Notes from shootaround

Some tidbits from the Warriors’ shootaround this morning at Oracle.

It looks like the team will once again dress less than 10 players. Corey Maggette (head contusion) was not at shootaround as he was being checked out by a physician Monday morning. He will be a game-time decision. Andris Biedrins (left ankle) said he would like to play again this season, but it looks like he’ll be out for at least one more week. According to Biedrins, Don Nelson has told him that there’s no reason to rush back if there’s a chance he could make the injury worse.

Same goes for Brandan Wright (left shoulder), who went to see a doctor after shootaround. Hopefully, we’ll have an update on him just before tonight’s game. Marco Belinelli (right ankle) also saw his doctor Monday afternoon.  

Monta Ellis had cold-like symptoms earlier today and was not at the shootaround, but he is expected to play tonight.


Jackson done for year

Just a few quick notes before tonight’s game at the Pepsi Center.

Stephen Jackson will have season-ending surgery on his left big toe on Tuesday in Houston to remove bone fragments. The operation will be performed by Rockets team doctor Thomas Clanton. The rehab schedule for Jackson, one of seven Warriors out of action tonight, will be determined after the surgery.

As expected, Jamal Crawford will play tonight after being out of action for the last six games.

As mentioned yesterday, Brandan Wright is out tonight with a sore left shoulder, the same shoulder that he seperated against the Lakers on Jan. 7. He hurt it against the Spurs and played with it against the Mavs. Wright will have it looked at once the team returns to Oakland and talking to him before the game, Wright said there is no clear timetable for his return. It appears he and the team aren’t looking to rush things.

Not much else to update right now. I’ll post something after the game.

- Curtis Pashelka


And then there were eight…

Hey everyone. Just filling in for Marcus while he begins his five-day “vacation.” Of course, he went ahead and broke all kinds of rules with a blog post this morning. Just shows his level of dedication. 

Many of you probably saw this Stephen Jackson video yesterday on hoopshype.com, where he basically said that it’s time to ”shut it down and get (his toe fracture) fixed” and begin the process of getting ready for next season. According to a Warriors’ spokesperson, Jackson is seeing a specialist today. An update on how that appointment went may be forthcoming later on.

Corey Maggette (head contusion) has returned to the Bay Area, joining Andris Biedrins and Marco Belinelli. Brandan Wright (left shoulder pain) will not play against the Nuggets on Saturday. The team also reported Friday morning that Jermareo Davidson had successful surgery to repair the stress fracture in his left foot. He’ll be immobilized for the next month.

In case you’re counting, that leaves eight players available for Saturday’s game (Azubuike, Crawford, Ellis, Kurz, Morrow, Randolph, Turiaf, Watson). Should be a great time.


Team Drama At It Again

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.”


Whew! Now Let’s Play Catch-Up

OK, a lot has happened super fast. There was quite a bit of info, thoughts I didn’t get into my story for tomorrow’s paper. Here are some of the major points of the article, some of my thoughts, and some answers to your questions. Ready? Breathe. Read.

* I was told consistently by a source that Maggette got five years, $50 million. At the last-minute, I heard it was five years, $40 million. But my source reiterated that it was $50 million. That $10 million is a huge difference. That deal looks a whole lot better if it is for $40 million.

* Heard late in the evening that the Warriors made an offer to Ronny Turiaf! Don’t know all the details yet, but I was told it averaged about $4M a year. Ronny is restricted, so if the Warriors sign him to an offer sheet, the Lakers can match. I’m not sure if I like this or not yet. Turiaf is one of those dudes who impresses you in spots, but when you step back and look at what he brings overall, he’s not to impressive. He does some things well, not so much others. Is he worth $4M? Over three years, sure, why not. The Warriors need a hustler, a body not afraid to bang.

* I was shunned by Baron’s people. He nor his agent responded to the one question I had: With Brand going to Philly, is there ANY chance AT ALL that Baron goes back to the negotiating table with the Warriors? I got no love. A contact did tell me that the Clippers spent Tuesday evening talking to Baron, convincing him to stay, even working out the details of the contract (as well as preparing a fat offer sheet for Atlanta’s Josh Smith). They were pretty sure he was staying, but he was rumored to be livid over Brand’s Boozer impersonation.

