The Al Harrington situation just turned another page. After playing just 16 minutes and scoring four points, coach Don Nelson threw Harrington under the bus. A question from S.F.’s Janny Hu started this brush fire, though all she did was ask about Brandan Wright. The result was Nellie vomiting his thoughts about Harrington:
Did Brandan earn himself more playing time?
“Well, absolutely. I think two things are going on here. Al wants to be traded, I think everyone knows that, and we would like to oblige him. We’d like to get a good player for him. He’s playing like he’s unhappy and I kind of feel for the guy because he doesn’t want to be here and it’s probably very difficult to really gear it up and play up to his ability.”
“I made a deal with him that I was going to play him as many minutes as he would want and I would have kept that word. But when he surprised me with going public with wanting to be traded, it’s made it pretty difficult for me and everybody else.”
“And he hasn’t been playing well to go along with it, so we might as well start making the change now. I think the people in the league know he’s a good player and know that if there’s a trade to be made there, we’ll make it. But our front line is young and some of the guys are on the bench a lot, but Brandan is ready to play more. So I’m going to play him, and I hope I’m not breaking my word. But I’ve kind of been forced to change the way I was going to go about the playing time with Al.”
“I thought there was going to be so many minutes between the four and the three that I didn’t have to worry about it. But if he’s not going to be here anyway in the future, we might as well start to think about bringing some of these younger guys along.”
“Now I’m only going to bring the guys along that are ready to play in an NBA game, so don’t get me wrong. And as I said before the game, Brandan is ready. I’ve held him back a few games where he probably should have played, but I think it’s to the point now where he needs to grow into his position and he’s going to be a member of our team and Al isn’t. So we have to face reality and go from there.”
Sounds like you really need to trade him now?
“I think Al will be traded, but we’ve got to wait until we get the right deal for him. But in the meantime, I have to bring his replacement along. I don’t know what kind of player we’re going to receive for him. It could be any position from one to five. We just want a good player in return.”
Do you feel you need to wait to see what Monta can bring when he comes back? Do you feel like you need to wait on trading Al to see what Monta can bring?
“We’ve told Al, and I told him this summer that as soon as we get a good player for him, I would trade him. I didn’t want it to go public, I thought it would be just between the two of us. But he made it public, I didn’t.”
“And so here I’m stuck in a situation where I don’t have a great team anyway, but I have a disgruntled player that I was going to play probably 40 minutes a night. And so I can’t keep my word on that anymore. We have to do what we have to do, we’ll wait until we get a good player. We’re not going to wholesale and all of a sudden just get rid of him, because he is a talented player and we’re going to have to receive something for him. But anyway, that will happen, Mully’s been working on it and when he finds the right thing that’s good for our team, that will happen.”
Exactly. Wow. So, Brandan Wright is in, Al Harrington is out. Sounds like Nellie’s going to cut Al’s minutes drastically until he is traded (inactive?). Is this a smart move by the Warriors? By Nellie? Or was Al killing his stock anyway with his last few games?
Anyway. So, of course, we went straight to Al:
Nellie said he’s going to give Brandan Wright your minutes?
“I’m a B-Wright fan. As long as he plays well, I’m happy for him. As far as me, whatever happens is what happens. I can’t control it. If just because of one game, that means he’s got to bench me, he’s got to do what he’s got to do.”
“As far as what coach said, I don’t care. If he wants to trade me, he can trade me. I’m not a contract that can’t be moved.”
He said you were disgruntled.
“Who am I disgruntled to? If you ask any of my teammates, I don’t say anything about being traded. I’m always about the team. … If I’m disgruntled, I don’t know who I’ve been talking to (about it).”
Is controversy over your trade request getting to you?
“It’s not like anobody’s shooting a great percentage. I had two rough shooting nights. I feel like tonight I didn’t have a chance to get into the flow or whatever. We went to the bench, the bench was a huge lift. Night’s like that, you’ve got to take your hat off to them and let them guys rock. They did a great job. I don’t know. Whatever is my future is my future. But when I’m playing in the game, I’m going to play as hard as I can.”
Then I went to ask Stephen Jackson what he thinks about the seemingly inevitable break-up between Harrington and Nelson. Harrington is one of his best friends. And Jackson is in awe of Don Nelson. I didn’t think he would talk. I thought he would duck the question or whatever. But Jax didn’t. He was candid, as usual:
Nellie said, pretty much, he’s done with Al. How do you feel about that?
“That hurts me. I love coach and I’m going to always love coach and respect what he says and he does because he is the coach and he knows more about coaching than me. I love Al. I’m going to be hurt to have to see him go. I can’t explain my feelings about this. It hurts. I just wish everything would work out and everybody get along, man. I don’t want to see him go. That’s my personal opinion.”
Can their relationship be repaired, or is it time to move on?
“Anything’s possible. Like I said, I really can’t speak on what’s going on or what’s going to happen. I just know how I feel about Al as a friend and as a brother and I know how I respect coach and what he does. I’m kind of torn. I’m in the middle. It’s just, It’s just, I don’t know. I’m at a loss for words about it.”
Can this team handle all this drama?
“Anytime there’s a cloud around things, if it’s not just about basketball, obviously it’s going to bother people. But it’s a business. Things happen. You go through injuries. You go through ups and downs. You go through trades. I think the biggest thing for us is we’ve got to be professional about it and regardless of what’s going on, we’ve still got to come and play and win games. That’s where we’ve got to keep our heads at.”
Can you carry this team in this environment, or is being “torn” hampering your ability to lead this team?
“It’s not as much can I. I have to. That’s how I look at it. Like I said, I love Al. Al’s like my brother, my blood brother. And, like I said, what coach has done for me and my career, it’s explainable. Like I said, I really don’t know. I love both of them and I respect both of their positions.”