Nelson checked Marco Belinelli into the game much earlier than normal, like midway through the first quarter. But the Warriors, when he’s on the court, usually don’t look for him.
What’s the point of having Belinelli in the game if he doesn’t get shots? The one thing he can do is shoot? Why not take advantage of it? Run some plays for him. Get him off some screens. Look for him in transition.
The Warriors did a much better job on Sunday. He played six first-quarter minutes and got four shots, making three for 7 points. C.J. Watson found Belinelli drive-and-kick, and Belinelli knocked it down from 3-point range. Stephen Jackson found him with a cross-court pass. Belinelli lost the defender with a strong pump fake, took one dribble as he stepped in, and nailed a 21-footer.
Apparently sensing his stint was up, he hoisted a deep off-balance 3-pointer, which he bricked. Seconds later he came out.
When you’ve got a guy who can shoot like that, he’s got to get touches. Belinelli is certainly not a defender, and he can’t dribble against good defenders. So if he’s on the court, he has to get shots. He’s got a nice stroke that the Warriors can certainly use. Most important, he makes a defender stay honest, which opens the paint area.
In seven first-quarter minutes, Brandan Wright had six shots. Nothing against BW, but two of those should’ve went to Marco.
Archive for November, 2008
Nelson checked Marco Belinelli into the game much earlier than normal, like midway through the first quarter. But the Warriors, when he’s on the court, usually don’t look for him.
He said he didn’t want to say anything because “I’m not the one to make excuses” (and, of course, injuries ruin trade value even more than 3-for-15 shooting), but his back is bothering him and he’s going to get it checked out.
Al said he won’t play tonight and he will meet with the team doctor to see what’s up. He said he has no idea how long he’ll be out.
“In China, that flight back got me a little bit. But I thought it would go away. But after that Toronto game, it really started to bother me.”
According to multiple sources, Warriors president Robert Rowell has fired assistant general manager Pete D’Allesandro. D’Allesandro, the team’s salary cap guru and sidekick of Chris Mullin, the executive vice president of basketball operations, will be replaced by assistant coach Larry Riley.
D’Alessandro was hired by Mullin in 2004 as the director of basketball operations. He was promoted to assistant general manager after Rod Higgins gave up his general manager post to take a similar position with the Charlotte Bobcats. D’Alessandro was the resident salary cap and collective bargaining agreement guru.
Riley, coach Don Nelson’s right-hand man, was the director of player personnel for the Vancouver Grizzlies for six years in the 90s.
The decision to fire D’Alessandro figures has to be a tough pill to swallow for Mullin, who loses his close friend. It is, to be sure, the latest in a string of executive decisions by Rowell.
* Rowell hit Ellis with a 30-game suspension, which is way tougher a punishment than Mullin wanted to levy, I’m told by several sources.
* According to Stephen Jackson, he has been assured he will get a contract extension. A source with knowledge of the negotiations said Mullin is not involved in the process
*Then there is the Baron thing. I’ve been told Mullin would’ve given Baron a contract, but Rowell would not unless there were certain protections for the team in the form of incentives and team options
It must be said that Rowell is the team president, second in power only to owner Chris Cohan. He’s supposed to make decisions from on-high and has been for years. But it does seem like he is much more involved lately (or is it just more public) and he and Mullin are at odds on how to handle things a lot more than ever before.
Some in the organization say it’s just perception, that Rowell has stepped in plenty times before, it just never became public. Others tell me Rowell is growing weary of watching Mullin make bad decisions and is having more of a finger print because of it. You be the judge.
What does it mean that D’Alessandro got canned? There are three ways to look at this:
1. Mullin is on notice: Cutting D’Alessandro could be a way of showing Mullin that challenging the authority of Rowell is a bad move with consequences. You know, like in the mob movies when you go after someone close to your enemy to send a message.
2. Mullin is off notice: What if Rowell think Mullin is worth keeping around and they got rid of his “bad influence.” Maybe it’s like an olive branch, because Rowell certainly could’ve fired Mullin, bad P.R. notwithstanding. Maybe Rowell assessed the situation and didn’t find Mullin in violation, but D’Alessandro.
3. Mullin gets warning and mercy: This could be a sign that they are watching him closely, but a gesture of promise that this relationship is salvageable.
It will be interesting to see how Mullin responds. Will he up and quit? Will we start hearing scuttle about him looking into other gigs? Will he reach out to Rowell and make this work?
What makes this even more interesting is who they chose to replace D’Alessandro. Riley is Nellie’s Robin. He was with him in Dallas. He brought him over to the Warriors with him. The two take a walk together before the games. They are tight.
What does it mean that they replaced Mullin’s right-hand man with Nellie’s? Could be nothing. Could be a conspiracy. Certainly makes me think.
Observations from the Nuggets game:
* The Warriors are so much better when Nelson uses his bench. It’s not just because they were at home that it worked, too. The Warriors’ key players had juice in their legs at the end, even without Maggette and Al Harrington. Jackson worked his way to the line for 10 free throws in the second half instead of only jacking up shots (he did chuck his fair share).