* Pietrus got love from Orlando because Otis Smith, the Magic’s GM, likes Pietrus. They had some kind of bond when Smith was with the Warriors and Pietrus was a youngster. That helped MP2 get what he got. Orlando needed a replacement for Maurice Evans, who is now a free agent. There is even talk that Pietrus could start.

* Didn’t I say top-tier ballers don’t want to play for the Warriors? Brand turned down some $10 million more from the Warriors to go to … Philly! Dang. That was a straight slap in the face to the Warriors. Did the Warriors really think they were going to get a player better than Baron?

* Speaking of Brand, he just went from one of the league’s character examples to supplanting Carlos Boozer as the face of reneging. Check this out – Brand, according to insider scuttle, turned down virtually the same amount from the Clippers. Los Angeles got up to $80 million and was willing to renounce more players if necessary to give Brand more. Still, he chose Philly.

* So the salary cap is $58.7 million. The luxury tax will be $71.1 million. Based on my estimation, and figuring this out cost me hours of my life I’ll never get back, the Warriors are at about $50 million including the cap holds. Here is the breakdown:
Al Harrington – $9.23
Corey Maggette – $8.50
Stephen Jax – $7.14
Andris Biedrins – $7.90 (cap hold)
Adonal Foyle – $6.50 (buyout price)
Brandan Wright – $2.50
Kosta Perovic – $1.70
Ant Randolph – $1.70 (rookie scale max)
Monta Ellis – $1.54 (cap hold)
Marco Belinelli – $1.45 (rookie scale max)
Kelenna Azubuike-$0.89 (cap hold)
Richard Hendrix – $0.44 (league minimum)
C.J. Watson – $0.71 (minimum salary, non-guaranteed)
Total – $50.20

That leaves the Warriors with some $8 million to spend before hitting the cap. If Andris signs a deal starting at a salary equal to his cap hold, the the Warriors can sign a free agent or two before signing Ellis and Andris. They’ll have close to $10 million if they wait to sign Randolph until they hit the cap, which they can do under CBA rules. They would also have more if they traded Harrington and got less money back.

*Here’s a concern I have: what happens when Monta and Andris want more than Maggette? Monta certainly has a claim. Say the Warriors start Monta at $9 a year (which would be $67.5M contract over six years). And say they start Biedrins at $8. That would make Stephen Jackson the fifth-highest paid player on the team.
Now, he’s up for an extension. I seriously doubt if he gets one. How is he going to react to being so far down on the salary pole but being a leader on this team while getting no extension love? Remember, Jackson has watched Richardson get shipped out unexpectedly as if he wasn’t the heart and soul of the team. He watched Pietrus and his boy Barnes get hardballed into a one-year deal. He watched his “brother” Baron Davis get his extension requests rejected in consecutive offseasons and then “lowballed” (in his eyes). He’s watching his other close friend, Al Harrington, once highly coveted by the Warriors, become a role player.
You have to wonder if Jackson is going to take one for the team or try to get his paper.

* With the way restricted free agents are about to get squeezed (only the clippers have money left), don’t be surprised if several of them ask for a sign-and-trade or choose to play for the one-year qualifying offer (and become restricted free agents next season). Including Andris. The free agent market is kind of skimpy this offseason – thanks to all the money going to the few big names out there. Some of the second-tier stars will shine a lot brighter in 2009.

* I still say go after Rasheed Wallace or Shawn Marion or Lamar Odom. Use Harrington, future draft picks, etc. – maybe even Stephen Jackson – to get a proven All-Star. They all are one-and-done, which could give the Warriors cap space next year if they don’t work out.


