Don Nelson to resign

Jan. 03, 2010: Golden State coach Don Nelson is also the former Dallas Mavericks coach during an NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX Dallas defeated Golden State 110-101.

Per CSN Bay Area…

Nelson, the NBA’s all-time coaching leader in victories with 1,335 wins, will be replaced by longtime Warriors assistant coach Keith Smart, according to the sources.

Nelson, who had one year remaining on his contract worth $6 million, returned to the Bay Area last Sunday night, according to general manager Larry Riley in an interview earlier this week.

Riley said Nelson had been watching the team scrimmages and doing his usual office-type things to get ready for the season during that conversation.

But, according to two sources, it was obvious that Nelson wasn’t overly enthusiastic about leaving Maui, where he makes his home, and returning to coach the Warriors.

Several sources indicated that Nelson will be paid the remainder of his contract.

He “wasn’t overly enthusiastic about leaving Maui.” I’ve been to Maui twice, so I can relate. No one is really enthusiastic about leaving Maui.

So Nelson comes back to the Bay Area, wanders around the team facilities for a few days, grumbles about how he’d rather be sitting at a bar in Lahaina or lounging on Ka’anapali Beach and now he’s heading back to Maui with his full salary of $6 million?

What a life!

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Detailing the Mark Cuban/Don Nelson split

This is probably only interesting to NBA nuts and Mavs fans, but the transcript from the Cuban/Nelson arbitration hearing has been released, and there are some interesting tidbits of information. Like the story of how the Mavs almost drafted Pavel Podkolzin at #5 (instead of Devin Harris) in 2004.

But as June’s draft loomed, Nelson testified that he had no reason to believe he wouldn’t continue to lead that process, noting that he had selected standout Josh Howard with the 29th pick of the previous year’s draft.

On draft day, the Mavericks acquired the No. 5 pick from Washington. Nelson testified that as he settled into the draft room to talk to team scouts, he was surprised to hear son Donnie, the team’s vice president of operations, discuss taking “this big Russian” with the No. 5 pick.

The player’s name is redacted from the arbitration transcript, but it is clear that Nelson was referring to 7-foot-5 Pavel Podkolzin.

“I said, ‘Donnie, I cannot take that Russian five,’ ” Don Nelson testified. “And he asked me if I would go in the men’s room. I went in the men’s room with him, and he informed me that I wasn’t in charge of the draft.

“And I said, ‘Oh, really? Well, who is?’ He said, ‘I am.’ And I said, ‘Well, it’s nice of somebody to tell me.’

“And I said, ‘Well, if that’s the case, then as your father I’m asking you don’t draft [redacted].’ … And Donnie didn’t. He took Devin Harris.”

Later in that draft, the Mavericks sent a future first-round pick to Utah for the rights to No. 21 pick Podkolzin – who never played a regular-season game for Dallas.

The article also discusses how the Mavs failed to match Phoenix’s offer to Steve Nash, and how that affected the franchise.

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Don Nelson is playing mind games with Jamal Crawford

After the season, Jamal Crawford can opt out of the final two years of his contract. Those two years would pay him $19.5 million, so given the current state of the economy and the coming “nuclear winter” for NBA free agents, it’s highly unlikely that he’d be able to find that kind of money in the open market. But Tim Kawakami says that Golden State head coach Don Nelson is pushing the guard to opt out.

I’ve heard that when Nelson explained Crawford’s recent one-game benching, he spoke about getting the younger players more time, etc, etc.

But Nelson also told Crawford that he was doing the complete benching in order to help Crawford’s per-game averages, all the better for when (or if) Crawford opts-out, which Nelson very much wants him to do this summer.

That is a loud and clear NBA message, by the way. By even mentioning the opt-out (Crawford can erase the final two years and $19M+ on his deal), Nelson was indicating to Crawford that Nelson wanted him to opt-out.

Even more, Nelson was suggesting that Crawford HAD BETTER OPT-OUT or else Nelson would probably make sure that the situation next year isn’t to Crawford’s liking.

My understanding is that Crawford’s reaction was the same as any proud player’s reaction: Why in the world should I be pushed into a decision like that?

Nelson is trying to shove Crawford into opting out, and therefore messing up Crawford’s marketability, which, in the end, probably will drive Crawford NOT to opt out this summer.

I repeat: What in the world is Nelson doing? If you guess that he’s trying to make things as messy as possible, either to shake up the Warriors or to make his firing (with TWO YEARS and $12M left on the deal after this season) as inevitable and quick as possible…

Exactly. Given Nelson’s actions, it only makes it more likely that Crawford would stand his ground and choose to play out the final two years of his contract. The only way I can see an opt out in this scenario is if the situation in Golden State is so bad that Crawford decides it’s not worth the money to stay. Nelson would be better off trying to work with Crawford, but it seems like the two are past that point. The guy is averaging 19.6 points and 4.4 assists per game — it’s not like his contract is dead money. Sure, he has never been known as a good defender and he’s not an efficient scorer (41% FG%), but that shouldn’t be a surprise to the Warriors. Crawford has been in the league for eight years — what did they expect? (And since when did Nelson put a lot of stock in defense?)

