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Nellie Unplugged

On a nearly perfect day weather-wise in downtown Oakland on Saturday, Warriors coach Don Nelson moved his post-practice chat with the media outside to the balcony of the Warriors practice facility. There he fired up a cigar and spilled the beans about his contract extension, his bosses and his new philosophy. Here is the blow-by-blow.

A report from ESPN.com said you’re close to an extension agreement. Can you confirm that?
Yes. I can confirm that.

How many more years are we talking about?
Two-year extension.

In the past you said you would take it year-by-year. Why commit to three years?
It wasn’t my idea. It was fine with me to weigh it year-to-year. But they came to me and wanted me to commit to three years and, uh, I’m pretty excited about it. It’s quite an honor really to be wanted. At my age, you’re lucky if anybody wants ya. Hopefully your wife.

When you say three seasons, do you mean …
This one and an additional two years.

At about the same salary?
Pretty close. It’s a little more complicated. It’s a bunch of deferred in it. Actually it’s less per year, but some deferred out and calculated some interest on the deferred. It’s pretty close. A little raise maybe.

Does (the extension) at all address the possibility of you becoming general manager?
No.

Is there any chance you could become the general manager?
No. Don’t want to be.

Is there a chance you would have increased personnel say?
No.

Coach and coach only?
That’s right. I’m not interested in general manager or coach and general manager or anything else. I’ll support Mully the whole way. I hope he gets his deal done as well. I love working with Mully. I’m a coach. Period.

This will help me in my retirement – the deferred kick-in after the three years – so then I’ll have some retirement income coming in. That’s very nice for me at my age.

Since you’ve been back, it’s been a partnership with you and Mullin. Can you imagine …
Still is.

For now
Well, I appreciate Chris Mullin and chris cohan and Bobby offering me this extension. It’s very nice of them, they want me around to see us through this year and see what happens, building, and whatever it is that it’s going to take. It’s nice to know that they want me around to be part of that.

When did the talks begin?
It happened pretty fast. I don’t think there was a negotiation or anything.

Was it before you went to China?
Yes. I think they did it when (Rowell and Nellie’s attorney John O’Connor) were in New York (for the NBA meetings). John just happened to be there and they worked it out there.

Is it at all uncomfortable for you to know that Mullin might not be the general manager after this season?
Well, I don’t know that. I’m hoping that all gets worked out. But I don’t know that, that he’s not.

It could be a general manager who you don’t know or are not very comfortable with …
I’m very comfortable with Mully.

But if Mullin is out of the equation …
I’ve gotta hope it will get worked out.

Will you be back if Mullin is not?
I signed a contract. Yes.

Though you have an extension, could you still take the year-to-year approach?
I can retire. They don’t want me to retire. The contract does have a call-back provision. If I do not finish the contract, I give a million of the contract back.

Whenever that is?
Whenever that is, in the three years. I don’t really know all the details. Maybe it’s in the extension. Anyway, there’s a call-back provision in the extension. I haven’t read it. I haven’t signed it, so I don’t know.

Does it change your approach to the season at all?
No, I think it doesn’t. I think I was strong enough to be on a one-year deal and not worry too much about not doing the right thing or trying to win more games than I should, put too much pressure on me or the team. I was going to do the same job no matter what. I was going to do the right thing and work my butt off coaching this team. There’s more development this year with our younger guys. It just puts me in the broader picture. It’s not me doing it for somebody else now, developmental kind of stuff. Hopefully I’ll be on the dividend side of some of that.

You’re talking about playing younger guys?
Yes. Or developing younger guys. It doesn’t necessarily mean playing them. I’ll play them if they’re ready. Don’t want to embarrass them.

Is there tension between Mullin and Rowell?
I don’t know that. Never talked to Mullin about whether there is or isn’t. They’re both adults. They’ll work it out. All I’m saying is that I’ve enjoyed working with Mully. I expect to work longer with him. That’s the reason I’m here. I just assume all of that is going to get worked out.

