Inside Practice (March 12)

Before I get to today’s practice, it is a must I cover the happenings at last night’s game, and there were plenty. Well, one thing. The love triangle between Monta, Crawford and Nellie.

First, the pre-game. Nellie drops two bombs, one of them a repeat. First, he re-iterated, emphatically, that Ellis’ ankle was bothering him (rebutting Ellis’ statement that his ankle was never bothering him).

Nelson: “Monta complained three different times that he had soreness in his ankle. So he missed five games or some number of games and then he was supposed to see a doctor and come back. Then he went to visit his mother. I don’t know what’s happened. That’s fact. There was pain in his ankle or stiffness or something. Or he would have continued to play, would he not? You need to talk to him to get what he says. I’m telling you what was. That’s the reason.”

After getting that off his chest, Nelson went on to address the Crawford ultimatum, which he previously declined to do.

Nellie: “Sure, now that it’s public. It was a private conversation. It didn’t come from me. There are only two people involved, so it’s either he or his friends that broke the story. Not me. I don’t mind a story getting out as long as it’s a true story and that’s a true one. We did meet. I did tell him. I’ve always been very open and honest with my players and I did tell him he probably would either opt out or we would move him next year. That’s a fact and I just don’t see that that’s going to work. I’m loaded in the back court. If I’m going to move Jackson into the backcourt now I’m really overloaded. I think he’s too good a player to be a 10 or 15 minute player, as a backup player. Wherever Jack plays there’s not many minutes left. Wherever Monta plays, when he’s healthy, there won’t be very many minutes left. Those positions should be backed up by somebody making less than 8 or 9 — or whatever his contract is — million dollars a year. so he makes too much money as a backup player so being open and honest with my player I don’t know if it’s criticism or what but that’s the way it is. I’m that way with all my players all the time. I get criticized sometimes for it. So be it.”

OK, then the game happens. Ellis plays by what most everyone conceded was among his best of the season (not that such was hard to do). The Nets led by as much as 14 before Monta sparked a comeback in the third quarter. He finished with 19 points and six assists in 31 minutes. Again, not the star we saw last season, but certainly an encouraging step forward – especially after missing seven games.
So Nelson took this opportunity to spray some freshener on the whole Ellis situation, right? He went into one of those praise-heaping soliloquies about Monta’s performance, right? Wrong.
Not only did he sit Monta the entire fourth quarter, but Nellie seemed to go out of his way to temper the excitement about Ellis’ return.

Nelson: “I thought he was all right. He looked a little rusty, but he hadn’t played for a while. But I thought he was ok.”

So, Crawford, who Nelson all but said he doesn’t want around anymore, wound up running the point in the fourth quarter (though Nellie said Ellis would be the full-time point guard). Jamal, who started 1-for-8, wound up taking over the fourth, scoring 15 of his 19.
Nellie’s response was noticeably more favorable than for Ellis. (Hint: notice the last line)

Nelson: “He did most of his damage when he was running the point. I’m glad I stayed with him because he was struggling the first three quarters. He’s been with us for (45) games so the plays are run a little bit better.”

Makes you wonder what is this all about. IMHO, it is much more than what it looks like on the surface. Why won’t Nellie deliver the gem about Ellis for the next day’s papers, so everything could look rosey in Warriors’ land for at least a day? How does Monta feel about sitting out the entire fourth quarter (he said “we got the win, that’s what matters”), especially in such a tight game?

On to Thursday …

Not much happened. Everybody was at practice, though Jackson’s participation was limited. He has a sore left big toe. Belinelli, who also has toe issues, practiced. He is listed as questionable.
Wright practiced for the second time. He said he is ready to go. He will see how he feels Friday and talk to Nellie. He’s unofficially a game-time decision.

Wright: “That’s the word on the street, I guess. I definitely want to play.”

Oh, yeah. Got a shot of the new Monta Ellis bobbleheads.

Marcus Thompson

  • Norm

    So can I infer that Nelson would like to dump Monta’s contract over Crawfords?

    This whole thing going on in Warriorland is so confusing.

  • Norm,

    They’re consistent, aren’t they?
    15 years and counting…

  • samuraaaaiiiiiii

    I feel like Nellie might just be being blunt with everyone this season. Maybe he didn’t mean anything more by his Ellis comments other than the truth, Monta is still rusty compared to his old self. I don’t think you can read into Monta being on the bench either, considering how little he’s played all season. He probably isn’t ready for 40 minutes still. Also, Biedrins sat out all of crunch time too… I think Nellie just trusts the veterans more than the young guys.

