Unlike last season, or the season before that, the Warriors enter training camp settled at starting point guard last season. (Actually, that’s not correct. The Warriors were settled at starting point guard last season. It’s just who they settled on, Monta Ellis, didn’t leave fans too comfortable about the position.)
Camp starts this year with Stephen Curry’s name inked in the starting lineup, in blood. But now that coach Don Nelson is gone, and the expectation is that player minutes will go down, the question becomes who backs up Curry? The Warriors have an extra roster spot and could sign a point guard. But first, they’re going to check out the options they have in hand.
I’ve been talking to several principles in the Warriors organization, most of it off-the-record conversation. I’ve learned a few things — such as they won’t be getting Carmelo Anthony, even though they’ve tried hard to acquire him, and Anthony Tolliver was a point of contention between Don Nelson and management.
But the one thing that stands out most is that, for the first time in a long time, they seem pretty happy about themselves. Usually, I’m getting a sales job thrown my way. This time, I’m getting a wait-and-see response, with a half a smile or a certain tone. There is an odd sense of feel good.
I had talked to a few players earlier this summer about whether they wanted to leave. They all said they’d rather Don Nelson to be back, but if the team went a different direction, their vote was for Keith Smart.
Certainly, Smart has the support in the locker room. And he makes the most sense because of the timing. He has already already prepped for training camp (he and Stephen Silas did on their own) and he already has a rapport with the players. He has been groomed by Nelson, in Nelson’s system. Also, he’s young enough and inexperienced enough to allow the Warriors to put him on a trial basis.
But is he the guy for the future?
UPDATED: According to multiple sources, the Warriors are cutting coach Don Nelson’s tenure a year short and giving Keith Smart the head coaching job. This will go down officially on Monday at the team’s media day.
Nelson has one year on his contract, for $6 million, but the Warriors – which have a new ownership group led by Joe Lacob – is deciding to start their new
ear era now (Thanks @FRSHBattle). According to one of the sources, the Warriors have agreed to a settlement package with Nelson, who is getting the entire $6 million according to one source.
Smart is getting a shot to see if he’s the coach of the future, and Calbert Cheaney is moving to the bench to be an assistant, a source said. It also gives the Warriors time to find a new coach if Smart is not the guy. Nelson is in town and one source said he has talked with Joe Lacob, the incoming owner.
Good news and bad news.
Bad news first? My vacation is over. Back on the grind. No more chilling, playing with the 3 year old all day.
Good news: Warriors won’t hold back in their pursuit of Carmelo Anthony. Not that it’s going to land the perennial all-star. But a couple insiders have told me the Warriors are willing to trade for Carmelo even if he doesn’t sign an extension.