The Warriors won 48 games last season and didn't make the playoffs. Coach Don Nelson already has conceded that the playoffs aren't happening this year, either.
"It's a situation where we have a year where we're probably not going to be a playoff team," Nelson said Saturday night before Golden State played the Knicks. "And we're going to build for the future and see who we want to carry along with us for the next, hopefully, number of good years. But this probably won't be one of them."
The Warriors' descent has been swift and painful. Baron Davis left to sign with the Clippers, and Monta Ellis' offseason moped accident -- on the heels of his six-year, $66 million extension – left Nelson without a point guard.
"Monta's injury was a real kick in the teeth," Nelson said.
The Warriors and Knicks, who swapped Al Harrington for Jamal Crawford last week, aren't too entertaining by themselves. Put them together, and you've got something. The Knicks beat Golden State, 138-125, on Saturday night. Chris Duhon -- who replaced the banished Stephon Marbury as the Knicks' starting point guard this season -- set a franchise record with 22 assists to go with his 12 points. David Lee had a career-high 37 points and 21 rebounds.
Corey Maggette had 32 points and 12 rebounds for Golden State, which as Nellie said, is going nowhere fast but down.
Last month, Nelson, 68, got a two-year extension added to his contract for this season. Warriors general manager Chris Mullin, whose contract expires June 30, did not get an extension. Mullin said this past week there have been no discussions about extending his deal.
"I think part of the reason I got an extension this year is that ownership knows that it's not going to be the best year this year, and they want me to feel free to do what's best for the franchise without worrying too much about winning a couple of extra games," Nelson said.
Attention tanking police, please pick up the white courtesy phone.
"We want to win, there's no question," Nelson said. "We want to play the right way. But we realize that there's probably not going to be a lot of wins this year.
"I'm 68 years old and been at it a long time," Nelson said. "And I'm going to say it the way it is if I can. And that's the way it is."
While Nelson presumably will be around to see the rebuilding through, it's not clear who will be joining him. Team president Robert Rowell has been calling the shots, including his contention that the team should be able to see how effectively Ellis returns from his ankle injury before deciding whether to void his contract. Rowell suspended Ellis for 30 games without pay for telling the team it was a basketball-related injury – going against the wishes of Mullin and Nelson.
Mullin was further alienated when his top assistant, Pete D'Alessandro, was fired earlier this month.
"I'm rooting for him," Nelson said of Mullin. "I hope everything works out, but I'm not in charge."
Asked who will be in charge for the long term, Nelson said, "That's kind of what we're determining now."