One of the things I’d like to see in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement is non-guaranteed contracts. Teams should be able to cut a player if they are underperforming, injured or if the relationship has just run its course. As a consequence, the team would have to pay 50% of the player’s salary for the remainder of the contract. If the player is picked up on waivers, his new team would pay the other 50%, essentially getting him at half price. If he clears waivers, he becomes a free agent and would be able to sign with whomever he likes. This system would reduce the number of dead contracts around the league (which would make management happy) and allow for more player movement in bad situations like Crawford’s (which would make the players happy) while still allowing for some security if a player is injured or his game disappears. This, combined with shorter contracts — three years when a player signs with a new team, four years when he re-signs with his current team — would make it a lot tougher for bad general managers to get their teams into salary cap hell. (I’m looking at you, Ernie Grunfeld.)

Knicks, Warriors agree to Crawford/Harrington trade

Al Harrington said he wanted out, and the Warriors have swung a deal to send the forward to the Knicks for Jamal Crawford.

Harrington went public with a trade demand just before the start of the season after privately urging Golden State to move him for months. New York had immediate interest, seeing the versatile and mobile Harrington as an ideal frontcourt fit in new coach Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system.

It will require the Knicks to part with Crawford, their leading scorer and another player they had pegged to flourish under D’Antoni. The Warriors, according to NBA front-office sources, see Crawford as a versatile guard who, although not a pure floor leader, can function well in coach Don Nelson’s system while Monta Ellis recovers from ankle surgery — and in tandem with Ellis once he returns.

Yet it’s believed that Walsh has multiple motivations for re-acquiring one of his favorites. Another sizable lure is Harrington’s contract, which pays him $9.2 million this season, $10 million next season and expires after the 2009-10 campaign. That meshes with New York’s intent to slice payroll and get as far under the salary cap as possible for the highly anticipated free-agent summer of 2010 to join the bidding for Cleveland’s LeBron James.

Crawford has a player option after this season that would extend his contract by two years and $19.4 million. He is likely to exercise that option, so the Knicks were smart to move him if the main goal is to cut salary prior to the summer of 2010, when a number of high-profile free agents may hit the market.

The combo guard is playing the best ball of his career, and at 28, he is in his prime. He should be a nice fit in Golden State with or without Monta Ellis at his side. Crawford can run the point, but his natural position is off guard. He’s a volume shooter, as he has only shot better than 42% once in his career. But when he gets hot, he’s an unstoppable scorer.

Al Harrington has seen his numbers decline over the last few seasons after falling out of favor with Don Nelson. He should be a good fit as a power forward in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo attack. He’s athletic and can hit the long ball pretty effectively. I’m not sure what this means for David Lee, who plays the same position as Harrington (albeit in a very different way). It’s possible that the Knicks will package Lee with Zach Randolph or Eddy Curry in order to sweeten the pot for potential trade partners. Getting rid of either contract would go a long way to clearing serious cap space in the near future.

Al Harrington wants out of Golden State

Al Harrington doesn’t get along with Don Nelson and wants to be traded.

The Warriors forward confirmed late Tuesday that he and his agent, Dan Fegan, met earlier with vice president Chris Mullin to reiterate Harrington’s unhappiness with coach Don Nelson and his desire to be moved.

“If you ask me if I want to be traded, I’ve been wanting to be traded since the end of last season,” Harrington said. “With everything that happened in the summer and coming into training camp, I was hoping things were going to work out between me and Nellie, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

“It is what it is. That’s being all the way honest. That’s putting it out there. Do I think that Al might have to be traded? Do I think it’s going to work with me and Nellie? I don’t think so. That’s how I feel.”

Harrington had never made it a secret that he felt underutilized and often out of position in Nelson’s system, but the forward/center had always done what was asked, and, until now, kept his major grievances in-house.

Harrington was irked by Nelson’s decision to play him only 17 minutes in a preseason game that Nellie said he would coach as if it were a regular season game.

With only one more year (not including this season) remaining on his contract at the tune of $10 million, he shouldn’t be too hard to move. He averaged 13.6 points and 5.7 rebounds last season for the Warriors, down from 17.0 points and 6.4 rebounds the season before. His minutes were trimmed, which is the reason for the drop off.

With Monta Ellis missing at least the first few months of the season, the Warriors are not off to a very good start.

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