11

Nellie Up to his Old Tricks?

What was the first thing you thought when you heard Nellie’s wait-until-the-offseason response to the Warriors’ picking up the team option for next season? If you’re like me, you thought “Here we go, again.”
Maybe I’m just a hopeless cynic, maybe I’m reading too much into it, but this has hold out written all over it. He pulled out all the stops — age, wife, difficulty of the job. Sounds like Nellie has his sights set on more than $5.1 million. He’s laying the ground work for another pay-raise demand. If the Warriors make a deep playoff run, better believe Nellie’s going to want $7M instead of the $5M. The Warriors’ early announcement that they were picking up the option only suggested they need Nellie more than Nellie needs them – which is all the leverage Nellie needs.
Why would Nellie fight tooth-and-nail for a raise and for a guaranteed third year only to say “let me think about it” months later? Why should anyone believe it is really about his health when he cried health last time and it was clearly about the money?
His concerns are, on their own, legitimate. He’s up there in age, his health isn’t the greatest and coaching this team is indeed a tough job. But when has Nellie ever laid all his cards out on the table? He always has an angle, a money card stashed somewhere, a master plan in the works. Don’t be surprised.

6

Team exercises Nelson’s option for 2008-09

This story should be up online at any minute, but just in case you can’t wait:

By Geoff Lepper
STAFF WRITER

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?”

10

Next Year’s Back-up Point?

A story today in the Chicago Sun Times has Chicago Bulls PG Chris Duhon – the one who set his career high at Oracle Arena not too long ago – said he likely won’t be back with the Bulls next season.
I have long been enamored with Duhon as the perfect back-up to Baron. He is a true point guard who defends, and his outside shot is improving. There was a concern about how a solid back-up might stunt the growth of Monta, who was penciled in as the back-up PG. However, that isn’t an issue anymore because Monta is a bonafide starter.
If I’m the Warriors, I’m picking him up this offseason. Duhon hasn’t even played since the Bulls got Larry Hughes. He skipped practice for the Duke-UNC game. You know he’s a goner. It makes you wonder if the Warriors could have gotten him for relatively nothing before the deadline.
Nonetheless, taking the moment to look ahead a bit, Duhon is the answer at back-up PG. He’s good enough for Nellie to be confident resting Baron, but not good enough to create issues about him being the starter. The Warriors can even keep C.J. Watson around as the third point guard, giving him more time to develop.

3

Biedrins is back

Two weeks and a day after undergoing a laparoscopic appendectomy, center Andris Biedrins is set to return for the Warriors tonight in Miami.

“We played 2-on-2, 3-on-3 (Thursday), and I was feeling pretty good, so we’ll try it today and see how it goes,” Biedrins said at today’s shootaround. “I feel pretty good and we’ll see.”

Since it only takes a missed day or two to fall out of the shape you need to be in for Nellieball, Biedrins had been worried about his conditioning. While those fears aren’t gone, he doesn’t expect to be gasping for air like Faith No More’s fish.

“Of course it’s not 100 percent, but it’s pretty close,” Biedrins said. “We’ll see in the first minutes how I’ll do. But it’s much better. I was working out the last couple of days on conditioning and making sure that I won’t get tired so fast.”

As usual, Nelson wouldn’t discuss his starting lineup, but it would make sense on several fronts to have Biedrins take the opening tap. From a simple basketball perspective, Biedrins — even at 85 percent, say — remains a key cog in a Warriors defense that did not provide much help in Charlotte (or even Atlanta, for that matter). And health-wise, it’s probably better to have Biedrins warmed up and ready to go rather than coming in cold off the bench.

– Geoff

1

Houston’s Killing Me

I’m thinking I should stop waiting for this team to fall off the map.
I just watched the Rockets blow out Dallas. They look good. They’re sharing the ball. They are knocking down shots. They’ve got some young hustlers who don’t mind doing dirty work.
Not having Yao practically kills their chance of reaching the Finals, but apparently his absence won’t stop them in the regular season. They are playing faster without Yao, which takes advantage of their athleticism and works well in the regular season. Not too sure if it will work in the regular season, when Rafer Alston’s decision making will be critical and players like Carl Landry and Luis Scola will have their weaknesses picked at.
How does Houston’s never-ending streak effect the Warriors? Hard to tell. I guess we’ll see. But I think the Warriors need to get the six seed to have the best chance of advancing (they have no chance in the first round against the Lakers and the Spurs, who are starting to separate themselves). Dallas (No. 7) and Phoenix (No. 6) are falling fast, so maybe the Warriors can overtake one of those teams. Because it doesn’t look as if they’ll catch Houston.

9

Knee problem for Webber

I commented to Tim Kawakami in the Oracle Arena media room Sunday afternoon that my one concern with writing about the improvements in Chris Webber’s game was the fact that things might turn 180 degrees at any moment.

Oops.

After a first half Sunday night in which he clearly struggled, Webber did not come out after intermission because of soreness in his left knee, the same one that gave way in 2003, eventually requiring microfracture surgery.

The team didn’t have much in the way of details — “sore left knee” was as much as we got in the locker room — but Webber said he wants to get an MRI as soon as possible. It’s not clear if the team can get that done before its scheduled departure at 10 a.m. Monday, or if Webber might stay behind to see the doctors and catch up with the team later.

With Andris Biedrins already out, if Webber is unavailable in Atlanta, Don Nelson will have few options in the middle: go small with Al Harrington or Austin Croshere, or go big with oft-inactive Patrick O’Bryant or Kosta Perovic. I’d expect the former rather than the latter, which should insure that Brandan Wright will continue to start for the foreseeable future at power forward.

I’ve been skeptical of the notion that the Warriors, with 15 guaranteed contracts, would sign another player, since many of the guys available are not clearcut improvements over what Golden State already has. But if Webber’s pain is a significant injury, I think they have to give further serious consideration to that idea.

As for Sunday’s game, the thing that stood out the most for me was the fact that seven players scored in the fourth quarter. I can’t remember the last time Golden State had that kind of diversity down the stretch of a game where the outcome was still in doubt.

– Geoff