Warriors coach Don Nelson, still feeling the effects of pneumonia, was advised not to go on the upcoming five-game road trip that begins Monday at Oklahoma City.
“The last thing you want is a setback,” Nelson said after practice Friday. “I have to take the advice from the guys who know more than I do.”
In addition, the Warriors will be without guard Anthony Morrow on Saturday night’s game against Orlando. Morrow will miss the game due to a death in his family. He will rejoin the team for practice on Sunday and won’t miss any games on the road trip.
Nelson, who will coach the Warriors game Saturday, was “strongly advised” by the team doctors and general manager Larry Riley to not make the trip. He coached Thursday night’s loss to Houston, his first game back since being diagnosed with pnuemonia – which kept him out of action for five games.
But Nelson reported dizziness, excessive warmth and perspiration Thursday night and Friday morning. Because of that, plus Nelson’s penchant for not always adhering to medical advice, Riley decided to have a long talk with Nelson about sitting out the trip.
Riley emphasized the urging was solely out of concern for Nelson’s health.
“It’s about his health and it’s about the fact this is a difficult trip,” Riley said, latter adding, “I want him back. I want him to take this time while we are on this trip. We come back sometime after the middle of December. By that period of time, I expect him to be fully recovered.”
Assistant coach Keith Smart will once again assume the role of acting head coach during the road trip.
It’s been widely understood, and more than intimated by head coach Don Nelson, that Keith Smart will be the Warriors next head coach. But Nelson’s possible departure and the recent shake-up in the coaching ranks has brought up an interesting question.
Should the Warriors stick to their plans of annointing Smart as the successor? Or should they go out and get one of the names that are available?
Honestly, it’s a tough call. The names are enticing. Avery Johnson, who was introduced as coach of the year just two years ago. Mike D’Antonio, who is reportedly but unofficially out in Phoenix, has mastered the system similar to the one the Warriors play. Sam Mitchell, who may get fired in Toronto, was last season’s coach of the year and one of the young talents in the league. Flip Saunders may be on his way out, too.
These are all winning coaches. Avery and D’Antoni (if he becomes available) Playoff coaches. Avery has been to the Finals. D’Antoni has been to the West Finals. They couldn’t get their team to a championship, which is why they are (likely) out, but they have gotten their team to the playoffs regularly, which is the next step for the Warriors.
If you are Chris Mullin, do you go out and get a proven coach who can take this team to the next level? Or do you stick with the groomed assistant who knows the system, the organization and COULD be one of the next young coaching talents?
As tempting as it is to go nab one of those vets, it may be more beneficial to go with the guy who is familiar to the franchise. A new guy would have to a spend a year or two getting accustomed to the team, to the franchise, to the media, to the fans. There’s a whole feeling out period that needs to go on, which could cost the Warriors a season of progress. True, it may be a necessary price to get to the ultimate goal, but that may not be the best thing coming off missing the postseason. True, it may take Smart as much or more time to get used to being the head man. But he may just be able to smoothly step in, as did Avery.
Another reason I’d say go with Smart is the cost. Smart is cheaper than Avery or D’Antoni (should he become available), and could turn out to be just as good. Remember, Avery and D’Antoni were young, unknown commodities when they first took over. They stepped into to great situations and thrived. If Smart can do the same, and it’s set up for him to do so, they Warriors will get the same results for much cheaper. That money is better served going towards the luxury tax they’ll have to pay to bring in some help.
As tempting as it is to get the proven commodity, I’d say stick to the plan. Stick with Smart.
Last season, I considered Nellie a legitimate Coach of the Year candidate. This season – though the team added 6 wins to it’s record from last year – I don’t think he did as good a job. As a matter of fact, I think he had as much of a hand in the Warriors missing the playoffs as anyone. That said, he did a solid job. I don’t know how many coaches could squeeze 48 wins out of this roster. I thought they’d get 42 or 43 wins and miss the playoffs. I wasn’t sold on the hype, so Nellie gets credit for making the Warriors practically a 15-win team.
The assistant coaches, from what I could tell, had a big hand in keeping that locker room from falling apart. They did the ego massaging and explaining that Nellie wouldn’t.
• 48-34 record
• Nurtured Ellis into a productive force despite his obvious flaws. Though Nellie believes Monta’s brightest future is at PG, he didn’t stubbornly stick to that and went with a small backcourt. Turning Monta loose was at SG was key to the team’s success
• Same thing applies for Biedrins. Nellie would much rather a center who can shoot from outside. But he, instead, milked Biedrins for what he could bring. He probably shouldn’t get kudos for that, as that is what coaches do. But with Nellie’s judgemental coaching style, its worth mentioning
• Gave responsibility to Keith Smart, presumably the next head coach. Smart ran practices, led the huddle during timeouts, addressed the team in the locker room after games, etc. It is important that the players see Smart as head coach when he does take over, and Nellie helped make sure that happened by letting Smart spend some time in the big chair.
• Ran Baron and Jackson into the ground (and tried to run Monta in the ground) because of his lack of faith in reserves. Justified or not, you can’t play 82 games with seven players.
•He ruined a lot of players confidence, which is counterproductive to the task at hand. His irregular rotation and sharpe tongue didn’t bring out the most in everyone – namely Harrington, Barnes, Pietrus and Azubuike.
•Failed to get rookies of the future much-needed playing time, which means they’ll still be green next year (not so much B-Wright), just like Kelenna and Patrick were still raw this year. It’s hard to believe Belinelli and Watson couldn’t give anything if given some decent playing time.
One argument is that the Warriors won 48 games and that is a major plus. But another argument is that they misses the playoffs by a game because they couldn’t beat a suspect Denver team at home. Nellie is a major reason for both.
GRADE FOR COACHING STAFF: B- (the assistant coaches boosted it up from a C+