* Out of nowhere, PG C.J. Watson got 42 minutes of action off the bench: 14 points (7-for-16), 4 assists, five rebounds and two steals. The starter, DeMarcus Nelson, played just over six minutes and had four points. DeMarcus wasn’t hurt, it’s just one of those Nellie whims. He rode Watson Wednesday night. Friday, Watson might see six minutes. Or, did Watson just become the starter and the Nelson experiement is over. Is it a coincidence the Warriors scored a season-high with Watson getting the bulk of the minutes? Is Watson’s ability to nab a few steals enough to sit Nelson, who is the better defender? Is his offense that much better than Nelsons?
* Marco Belinelli needs more time. I know, his defense is suspect, and he doesn’t rebound. But he can change the course of the game. He is a legitimate long threat. Him being on the court prevents teams from sagging off. Who else on this team makes the defense say “I can’t leave him”? Marco got 4 minutes and made 1 of 2. He should be getting like 10. If he catches fire for a stretch, it can literally change the game. That’s worth some playing time.
* Andris Biedrins and Brandan Wright each played 32 minutes and combined for three blocks (five by Biedrins). Turiaf got 2. And Anthony Randolph seems to be a good shot blocker. Look out! The Warriors can protect the basket now.
* Though Azubuike is playing some good ball right now, I think it’s a good move to keep him off the bench. Even if Maggette is out for an extended period of time, Azubuike still should ne a sub. Not only does he give the Warriors legitimate scoring punch off the bench, but I think he’s more comfortable in this role. His issues are consistency, so he doesn’t need to go in and out of the lineup. He needs to develop a rhythm and get comfortable. Putting him in the starting lineup, even because of injury, may put too much pressure on him and could ruin his peace of mind. He also can’t be a primary focus of the defense if he’s coming off the bench. He had 22 points, 8 rebounds, a career-high 4 assists in 43 minutes as a reserve. He’s feeling good right now. Switching him around too much might disrupt that.
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.”
It looked as if Andris would be the next in line to struggle after speaking out. He didn’t have a great shooting game, by his standards at least, but he definitely showed he was ready to step up on offense.
After a 2-for-6 first half, Biedrins turned up his offense. He had six points (including two missed FTs) in the third quarter and two assists. In the fourth quarter, when he usually doesn’t see the ball, he made his presence felt by dunking on Nene.
He didn’t have a great night, but you’ve got to love his resiliency and his effort. It covers up so many mistakes (like three missed free throws).
For those of you who didn’t see his comments in print, here is Goose’s harshest criticism yet:
“It’s kind of not working out, especially like the last 10 minute. I mean, we scored 12 points the last quarter. We can’t win games like that, shooting 30 (percent) or whatever we had. We need to really change something, because we can’t win games like that.
“We always take very hard shots. It’s hard to score like that. If it’s really important in the last couple minutes, you can’t take so (many) bad shots. I just think that we just need to figure out what’s a good and what’s a bad shot.”
Andris said he would demand the ball more eventually by having a conversation with Don Nelson. But he demands the ball with his hustle and energy. That’s why he got 14 shots tonight. Not because Nelson started running plays for him. To me, that might be too much at this point. Maybe a few plays. But, his teammates can look for him in traffic. Give him the ball on pick and rolls and reward him for his hustle. Andris is smart enough a player not to try and do more than he can, so you know he will take a high-percentage shot or kick it out. That’s certainly better than a turnaround 20-footer.
For all of you Warriors fans who have been clamoring for the Warriors to get Javaris Crittenton from Memphis, you’ll be happy to know he’s probably available. He spent the game against the Warriors in a suit for the third consecutive game.
No, he’s not hurt. He’s just not good enough, in coach Marc Ivaroni’s eyes, to make it into the rotation. He got a DNP-CD in the first game and has been inactive ever since. Mike Conley’s the starter and Kyle Lowry is the back-up. The third-string point guard? Marko Jaric.
So Crittenton’s probably available. But if he can’t beat out Lowry and Jaric, or even Mike Conley (who I am not impressed with), do you want him?
Watching the Memphis game. They are playing so many youngsters, it’s amazing. O.J. Mayo. Darrell Arthur. Marc Gasol. Mike Conley. It’s obvious they are chalking any unrealistic hopes of contendinga nd giving their youngsters experience. Darko Milicic has hardly broken a sweat. Vet Quinton Ross is coming off the bench. So is Hakim Warrick.
Meanwhile, Anthony Randolph is glued to the bench. The Nets gave three rookies minutes the other night: Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts. Of the Grizzlies players I just mentioned, Randolph has the higher upside and the most star potential (maybe Lopez has more). It begs the question: should he be playing? Or is Nellie right by sitting him and making him earn it?
I’m torn. Part of me thinks he’s better than these other rookies who are getting plenty time and not playing delays his development. But then part of me agrees with Nellie that putting him out there prematurely might ruin his confidence and do even more damage. And there could be plenty of time in the second half, if you know what I mean.
What do you all think? Should Randolph get a chance to play now?
Rob Kurz is returning to the Warriors. I talked to him before the Nets game. He was sitting on the team’s bench just chillin’, watching the Warriors warm-up.
He said out of nowhere he got a call from his agent informing him that the Warriors wanted him back. Kurz was all too happy to oblige. He said he will join the team in Memphis.
The Warriors are able to sign him because of a “suspended player list.” It’s different than the inactive list because it doesn’t count as part of the 15 roster spots. So Ellis going on this list – which is possible after the third game of his suspension (tonight) – opens up a roster spot that will be filled by Kurz.
So whaddya think? Good move? Bad move? Can he help?