CRED” – without Nellie they would be looking at 15 years without making the playoffs!

  • goingforthemoney.com

    Commish and AJ,
    Both of your points are valid to a certain degree. It would be nice to see Keith Smart get a shot as he will more than likely to be the successor to Nelson seeing that he is being groomed to be Nelsons successor and probably would be a better defensive coach than Nelson. On the other hand the stars are line up for the Warriors. With Nelson the cred factor does play a part in the mindset of the league, organization and the players. The positive aura surrounding the team with the addition of a quality big moves us in the direction the organizations is currently going in. Stranger things have happen before in sports. Afterall Moses did lead the people to the promise land although he himself didn’t enter. Keep the Faith! Stay positive!

  • petaluman

    If Don returns to coach a 3rd year, it would be the 1st time we’d had the same coach for that long since … his last time here. We’re doing well, and a little continuity sure would be nice.

  • commish

    My main point is Nellie is great at doing what he does and I am grateful we have him; however, having said that, I point to his lack of being able to get a team deep into the playoffs and refer to Dallas after Avery got the head coaching job. Is Nellie the coach to get us past the first or second round? I doubt it based on his coaching record.