Posted on: September 23, 2010 8:25 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2010 9:25 pm
In a long-awaited changing of the guard, the Warriors are prepared to oust coach Don Nelson and replace him with assistant coach Keith Smart, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBSSports.com. The plan is to have Smart installed as the new coach in time for the Warriors' media day Monday.
The move has been contemplated within the organization since at least last November, when Nelson started what ended up being the season that saw him become the NBA's winningest coach with something that has become commonplace for him: feuds with two of his best players. Stephen Jackson eventually was traded, Monta Ellis was not, but Nellie stuck around long enough to eclipse Lenny Wilkens' record for wins. But his reign in Golden State appears to be over.
It took an ownership change -- from Chris Cohan to Joe Lacob and Peter Guber -- to finally persuade Nelson to step aside and let Smart, a respected assistant with a promising future as a head coach, take over. According to a person familiar with the team's plans, the new owners did not want to enter the season with Nelson again on the verge of retiring, re-signing or being fired. The details of Smart's contract are yet to be worked out, which is why no formal announcement is expected to come from the Warriors until they convene for media day Monday.
It is not clear whether Nelson, 70, will remain with the Warriors in an advisory capacity; he has one year and $6 million remaining on his contract. It was that remaining money, more so than Nellie's pursuit of Wilkens' record, that kept him from stepping down last season and letting Smart take over. In fact, one person familiar with the awkward unwinding of Nelson's Golden State tenure joked Thursday night, "I wonder if Nellie knows?" It wasn't necessarily a joke.
Nelson will long be remembered for bringing Nellieball to Golden State, the zenith of which was a stirring upset of a 67-win Dallas team -- Nelson's former employer -- as the eighth seed in the 2007 playoffs. But that was followed by three seasons in the lottery, the constant distractions and speculation over how long Nelson would hang around.
At least it appears that Nelson's departure from Golden State won't end with the same acrimony that marred his removal as Mavericks coach in 2005 -- but never say never. Until the details of the transfer of power from Nelson to Smart are finalized, it would be wise to withhold judgment on how amicably this will end. As of now, reports such as this one from Marcus Thompson of the Contra Costa Times indicate that Nellie will be getting is full $6 million even though he's resigning.
Smart, who turned 46 this week, will always be remembered for his heroic, game-winning shot for Indiana against Syracuse in the 1987 NCAA championship game. In Golden State, he'll quickly become known as a coach who runs a structured offense -- something Nelson long eschewed -- and also believes in defense. What's that? Huh? Defense?
Smart's resume bears all the markings of a coach who has worked his way up through the ranks the hard way. From the Fort Wayne Fury to the Dominican Republic to the Latvian National team, Smart has earned this. And he'll have the respect of the locker room -- a locker room populated by some fairly talented players, such as Ellis, Stephen Curry, Andris Biedrins and David Lee -- from day one. And day one will be Monday.
Posted on: January 25, 2010 5:47 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2010 9:40 pm
Javaris Crittenton’s guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful possession of a firearm Monday cleared one of the final hurdles before the David Stern Department of Justice can render its decision.
That is expected to happen, sources said, once investigators and lawyers from the NBA security department speak with Crittenton – that is, if they haven’t already.
The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement requires players facing discipline to cooperate with league investigators once they are out of legal jeopardy. Crittenton’s plea and sentence of one year probation and a $1,000 fine (plus $250 in court costs) cleared the way for him to share his version of the facts with the league.
The proffer of facts presented Monday by prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia revealed that there was “no evidence” Crittenton’s firearm – a 9mm semi-automatic Taurus – was loaded when he pulled it out of his backpack during a dispute with Arenas in the Verizon Center locker room on Dec. 21. Prosecutors also stated: “There also is no evidence that Crittenton ever chambered a round, pulled back the hammer, raised or pointed the firearm, or otherwise brandished the firearm in a threatening manner at any time during this incident.”
The government’s version of events supported earlier statements by Crittenton’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, who had said that his client did not brandish a gun during the argument with Arenas. But does that mean Crittenton – or Arenas, for that matter – will be viewed more favorably by Stern? Most likely not, and here’s why:
The closest precedents for this case are Stephen Jackson’s seven-game suspension for firing a gun into the air outside an Indianapolis strip club in 2006, and two gun-related suspensions assessed to Sebastian Telfair. In 2005, Telfair was suspended two games when a gun was found in his luggage on a team flight, and in 2008 he was suspended three games after getting pulled over with a loaded gun in his car. With the public calling for – and the players association bracing for – a lengthy suspension for Arenas of between 25 games and the rest of the season, how can Stern go there when at least some of the facts acknowledged by prosecutors suggest a tone more consistent with a practical joke than a gun battle? How could Arenas’ suspension stretch many times longer than those given to Jackson and Telfair?
