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Nellie Issued Crawford Ultimatum

So, the latest from behind the blue-and-orange velvet rope (I know some of you will hate the soap opera element of this blog post. Sorry). More details about Tim Kawakami’s post from early Friday.

Warriors coach Don Nelson — according to multiple team sources — in a meeting the day after the road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 23, told guard Jamal Crawford that if he doesn’t opt out at the end of the year, the Warriors are going to trade him this offseason.

Yes, he actually told him that.


Depending on who you ask, it’s either a big deal, a sign of how chaotic the franchise has become, or no big deal, just a method of venting for an emotional coach.

Anyway, so after Nellie dropped this bomb on Crawford, he told him that he would sit him out some games in part to keep his average. (My personal opinion, it is true that he wanted to give the other guys more time, and Nellie genuinely thought he was helping Crawford by sitting him out instead of playing him sparingly and ruining his averages.)

The original plan, I’m told, was that Crawford would be the only one sitting out. But then Crawford’s agent blew a gasket when he heard about this development (which you read here). Nellie, in an effort to not look as if he was singling out Crawford, then came up with the rest-a-veteran fall-back plan.

In the grand scheme of things, does this mean anything? It does to Crawford, who is a bleeding-heart loyalist who cares about what people thinks and I’m told was shocked that he wasn’t wanted around anymore by Nellie.

Crawford: ā€œIā€™m not even getting into that. Any conversation I have with the coaches or my teammates will remain private.ā€

Does it mean anything to the Warriors? It doesn’t to team president Robert Rowell. I asked him about it during the Pistons game. He waved it off as Manny being Manny … err … Nellie being Nellie — an emotional coach constantly contemplating how to make the team better. Rowell said Nellie probably didn’t go about it the right way and he doesn’t speak for management on this one. But he did say he is happy that Nellie is unhappy about being 21-41. He emphasized that he wants his coach to be bothered about losing and wanting to shake things up.

Rowell: “We’re closer to being a good basketball team than going he other way.”

Perhaps the most interesting part about all of this is that Nellie wasn’t operating under orders from management. Despite constantly saying he doesn’t want any part of general managing duties, that he’s just a coach, Nellie went rogue GM and issued Crawford an ultimatum. In and of itself, I personally don’t think it’s a big deal. It’s not the first time Nellie’s told someone they’re going to be traded, it’s not the last. It does raise some questions for me, specifically how this plays out in the offseason.

Say Crawford doesn’t opt out. Do they keep Crawford knowing that Nellie might not want him around? Do they trade him because the head coach doesn’t see him as a fit? Would they take less in return to move him (since trade demands – even from coaches – lower trade value)? Considering there is no good reason I can think of for Nellie to tell Crawford that, is there another factor we don’t know about that prompted him to do so?

Marcus Thompson