It’s Randolph…

For once, the draft gods smile on the Warriors: Anthony Randolph, expected by many to be gone by the time Golden State drafted at 14, slipped through to the team with the worst lottery luck in NBA history.
It’s a pick that’s may not make much impact for next season — at 6-10 and 197 pounds, Randolph is in many ways a clone of Brandan Wright, and Wright earned only 376 minutes out of Don Nelson as a rookie last year — but adds another athletically gifted piece to the Warriors’ long-term plan.
Best line of the night so far comes from ESPN’s Jay Bilas: “(Randolph) makes Brandan Wright look like Mr. America.”

– Geoff


Draft Prospects: C Brook Lopez

Comparison: The common one is Clippers center Chris Kaman. But he’s significantly more skilled and imposing down low. He’s more of a true center than Lopez will ever be. I see Brook as more of a Andrew Bogut type.

Strengths: Brook’s combination of size and skill makes him a potential NBA stud. He is a legitimate 7-footer, even bigger because of his super wingspan. As a you’d expect from a Stanford product, he has a good basketball IQ and solid fundamentals. He has enough athleticism to survive, perhaps even more than he gets credit for. He probably won’t be finishing alley-oops on fastbreaks, but he can run the floor, manuever inside and react sufficiently. His sheer size and understanding of the game offsets his athletic shortcomings. Brook has a nice touch and soft hands, which really shine when he has the ball in the paint. He can finish and pass. He also can score in the post. He has smooth low-post moves, a certain fluidity that comes with having a feel for the paint. He knows the intangibles of playing inside: how to establish position, how to use his strength to get where he wants, how to gain leverage against the post defender, understanding of how to take up space, the coordination to improvise on the fly. He also has a motor in him. plays hard on both ends, which is why he’s so productive. He’s an OK shot blocker, pretty good at protecting the basket from the weakside.

Weaknesses: He’s not as athletic as many NBA big men, not as athletic as his twin brother Robin. That will hurt him on the defensive end more than anything. He should be a better shotblocker based on his size and wingspan, but he’s just not quick enough nor can jump high enough to dominate at the rim. His so-so athleticism is a disadvantage on the boards, but athleticism is not a prerequisite for being a good rebounder. He should be averaging more than 8.6 per game. Not that good from the free throw line, considering his touch, but that can be worked on. Gets a little to psyched out sometimes and takes bad shots. Non way she should be shooting under 47 percent from the floor. The same motor and gung-ho approach that makes him productive sometimes has him doing too much. He’s got a nice postgame, but he’s going to have to expand it. He’s rather predictable on offense, so scouts won’t have a hard time figuring out how to contain him.

Fit With the Warriors: The Warriors certainly can use some of what Brook has. They need someone who can score with their back to the basket. He can. They need someone with some size who can be a presence in the middle. He can. They need a big man who can stick a mid-range jumper. He can. The only question is do you want him over Andris Biedrins? Do you need him enough to move up in the draft? Not to me.
Sure, Brook could be a nice back-up at first. But eventually, he’d either have to be a starter. He’s not athletic enough to play power forward for the Warriors, especially not as athletic as Brandan Wright, which means he has to play center. If he doesn’t eventually become a starter, he’d be considered a bust (you see what happened to PO’B). Plus the Warriors have a cheaper back-up center who has a similar game, perhaps even better, in Kosta Perovic.
If Brook does become the starter, where does that leave Biedrins? I’d prefer Biedrins’ hustle, rebounding knack and stellar field goal percentage. I would rather bank on Biedrins adding to his game what Brook has rather than waiting for Brook to add what Biedrins brings.

Chances of ending up a Warrior: Not as low as once expected. As perhaps the best big man in the draft, Brook was once considered a lock at No. 3. He still may go there, but now some are thinking that’s too high for him. His potential isn’t as high as some other players. NBADraft.net has him going to Charlotte at No. 9. Only three teams between No. 3 and 13 has a center as their biggest need: Minnesota, Memphis and New Jersey. If they go “best player available” there is reason to believe they could pass on Brook. If the Warriors really wanted him, and Minnesota or Memphis doesn’t take him, its feasible they could work a deal to move up to 9 or 10 and nab him.

Take a look at what they’d be getting in Brook: