Doesn’t Look Like Maggette’s the Go-To Guy

Down the stretch Friday in Toronto, the Warriors did all they could to make a go-to guy out of Corey Maggette. The result was three points in the final three minutes.

2:55 Maggette missed a dunk after a beautiful back-door spin. He was called for goal-tending when he tried to grab it while hanging on the rim.
2:02 He started his string of jumpers by bricking a rushed shot
126 With a much smaller Jose Calderon on him, he takes a turnaround, fade-away jumper. He missed.
25.0 Maggette goes one on three to the basket and has his shot blocked by O’Neal
0.07 Maggette runs the clock down and slips and falls, not getting a shot off

After scoring 27 points on 8-for-11 shooting in the season-opener Wednesday, Maggette was 3-for-14 for 12 points through regulation Friday. He was 2-for-9 with 8 points in the fourth quarter.
“I couldn’t throw the ball into the ocean,” Maggette said.
Certainly, he had an off night. But it was partly because of how he was trying to score. They were clearing him out and standing around waiting for him to make a play. Clearly that isn’t his strong suit. He made some poor decisions: taking ill-advised shots, driving wrecklessly in traffic, taking jumpers over a smaller defender.
It just goes to show how tough it is to finish games. Even for a proven scorer like Maggette, it doesn’t come easy. It takes instinct, creativity and a certain “it”.
In a way, the Warriors One of the three isn’t enough.


Warriors Not Picking Up Williams’ Option

According to a source close to point guard Marcus Williams, the Warriors are not going to pick up the option of the third-year guard out of UConn, meaning he will become a free agent at the end of the season and the Warriors will not have to spend the just over $2 million on Williams next season.
The Warriors had until today to pick up the options for next season on Williams, guard Marco Belinelli and forward Brandan Wright. The Warriors will pick up the options the $2.7 million option on Wright and the $1.5 million option on Belinelli.
Williams, who was drafted No. 22 overall by New Jersey in 2006, was acquired by the Warriors in a trade this offseason. He was expected to back-up point guard Monta Ellis. Then he was the odds-on favorite to start when Ellis went down with an injury.
But Williams is currently the fourth-string point guard, behind undrafted rookie DeMarcus Nelson, second-year man C.J. Watson and G/F Stephen Jackson. Williams, in the mind of coach Don Nelson has been a disappointment. He didn’t play at all in the season opener.
“In some respects, it grants him his freedom, because at the end of the year he’ll be unrestricted. So that’s a good thing,” the source said. “The negative, which I think is unfair, is that there may be a mischaracterization of his talent. He hasn’t gotten any time. It’s an unfair assessment in our opinion. Maybe he didn’t pick things up right away … but with his experience, you’d think he could help this team.”
Not picking up Williams’ option is a sign the Warriors aren’t convinced he will pan out, as was the case with center Patrick O’Bryant, whose option the Warriors declined to pick up last season. This also means the Warriors might be willing to move Williams, who is making $1.2 million this season. He and beleaguered forward Al Harrington might be a package another team may be interested in. Another option is to come to a buyout agreement, or the Warriors could just waive Williams and eat the money.


Observations from Opener

* The Warriors’ best lineup was obvious Wednesday night, and it featured Stephen Jackson at point guard. Nelson went to Jax, Azubuike, Maggette, Harrington and Biedrines less than three minutes into the game. He rode that five (Andris and Ronny Turiaf were fairly close to splitting the minutes at center) hard in the opener. Jackson played all 48. Al and Kelenna logged 42 and Maggette would’ve had 40+ if not for foul trouble.
There is no way Nellie can do that on a consistent basis. Jax likes to say he plays the whole game, but there is a huge difference between 40 minutes and 48 minutes. He did it last night guarding Chris Paul AND David West, as the Warriors switched on the pick and rolls.
Nellie said before the game that Al can play 7 minutes hard before getting tired, and he doesn’t play well tired. We saw some of that as he forced some bad shots and missed some obvious rotations. Brandan Wright didn’t play at all, but that can’t keep up. Harrington needs to be down to 33-35 minutes. Maggette was a monster, but no telling how long his body can hold up playing that hard and physically. His performance last night was on a sore right hammy.
“The issue with Maggette is how many games can he play,” Nellie said. “Much like Baron, he doesn’t practice very much. I’m concerned about it a little bit.”
Nellie may have found his best lineup, but it won’t do him any good to run it into the ground. They were aided by the crowd and opening night adrenaline.

* DeMarcus Nelson looked pretty good, sans the near turnover in the final seconds. He is indeed a competitor and he is so physical. That bucket in the lane over Tyson Chandler was Baron-esque the way he used his strength to brush off Chandler’s hack. When I talked to him before the game, he was so excited to be making his debut in Oakland. But he didn’t look like he was trying to do too much for the most part. That says something.
“I made some positive plays,” DeMarcus said, “so we’ll build on that and move forward.”

* After all that talk about wanting more action, Al has to perform better. He wasn’t awful, especially when you factor in his seven rebounds and three steals. But his shot selection wasn’t good and he has to finish better. The spotlight is on him now. He needs to perform better than 13 points on 5 for 17 shooting.

* Interesting stat: the Warriors had 18 assists, not bad (20 is a good night). But they were spread out. Jack led the way with 5. That shows good ball movement

* With Baron in LA, JR in Charlotte and MP in Orlando, did you ever think the Warriors would still be losing games at the free throw line? C’mon.


Harrington confirms he wants out

What my colleague Tim Kawakami first reported, that forward Al Harrington has asked to be traded, has now been confirmed. By Al Harrington.
I’ve been asking Al Harrington for more than a year to talk about his situation. He has refused. I have pleaded with him to share his concerns about his role on the team with Warriors fans (through me, of course) but he continued to decline because he didn’t want to be a distraction, he wanted to give it a chance to work out, etc.
Until now.
Harrington made his frustrations with how he’s used by coach Don Nelson clear to open training camp. Now his tongue is unbridled. Unwilling to simmer in silence any more, Harrington acknowledged he has repeatedly asked for trades and doesn’t want to play for coach Don Nelson. Here is the interview he gave me tonight.

So what is it about playing for Don Nelson that has you fed up?
“I went through it all last year. It all started in the playoffs the year before. It wore on me, you know what I’m saying. I didn’t want to play for him. I told him that this summer. I told Mully that. I reiterated that again to Mully. I’ve told him twice since training camp has started that I don’t want to be here. I don’t think me and coach is going to work out, regardless of who’s playing, who’s not playing or whatever, because I feel like he uses me in certain ways and I don’t think that’s going to change. We all know how Nellie is. We all know his history. If you’re not one of his dudes, you ain’t never going to be one of his dudes. And that’s the truth.”

“Have I asked them to trade me? Yes I have. Plenty of times. All summer. Once a month. It never happened. I’m still here. Do I know what my future is? I don’t know. First game is tomorrow. We’re going to see what happens. But at the end of the day, if it’s like last year, then I can’t be here. And that’s for damn sure.”

Why now, the day before the season start, would you ask Mullin to trade you?
“I’ve been pissed off since that preseason game, the way he ended that game. He said he was going to coach it like he would the rest of the season, or for the first game of the season or whatever. I only played 17 minutes. That frustrated me and that put me in the mode from last year. But as far as if I planned on making this media rush right before the season started, no. It just got out and now I’m in a box. But when you ask me a question, I’m going to answer it and I’m going to answer it truly.”

When did you tell Nelly how you felt?
“I spoke to coach in August, I think. He said he’d been hearing that I was unhappy. He understood why. He knows why. C’mon, man. Everybody’s seen it. That’s the thing about it. At the end of the day, I don’t want people to think I’m selfish, like I’m trying to mess up the team. I’m just worried about me being the best player I can be, helping my team.”

What have you done to repair the relationship?
“I’m a very coachable guy. I’ve always been the guy who’s team-first. No coach that I’ve played for would say anything different or have anything bad to say about my character. I’m the type of guy that if a coach told me to run through the wall, I’ll do that. That’s just who I am. That’s what I’ve tried to do to change my situation for the whole time I’ve been here – always do whatever I can, whatever it takes for the team to win. Come of the bench. Shoot threes. Guarding fives. Whatever it takes. Keep the floor spaced. All of that. I’ve always tried to handle my differences with coach by doing whatever he asks me.”