Here’s how: First of all, witnesses who were in the locker room at the time of the incident gave conflicting accounts to the authorities as to whether Crittenton’s gun was loaded. You and I would do the same. How would you know? One source told CBSSports.com that the players present – Randy Foye, Mike Miller, and DeShawn Stevenson – ran out of the locker room when the guns came out. As you might imagine, nobody in his right mind is going to stick around to find out if the guns are loaded. Even under some aspects of the D.C. criminal code, brandishing an unloaded gun carries the same penalty as brandishing a loaded one because potential victims have no way of telling the difference.
Also, Arenas and Crittenton crossed a precedent-setting line that neither Jackson nor Telfair crossed: They brought the guns onto NBA property – i.e., the locker room – and worse than that, they took them out. This, along with Arenas’ decision to mock the seriousness of gun play with his fake-guns display in a pre-game huddle on Jan. 5, set him up for a lengthy ban by Stern. The only factor in Arenas’ favor, in my opinion, is the suspension that is pending for the Cavaliers’ Delonte West, who was pulled over in Maryland last year carrying a loaded arsenal. If Arenas gets 50 games, what does West get? A hundred?
Aside from NBA investigators interviewing Crittenton, one other issue will have to be resolved before this is over. Under the CBA, players who have committed on-court transgressions are eligible to appeal suspensions of longer than 12 games to a grievance arbitrator. In all other cases, Stern is the arbitrator – and you can imagine the success rate of those appeals. After the Palace brawl in 2004, the definition of “on-court” was expanded to include areas like arena hallways (known as vomitories) and the locker room. But a distinction was made to specify violations committed “at, during, or in connection with” an NBA game. Since the Arenas-Crittenton incident occurred on a practice day, it is likely that an arbitrator will have to rule on whether he can hear the appeal before actually ruling on it.
Either way, all signs point to a whopping punishment coming from the commissioner’s office. All things considered, I would recommend that Mr. Arenas and Mr. Crittenton get hobbies.
Posted on: November 16, 2009 11:51 am
Edited on: November 16, 2009 1:05 pm
Stephen Jackson has been rescued from Golden State, and he's going from playing for one hard-to-please, curmudgeonly coach to another.
The Warriors obliged Jackson's trade request Monday, sending the disgruntled swingman to the Bobcats along with Acie Law for Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic. The deal resolves one of many complicated plotlines for the tumultuous Warriors, but leaves several others still unsettled.
Jackson was miserable with the Warriors, despite having been rewarded with a three-year, $28 million extension that kicks in next season. Jackson and Monta Ellis, who was even more richly appeased with a $66 million deal two summers ago, believe Warriors management failed to deliver on promises to add a veteran, playoff-caliber supporting cast this past offseason.
The arrangement with Charlotte put a crimp in the Cavaliers' plans to add more scoring punch to their lineup via Jackson; several members of the Cavs organization have a history with S-Jax and believe that could've tamed his wild side, a task that now falls to that noted lover of reclamation projects, Larry Brown. It also avoids what would've been a circus-like atmosphere Tuesday night, when the Warriors pay a visit to the Cavs.
UPDATE: The removal of Jackson lowers the volume on the circus music emanating from the Warriors for the time being. As CBSSports.com reported Friday, an alternative to an imminent Jackson trade that gained renewed traction last week was a scenario that would've seen coach Don Nelson step into a consultant role with lead assistant Keith Smart taking over the head coaching duties. Despite denials from team president Robert Rowell, who was scheduled to meet with Nelson after the team's current road trip to discuss the direction of the team, the rise of Smart to the first seat on the bench is an option that has been contemplated since last season. In fact, Smart already has been assured that he is Nelson's heir apparent, according to three people familiar with the situation.
One of the sources with knowledge of the team's plans to address the chaos generated by Nelson's rifts with Jackson and Ellis said Sunday that the possibility of accelerating Smart's takeover emerged as an agenda item around the middle of last week. Nelson, who has vowed to honor the two-year, $12 million extension he signed this past summer, was in full control of that scenario, added a source who said the timing of any handoff to Smart would be Nellie's call. Nelson, who is 20 victories away from becoming the NBA's all-time winningest coach, would still be honoring his contract even if he'd concluded that it was time for Smart to take over.
Concerns that airing Nelson's plans would hinder the team's efforts to trade Jackson are now moot. Thus, the coaching succession plan will likely return to the back burner. But one transfer of power will occur without delay: Ellis taking over Jackson's role as the team's disgruntled star.
UPDATE: Why does Charlotte do this trade? Beats me. Why does a Brown-coached team do any trade, besides for the fun of having to someday undo it? Here's one theory: Vlad-Rad's contract is much worse than Jackson's; at least with Jackson, you get a productive player for $10 million a year. The Warriors are now stuck with Radmanovic's $6.9 million next season, though Bell's $5.3 million comes off the books in '10-'11.