So you haven’t felt any of the tension between them?
I don’t really deal with upstairs too much. If I go to my office five times a year, it’s probably a lot. I don’t even go up there. I just stay down in the locker room. I do have a nice office up there. But it’s dusty.

Will you lobby for them to keep Mullin?
I’ll tell them my opinion, yes, like I always do.

Assuming there is a rift between them, do you want to serve as peacemaker?
I don’t want to get involved in all that because that’s all speculation stuff. I’m going to give my opinion when it’s asked.

Was there a conversation about an extension with Mullin?
Yeah. Mullin and I talked about it.

Did he offer you the extension?
Yeah. He didn’t discourage me from signing it. He thought it was a good deal for me and if I liked it I should sign it.

Willing to say this is your last contract?
Every time I say that, I end up staying longer. So I’m not saying that. I don’t know. It could end anytime. I just don’t know. I don’t think retirement is all that it’s made up to be. When I’ve had periods of time off, you start missing going to work and having obligations. It’s not all what it’s caught up to be. So my philosophy has changed a little bit. I’ve lost some dear, dear friends over the last year. Just lost another one last night.

Who’s that?
A guy in Milwaukee. My wife and I met at his restaurant actually. He was hit by a car and died this morning at 8:30. And the philosophy’s changed a little bit. Now I think I better bop ‘til I drop. I think it was a good philosophy. That’s the one my friends have had who have passed on. Some of those guys have been retired and have told me, ‘Hey, it’s not all that it’s made up to be, you know.’

You’ve been an executive before. Why are you so definite about ruling it out here?
I can’t do it. I can’t do it anymore. There’s no way I could carry the load of anything other than … I mean I’ve got enough trouble just coaching the team right now, not having other responsibilities that’s for sure. It won’t happen. It didn’t happen. Not interested. I’ve got my hands full. Period. So I hope that puts out all the fires. Or whatever it is you’re burning over there.

But the team doesn’t have anyone else?
That’s not true. Mully’s right there

Maybe not after July 1 …
Well, that’s a year away. A lot of water would be going under the dam, hopefully, by that time.

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Nellie for Three

Warriors coach Don Nelson confirmed today that he has reached an agreement with the Warriors on a two-year extension. He said he hasn’t signed the contract yet, but it’s for two years and in the long run “a little more” than the $5 million he’s making this year. Since much of it is deferred, Nellie said he’d actually be taking a pay cut.
A team source confirmed the 48minutes.net report that the agreement was for two years, $12 million.
Nellie was adamant about now taking over as General Manager or an executive of any type. He said he is hoping Chris Mullin, who is in his last year as executive vice president of basketball operations, gets an extension as well.
More to come on this later.

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Cut Day is Monday

The Warriors have to get the roster down to 15 by Monday at 3 p.m. They have 16 players in camp (including Monta, who, technically, isn’t in camp). That means one has to go. Who would you cut?
Rob Kurz?
Anthony Morrow?
Or, do you waste some money and dump someone else, keeping the two young shooters around?
The Warriors could cut Marcus Williams (assuming they can’t find a trade partner) and eat the $1.2 million. If Nellie isn’t going to play him, it might be worth the money to sever ties and let him walk, ending that distraction and giving him a chance to sign elsewhere.
Or, they could cut Richard Hendrix, an even cheaper move.
I say cut Kurz. He’s played well, but he’s not going to play, and his upside isn’t strong enough to keep around. By all accounts a good guy, but I’d rather keep the other guys who may actually contribute. Kurz just costs too much to keep around.

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Options, Options, Options

The Warriors have a few days to make a decision on Marco Belinelli, who they drafted No. 18 overall in 2007. The time to lock him up through next season is before this season starts (correction: Oct. 31). If the Warriors want to keep him for one more year, after this one, they need to pick up the option by … If they don’t, Belinelli will become a free agent at season’s end. (Ditto for Brandan Wright, but their is no question they will pick up his option. They also need to pick up the option on Marcus Williams to keep him from becoming a free agent at the end of this season)
So, if you’re the Warriors’ brain trust, do you pick-up Belinelli’s option, giving him a third year? Or do you cut your losses now and let him walk after this season?