“I spoke to coach the other day. We had a pretty decent talk. He said things will be different. Like I said, that’s just what he said. Do I believe it whole-heartedly? No.”

Where would you like to be traded?
“I got some options I might need to look at if things don’t change.”

If things do change, if you are used how you would like to be, would you want to stay?
“I’m all for it. Yes. Why not?”


More Drama – Harrington Wants Out

Team Drama is at it again.
My colleague Tim Kawakami reported that Al Harrington officially asked to be traded. I have confirmed that Al did indeed ask to be traded today, according to a source close to Harrington. A team source confirmed that Al did meet with Mullin.
A source close to Al said the meeting included Al telling Chris Mullin that he can’t take any more of coach Don Nelson. Harrington has been unhappy since the end of the 2007 season, when he was relegated to supporting cast. He had said he came into this season willing to give it another try. But Harrington isn’t convinced, according to the source, that things will be different after he was benched late in the Lithuania preseason game. Nelson tried to put Al back into the game, but Al refused.


Monta’s Onto Something

First, here is Monta Ellis’ statement in it’s entirety:

“To My Community, Friends and Fans:

I want to thank you very much for your continued support and encouragement. While management and I do not agree on their actions, I want to be clear that my injury is based on my mistake in judgment. And I always accept responsibility for my actions.

The Bay area has become home to me and I love everything about this community. I see the kids wearing Number 8 in the arena and around the Bay area and it always brings a big smile to my face and a sense of pride and responsibility. I accept that role because there were people in my life that made a difference during my childhood and into my adult life.

It means a lot to me to be an NBA player, and something that I have worked hard my entire to life to achieve. I also take seriously the impact that some of my actions have on others, and particularly our youth. I am working very hard to get back on the court and help my teammates and coaches win many games and recreate the playoff atmosphere of 2007. We were as excited on the court as the fans in the stands, and I will continue to work hard to make you proud of the Warriors.

Thank you for becoming such a special part of my life.”

Warmly, Monta

Monta is so onto something here, I think. I was just discussing this with a Warriors’ staffer the other day. What they are trying to pull is “double jeopardy” by most accounts.
For those of you who are ready to rip me for being a player apologists, bring it. This one I am willing to take you on about. 🙂 This is a rant I’ve got to share.
All jokes aside, I’ve been thinking about this a lot, trying to make sense of it. I can’t. Even though Ellis was dead wrong, the Warriors can’t sentence him twice for the same crime. When Ellis appeals this, an independent arbitrator will say the same thing.
Here’s the rationale. The Warriors had three options when to punish Monta: terminate the contract, suspend him or fine him. They chose to suspend him.
Under what jurisdiction in his country can you go back and tack on additional punishment later? Certainly no court of law.
Say I get arrested for … say … domestic violence. I go before the judge and he or she sentences me to a year in jail. Not even his or her honorable can bring me back into court – after I’ve finished my time – and sentence me to additional punishment because I have not improved enough as a husband. It just doesn’t work like that.
I know some of you are going to say. The Warriors staffer made the same argument, it’s only fair that the Warriors should be able to suspend him now and recover their money if he doesn’t pan out. But that is flawed logic, if you ask me. It is completely unfair.
Certainly, Ellis’ poor decision put the Warriors in a tough spot. But it’s a “tough” spot for a reason.
The Warriors had the option to terminate their contract and get their money back. And they chose not to. They had to assess the risk and reward from their options and make a choice. They did.
But what if they terminate his contract and he recovers fully and becomes a star?
Oh well.
What if they don’t terminate his contract and he is never the same?
Oh well.
They weighed the options. They made their choice, and they should have to live with it, just like Monta has to live with the consequences from their choice.
It would have been more reasonable had the Warriors, to continue the court analogy, “suspended the sentence.” They could have waited to see how Ellis recovers, reserving the right to impose the punishment later. Judges do it all the time. A judge could tell me, assuming I did abuse my wife, that he or should would suspend the sentence provided I complete anger management or marriage counseling. If I don’t by a certain date, I get five years. If I do, I get probation or whatever.
However, if you do that, you CANNOT impose a punishment until later. A judge can’t sentence me to the time AND make me do anger management AND throw the book at me if I still don’t turn out to be a good husband.
Sorry about the courtroom analogies. It is just the best way I can explain why I think Monta is right in this case, as wrong as he was to start.
An important caveat to note is that the Warriors can only punish him for violating his contract. If I understand this correctly, being injured and missing games is not a punishable offense. You can’t suspend him 30 games for violating a conduct clause in his contract, then terminate his contract because he’s too hurt to play. NBA contracts are guaranteed. Teams aren’t allowed to NOT pay a player because they are injured and not playing.
Therefore, whatever punishment the Warriors’ exact on Ellis is because he violated the uniform player contract. For that crime, they had three punishment options: terminate contract, suspend or fine.
They chose to suspend. Should be case closed.


Live From Open Practice

Some observations from The open-to-the-public practice at the Oracle:

• Monta Ellis was on hand, this time on crutches and not the mini-bike. He was wearing all black – t-shirt sweats and hat. What stood out about his attire was that he was wearing a pair of black K-Swiss classics – and not a boot. Oh yeah, also of note was his black Yankees hat. It was all fur. His teammates were jokingly calling him “chinchilla.”

• Corey Maggette came in late, not dressed for practice. He sat on the bench between Ellis and Brandan Wright, who was dressed but doesn’t appear to be participating in practice. C.J. Watson participated despite his injured right elbow

• The teams: Blue – Jax, Biedrins, DeMarcus, Buike, Harrington, Wright and Hendrix; White – Randolph, Marco, Ronni, Marcus Williams, Morrow, CJ and Kurz

• Anthony Randolph leaked out on a break after a Marcus Williams steal. Everybody knew he was going to dunk. Everybody except Al, obviously, because he jumped. And Randolph tomahawked right over him.
“He didn’t dunk on me,” Harrington said. “I didn’t jump to block it. That was fake hustle.”

• Buike looks like he’s on another level. His athleticism stands out. He caught an alley-oop from Jax, he was practically soaring. He is physically just superior. But now it looks like he has confidence.

• I know Nellie doesn’t want Marcus Williams to dominant on offense (but to defend and rebound and run the offense), but the dude can produce points. In the third quarter, he was 5-for-9 with 16 points, 3 assists and no turnovers. He knows joe to draw fouls. He knows how to get his own shot. He knows how to find people. He does get too aggressive sometimes, and dribbles a lot. But he can make offense happen. Now, if he can just grasp the playbook and play some defense.

• Scary Moment: Jack was dribbling around a pick when Marcus Williams poked him in the eye. He squirmed on the ground for a minute before getting up. He continued to play.

• You gotta love Anthony Randolph’s swagger. He dunked on Al earlier. Then, with Randolph steam-rolling down the middle, Al took a charge (ruled a block) creating a big collision. Randolphed slammed the ball in frustration and walked away. Later, Randolph had a clear path on the baseline, and Al jumped in the way again. This time, Randolph – a rookie – went up knees first. Al retreated and Randolph scored.
“Yeah, I got out the way,” Al confessed. “He would’ve knocked the wind out of me that time.”
Randolph: “Just trying to let him know I’m there a little bit. It’s all fun and games, though.”
Later in the fourth, Randolph was open on the left wing in transition. Belinelli got in the way and Randolph stepped on the back of his heel and fell, unable to finish Williams’ pass. From the ground, he shot Marco a “What in the world are you doing?” look that you just don’t see from rookies.

• Jackson did give Randolph the business. Isolated one-on-one, Jackson blew past Randolph and dunked on him with two hands. Adding insult to injury, he hung on the rim then took a chest bump from Al Harrington as the crowd cheered
“It’s coming,” Randolph said. “Y’all won’t see it because it’ll be in practice, but it’s coming.”
How come you didn’t go right back at him?
“He’s a veteran,” he said with a smile. “I can’t embarrass him.”

• Blue 91, White 73

• Of course, the rookies had to embarrass themselves. Kurz, Morrow, Hendrix, Randolph and Nelson had to dance at halfcourt to My Duggie. Kurz won that showdown.
Then they sang Happy Birthday to Ellis, an awful rendition of Stevie Wonder’s version.
“It was a 12,” Randolph said when asked to rate the quintet’s performance on a scale of 1 to 10. “We only had one day to prepare.”