4

Inside: The End

Emptying out the notebook at the sooner-than-expected conclusion to the Warriors’ season:

** Just as Don Nelson is unrepentant regarding l’affaire Baron, Chris Mullin is equally OK with the waste of time, money, energy and resources that was Chris Webber’s Warriors comeback. Before they signed him, I said on KNBR that “the guy can’t run,” and I saw no evidence to dispute that theory while he was with the Warriors.

The recognition of the need to add another rotation player to a rapidly tiring team was good; settling for a guy that clearly gummed up the works in his season debut – which just happened to be the Chicago loss on Feb. 7, a game where the visiting Bulls were missing their top three players – was not.

Nevertheless, Mullin gave an immediate “no” when asked if he thought the Webber fixation cost his team any games.

“I think we may have won that Boston game (because of Webber), actually,” Mullin said. “I thought he did a good job in that game (on Feb. 20). I thought he played well. Baron made that incredible shot, but I thought defensively, (Webber) helped us that night.”

** Mullin was in pretty good form, humor-wise, during his season-ending chat with print reporters on Wednesday. Among the highlights was his response to a reporter noting that Baron might want “17, 17, 17 and 17,” referring to a three-year extension on top of his $17.8 million salary for the upcoming season.

“That’s a good number,” Mullin said. “I like the number 17, especially if it wasn’t just my (uniform) number. If that was the going salary (when Mullin played), that’d be pretty sweet.”

As for who will represent the Warriors at the draft lottery on May 20, Mullin knows one thing – if past history with the event counts for anything, he won’t be the one in the chair in Secaucus, N.J.

“From that standpoint, I shouldn’t do it, because the first year they had it, it was the worst (outcome), the booby prize,” Mullin said, referring to the initial lottery of 1985, when the Warriors were denied a shot at No. 1 pick Patrick Ewing despite a league-worst 22-60 record and ended up with a certain lefty out of St. John’s. “They could have got (No.) 1 through 7, and they got 7. So I’m a bad candidate.”

** Nelson said last week that he made the determination as early as training camp that he’d have to ride the Baron/Jack/Monta triumvirate into the ground in order to compete for a playoff spot. What about guys like Austin Croshere and Troy Hudson, the veterans brought in to firm up the Nos. 9 and 10 spots on the roster? Couldn’t they have been some sort of stopgap measure?

“Do you have any idea who you’re talking about?” Nelson said. “Were you hoping that those guys rise up? They’re at the end of their careers, they were never great players anyway, and now you’re going to ask them to rise up and all of a sudden be something special? At best, they’re a good veteran.”

** The trade-Al-Harrington door swings both ways. While the team mulls over its future with Al – and decides whether his $9.2 million price tag might be better spent on other roster priorities – he will ponder if he wants to endure another season of Nelson’s pointed needling or wants to demand a change of address instead.

That’s not to say Harrington is undeserving of blame, but he certainly bore a disproportionate share of Nellie’s insults. And though Al is too much of a pro to ever admit it, it was clear from watching him that he’s frustrated at being the team’s designated whipping boy.

** Stephen Jackson gets the last word. Asked about the urgency to win during what Nelson says will be his last year (assuming he comes back), Jackson couldn’t help for laughing: “I love Nellie. I hear something different from y’all every week with Coach.”

– Geoff

18

So … It Wasn’t Just Ribs!

Apparently, the Warriors are “seriously interested” in C-Webb. We’re running an article in Saturday’s paper that the Warriors are in talks with Webber, confirmed by team sources.
One of them thinks the two parties are even close to reaching an agreement.
Webber’s top choice is perhaps the Pistons, as he wants to contend for a title and Detroit has the best chances of reaching the Finals of the teams interested. But my colleague Chris McCoskey of the Detroit News, wrote on his blog that Joe Dumars refuses to buy out one of his current players to make room for Webber. The only way Webber gets on the squad is if Dumars trades Flip Murray or Primoz Brezec.
Plus, word on the street is that Dumars isn’t too convinced Webber hasn’t changed his ways. Webber was not the consumate locker room guy when his playing time wasn’t what he wanted.
With Detroit unlikely, Webber’s options are narrowed to the West (maybe Boston gets in the mix).
The Lakers, another team considered a serious contender, have an open roster spot and have also reportedly offered Webber a one-year contract for the veteran minimum. Supposedly Denver has interest in Webber, too. So the Warriors have some competition.
The Warriors have a full complement of 15 players, so to make room for Webber on the roster, they might need to rid of someone. The only one non-guaranteed player, rookie guard C.J. Watson, whose second 10-day deal expires on Monday, perhaps has been too impressive to cut.
“We’re feeling good about him,” Mullin said Thursday. So the odd man out may be guard Troy Hudson, who’s out for the season after hip surgery.
The Times also learned that Webber and Nellie have talked it out, trying to put their past feud behind them. No word yet on whether they’ve hugged it out.
Asked Thursday if he and Webber would be able co-exist if they worked together again, Nelson wouldn’t answer directly.
“Let’s talk about that not in anticipation of something happening or not, let’s talk about it after the fact,” Nelson said. “After it happens, that will be a good question.”

2

Surgery for Troy Hudson; out 3-4 months

There will be a full story up on the Web site momentarily, but in the meantime, T-Hud told the Times exclusively at this morning’s shootaround that he’s going to undergo arthroscopic surgery after Jan. 1 to repair a small labrum tear in his left hip, and will miss three to four months with the rehabilitation. Given that there’s less than four months remaining in the regular season (which ends April 16), it’s almost certainly a season-ending procedure for Hudson — and most likely the end of his Warriors career, which is a shame because he’s a solid guy who deserves better.

UPDATE: Story is up on the site.

– Geoff

11

Troy Hudson’s career finished?

A little note-gathering went a long way at the Target Center this morning. Reporters who were initially looking to grab some quotes about Troy Hudson’s return to the arena where he spent the last five seasons were told by coach Don Nelson that the 11-year veteran may have made his final NBA appearance because of recurring problems with his left hip.

Hudson, who has played in only nine games as a Warrior, is expected to miss at least a month — if not far longer.

“I think Troy’s probably done. I don’t think he’ll play again,” Nelson said. “I’m serious. It’s unfortunate, but he has a hip problem, and I haven’t heard a second opinion, but it doesn’t look good for him. . . . We’re quite concerned that he may not be able to play again. Right now, we’re talking maybe four to six weeks off, and then check again, but he has some (bone) spurs on his hip and arthritic conditions, and it’s just not a positive thing.”

Hudson initially had a flare-up of pain in his hip during the first week of the season. After sitting out 12 games for rest and treatment, he tried to play through what pain remained. That comeback lasted for seven games over two weeks before the pain grew too intense to continue.

“After you wake up day after day limping a different way, you start thinking, ‘Man, I’ve got to make sure this is right before I’ll be walking funny at 35,’” Hudson said.

Hudson has not played since Dec. 12 against Portland. He will see a specialist in New York this week, and plans to see another one in Colorado in the near future, although an appointment is not set.

When Hudson had his initial consultation and MRI scan in November, doctors broached the idea of surgery to repair the hip. But that option would probably cost him 12 to 18 months — a tough prognosis for a guy on a one-year deal.

“If I did have to get a surgery, it could be a surgery where it takes a year and a half to recover,” Hudson said. “A guy who’s 31, 11 years in the league, can’t really take a year and a half off. You would basically have to say, ‘OK, my career could be over.’ Not from the standpoint that I can’t play any more, but the fact that a lot of teams wouldn’t take a chance on a guy who was 33, who had a hip surgery, who’d been out a year and a half.”

– Geoff