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What I See …

A few things stood out at today’s practice:

* Stephen Jackson is clearly the best player on the team (which maybe scary to some). In practice, he practically does what he wants and it seems no one can stop him. He may kick the ball around some times, but others you see him posting up and scoring with ease, driving to the basket at will, hitting threes, pointing people around. He’s obviously the guy on this team.

* Marco Belinelli hasn’t made a shot since John McCain was ahead in the polls. For someone who is only on the team because of his outside shot, he can’t afford these droughts. He’s got to be shooting like 30 percent, unofficially. He missed a few wide-open looks Wednesday.

* No offense to Rob Kurz, but if the Warriors don’t keep Anthony Morrow, they are crazy. Even if they stash him a way in the D-League, this kid is going to be serviceable, maybe even good. They need to go with the best player available and not the biggest need (they do need a big man who can stretch the court). Morrow can handle, shoot, he’s got size and he works hard. They may have found something.

* I like the way Marcus Williams looks these days. He took DeMarcus Nelson easily a few times, and that runner of his is pretty money. It seems as if he’s taken the criticism to heart and is stepping up his game. He better, because DeMarcus isn’t going anywhere and is certainly someone to be reckoned with.

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Watson Hurt

Remember that tumble over the baseline seats C.J. Watson took last night? It turned out to be a painful fall.
Watson said after the game he was in a lot of pain with a sore right arm.
“I couldn’t even shoot in the second half after I fell.”
He didn’t practice Wednesday, just worked on the side with Mark Grabow, director of athletic development. He took a million left-handed lay-ups and some set shots from the free throw line area, his right forearm and elbow wrapped. He perhaps couldn’t have picked a worst time to get hurt, as Nellie is already down on him and Marcus Williams.

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Meeting with Ref

Every pre-season, the league sends an official to each NBA city to update the press on what the officials will be emphasizing in the coming season. The session for the Warriors media was before Tuesday’s game. Guess who was the official who ran it?
That’s right. Bob Delaney. Yes, the same official who fell for Derek Fisher’s flop and called Monta Ellis for the charge against the Lakers last year, a call that cost the Warriors a critical game.
He is a great guy. Super honest, and funny. An all-around pleasure to be around. He even explained why they missed that call. On inbounds, there is usually a blind spot and they sometimes can’t see grabs and holds. Anyway, there were other things he explained to us. Figured you may be interested.

*Just because a defender is hit square in the chest doesn’t mean it’s an offensive foul.
*When the offensive and defensive player arrive at a spot at the same time, it will be ruled a blocking foul. In other words, a tie goes to the dribbler
*A player flopping does not negate the fact that contact was made and therefore an offensive foul can be called
*if a defender was not in position before the offensive player gathers the ball (or picks up his dribble), then it’s an automatic blocking foul, even if the player is set when the contact is made
*The secondary defender coming over to draw a charge will be called for blocking fouls
*When a player is taking a charge and has his heels on the semi-circle under the basket (the restricted area) raising his heels does not mean he’s not in the restricted area. There is an imaginary vertical plan
*If a player is in the restricted area but goes straight up and doesn’t bring his hands forward, and the offensive player initiates contact, it’s not a defensive foul
*It was emphasized that body contact with players who are in the air – such as stepping under a player while he is attempting a shot – will be called a defensive foul. Officials will be cracking down on that
*They are also going to be looking for holds and grabs on inbounds plays
*Screeners must allow a player to “stop and/or change directions” on back picks, otherwise it’s an offensive foul
*Overt gestures aren’t automatic technical fouls anymore; only when it is directed at referees. Same when a player throws the ball or punches the padding under the basket