  • Livermore Joe

    Will the madness never end? I’ve been defending the Warriors since the third grade! That was 1985!

    It never, never gets better! Arrrrgh!!!

    Before this last offseason, the last time I really felt hopeful about the W’s future was when they traded Billy Owens for Rony Seikaly.

    I was at the gym the first time Seikaly practiced with the W’s. The team was coming off a fifty win season, Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin were back from injuries, Latrell Sprewell hadn’t choked anyone yet and Chris Webber was barely 22 years old. Young players, successful season, just traded a lousy lump of contract for a (semi) legitimate center… It had taken nine years but my third grade optimism had been rewarded! Things were great!

    And I’m sitting up there in the rafters, watching the media interview Seikaly before practice, reflecting on these happy thoughts when, out of the corner of my eye, I notice Manute Bol shouting in Bob Lanier’s face. Pointing, and truthfully, almost screaming.

    A sudden cloud on an otherwise sunny day. And I thought to myself, hmmm… maybe this Webber contract dispute isn’t going to work out the way I want it to… a thought I quickly pushed aside, as I happily contemplated what I was certain would be many, many, many rewarding years of basketball to come…

    And then, The Long Night Began…

    Fifteen years (!!!) have passed and what do I have to show for it? One lousy playoff appearance, and now this, a steaming pile of donkey turds.

    Thank, Chris Cohan, thank you!

    (I was a student at St. Mary’s College at the time and the W’s were practicing there occasionally, and some players even played pick up games there during the summer. I’d sneak into the gym to watch. Chris Mullin was a super nice guy, Tim Hardaway was built like a truck and Sharunas Marcilonius looked strong enough to murder Junior Seau with his bare hands. We were literally afraid of him).

  • “Magic”

    That’s a good story “Livermore Joe”…….. I didn’t realize they practiced over there in the off-season, I know some of the players lived in Lafayette, Moraga……..Chris Gatling lived up there…….but yeah……..ain’t nothin’ better than playin’ ball against real ball players…….helps your confidence and game,……I like Patrick Mills too….Monta Ellis “esque” in a way, I think he’s a surefire NBA player……nobody else on that team will make the league.

    Those were great teams, Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway, before they traded Mitch Richmond…….Webber’s rookie season, the excitement when Latrell Sprewell was drafted…….Sarunas Marciuliones……..absolutely fantastic player, I wish we had guys like that on the squad now.

    Even role players like Mario Elie, Tyrone Hill, ……Keith Jennings….the little 3 point specialist…….this team is nowhere compared to that.

    We have some talent now there’s no question, I can’t wait for the upcoming game against the Lakers…….if people on the East Coast only knew how exciting and entertaining those games are…that’s what it’s all about…….Warriors vs. Lakers.

  • manhattanproj


    i want to know how healthy monta is? what % is he playing at? is he at 100%? what’s your guess?

    does he just need some time to get fully heal and back to his last season level? or is he just a damaged good?

    what do you think the w’s should do with him? stick with him and find out next season. or trade him this offseason and risk losing him returning to form?

    if the w’s stick with him and he turns out to be a damaged good, his trade value will drop.

  • Livermore Joe

    Thanks, Magic. I like Patty Mills, too. He was impressive during the Olympics. Kobe Bryant had some nice things to say about him. I hope he stays in school another year, though.

    I saw Steve Nash play against St. Mary’s when I was there. During my senior year, St. Mary’s had a decent squad, like 17 wins I think, Ernie Kent was still there, and Nash came into our gym. The place was packed to the rafters, three thousand people in a tiny place, screaming their hearts out, super tight game, and Nash hit 20 out of 21 free throws and basically won it from the line. He shut us all up.

    Right after that game, on the way out, in fact, I turned to one of my roommates and told him, I think that guy is an NBA player. He scoffed and called Nash a scrub. I’m not right too often but that time, I nailed it.

    I saw Jason Kidd and Cal play St. Mary’s at the Coliseum that year, too. They smoked us, but that was when they had Kidd and Lamond Murray, back before Todd what’s his name destroyed Cal basketball.

  • ECJ

    I read this “saga” that is brewing and I have mixed impressions. I’ve defended Nelson often times in this blog and elsewhere.. I feel that he deserves respect for his accomplishments as a coach, and his knowledge and creativity. I like that he speaks his mind, and makes his young players earn their respect. However, I sometimes struggle to see the value in his approach, and this situation with Ellis and Crawford is one of those times.

    Why the need to call Crawford into a meeting to discuss his future with the team in the middle of this season? Why risk disrupting team chemistry, or placing Crawford in a position where he has to play out this season knowing he isn’t particularly welcomed as a Warrior moving forward? Why risk losing the trust of players who do figure into the team’s plans by ostracizing Crawford now? Crawford is a popular player, and I’m sure his teammates will not respect any mistreatment of him by Nelson or the W’s upper brass..

    As for Ellis, I think that Nelson is probably bitter toward his new star.. Nelson is a great coach.. most likely a hall of fame coach. Although I’m sure he expected the team to take a step back with the loss of Baron Davis, Nelson was not expecting to preside over a bunch of upstarts with no leadership, and he definitely wasn’t expecting to coach his team to a season that will likely end with a record of worse than 30 games below 500..

    I think Nelson blames Ellis for ruining what will likely be one of his last as a coach.. And I can understand that. What Ellis did WAS stupid, it WAS selfish; and it DID ruin this season for the team. The organization invested its future in Ellis, and Ellis ruined the team’s entire season. Even if the Warriors wouldn’t have made the playoffs this year, they could have come together as a team, and developed chemistry with their new pieces. With Ellis missing almost the entire season, next year will likely be that developmental year, pushing the team’s progress back even further.

    All in all, I wish Nelson would bite his tongue, and be a bit more diplomatic. I do understand that he has a legit gripe with Ellis, but being harsh with Crawford is senseless.


  • justafan

    Regime change!!!!~ Chris Cohan must sell the team for any meaningful change to happen all the rest of this is just self mutilation. All I want is an NBA team to watch not a D league drama.

  • Petaluman

    Incomplete story. There’s been speculation about Jamal opting out floating around for weeks. The Warriors send him a message that he’s likely trade bait if he doesn’t. Would you be happier if we put their hands over their ears and mumbled “…hear no evil…”?

    Of course, that we would consider trading him is painfully obvious to any NBA observer. First, we have a glut of guards. Second, he’s the only large contract we have with less than 4 years on it. Third, he’s a 10M expiring in 2010, “the year of the FA”. What is the heart of any major s&t? Why, it’s a large expiring contract.

    That doesn’t make a trade for him a certainty, though. Unless the other team is below the cap, we have to take back comparable salary. Still, he’s a big enough contract that we can hope to get back a quality veteran or solid prospect, at least.

  • Livermore Joe

    If the plan was to get Jamal Crawford to opt out, or to trade him, wouldn’t a better strategy be to enhance his value, rather than decrease it? If Crawford were to come in and average a career best, wouldn’t he be more likely to opt out?

    Instead, Nelson comes up with a strategy (confronting and icing the player) that achieves the exact opposite: the player is less likely to have a good season so he’s less likely to want to opt out and the team is likely to realize a lesser return in any trade scenario because everyone knows the situation with Crawford has deteriorated and the Warriors must move him.

    I suppose you could argue that humiliating Crawford might make him so miserable that he would opt out regardless of the economic environment, but how does that approach truly help the team?

  • blah

    Crawford and our first pick for Blake Griffin, would be wise if doable.

  • One of the complaints with Nellie’s handling of Ellis after he came back from his rehab was that he was playing practically 40 minutes a game. Now, that he gets a reasonable 30 minutes, Nellie gets ragged on for not playing him more.

    Crawford needs his minutes too so he can showcase what he can do which makes a better case for him to opt out at the end of season.

  • Max_In_Missouri

    So much drama for such a crappy franchise

    Who cares? I honestly don’t understand how even the bay area beat writers care enough to write about this team

    Do ppl in Oakland actually like Nelson?

    Make the playoffs for a 2nd time in 15 years and then we’ll try to give a shit

  • gmoney

    Nellie didn’t humiliate Crawford. He went to him man to man and told him which way they were heading. Like Nellie said, it was private. The fact that Crawford decided to spill the beans cause the humiliation. I am sure players appreciate a coach who is willing to tell them the truth even if it isn’t pleasant.

    Truth is, Nellie doesn’t want to have to trade him. He wants him to opt out. How do you trade crawford and his high salary during these hard times? Why play someone now when you know he is not part of your team? Wouldn’t you rather him play the younger guys to see where they stand?

    Any way you slice it, this overanalyzation of Nellie is a little bit out of control. Believe it or not, his decades of experience actually makes him more qualified than all of us monday morning qb’s.