More importantly, where were the Cavs in all of this? All indications point to the fact that Jackson was Danny Ferry's for the taking, and he opted not to be a taker.
Posted on: November 13, 2009 3:53 pm
NEW YORK -- The Warriors apparently made it through their shootaround Friday without any shouting matches. This qualifies as progress for a team cloaked in controversy. Afterward, coach Don Nelson was unapologetic about his verbal confrontation with Monta Ellis, which took place at practice a day earlier.
"I disciplined a player in practice, and that’s part of my job description," Nelson told CBSSports.com after the shootaround in preparation for Friday night's game against the Knicks. "I've done it before and I’ll do it again, and that’s all I’ve got to say about it."
Nelson confirmed that it was Ellis, his $66 million guard, who received the brunt of the discipline. "Yes, it was Monta," he said. "But I'm not going to go into it. I disciplined the player, it’s over, and that’s all I have to say about it."
Asked if he and Ellis were OK going forward, Nelson said, "You need to talk to Monta about that. I’m OK."
Ellis wasn't available for comment after shootaround.
The Ellis situation, which boiled over in full view of the team's beat writers and ended with Nelson waving his hands in disgust and Ellis barking at him, is hardly the only issue consuming the Warriors. Anthony Randolph's undefined role, the awkward attempt to pair Ellis and rookie Stephen Curry in the backcourt, and of course, Stephen Jackson's request to be traded have shadowed the team's every misstep on the way to a 2-5 start.
Nelson said Friday there were no developments in the team's attempt to oblige Jackson's trade request. As Nellie recently noted, Jackson is the definition of difficult to trade because of the three years and $28 million left on his contract after this season. But while other teams -- Indiana with Jamaal Tinsley, the Knicks with Stephon Marbury, and the Sixers with Allen Iverson -- have sent troublesome players home while attempting to trade them, Nelson said that's not an option with Jackson.
"Jack is a good player, and even though he may not be able to perform up to what he did a year ago because he doesn’t want to be here, he can still be a positive factor and help us win some games," Nelson said.
Speaking after shootaround, Jackson said he's still on speaking terms with Nelson, but added, "It's not what it used to be." No surprise there, considering Jackson's agent, Mark Stevens, recently ripped Nelson publicly by questioning his trustworthiness.
"I think at this point, I come out here and respect him as a coach and do my job and leave it at that," Jackson said. "I think that’s the best thing for me right now. Just give him the respect he deserves as a coach and do my job. And then once I leave the gym, I'm on my own."
Posted on: October 13, 2009 8:56 am
Edited on: October 15, 2009 9:21 am
Upon a recent visit with a colleague who is involved in business dealings throughout the NBA, the subject of how a certain player on the Golden State Warriors was doing came up.
"Golden State," said my friend, shaking his head, "is a story in and of itself."
Indeed. And a pathetic story at that.
It's not just that the Warriors have suspended guard Stephen Jackson for two games due to conduct detrimental to the team. It's not that coach/emperor Don Nelson and GM Larry Riley sat down with Jackson Tuesday in an attempt to smooth things over. Everyone can see -- including Jackson -- that all they're up to is getting Jackson back on the court so they can trade him. Since that's what Jackson wants, he should be amenable.
UPDATE: Captain Jack relinquished his captaincy Tuesday, and he and Nelson came away from the meeting with very different demeanors. Nelson bordered on chipper afterward, while Jackson was described as bitter. Maybe that's because Jackson has realized that he might very well be stuck in Golden State. Nelson, perhaps, already is imagining himself luxuriating under a palm tree in Maui when this sad saga finally ends.
In a calm, matter-of-fact tone, Jackson eviscerates Nelson (he listens to him only because he's paid to), Kobe Bryant (he gets preferential treatment from the refs), and his teammates (who didn't come to his defense when he got ejected for complaining about the calls in the preseason game against the Lakers. Hang in there with this video ; it's worth your time.
But this story isn't about Jackson. He's merely the latest player who has been swallowed by the vortex of incompetent ownership and sad egotism, the combination of which have turned the Bay Area's NBA team -- one of the league's prime properties, by the way -- into such a joke that it makes Jim Dolan's regime in New York seem like a tranquil pool of efficiency by comparison.
This has been going on too long. The games Golden State management tried to play with Monta Ellis in the wake of his moped accident, the shameful treatment of Chris Mullin, and now the bungling of l'Affaire Jackson -- all of it is a steaming pile of obfuscation that is crying out for the nuclear option. If he hasn't already, David Stern should forcefully suggest that it's time for majority owner Chris Cohan to finally sell this franchise that has disintegrated on his watch.
But Cohan isn't the only problem, either. His problem is merely the only one that -- if solved -- would lead to the resolution of all the other problems. Namely, those problems are president Robert Rowell, Riley, and Nelson. Find me another NBA team with a triangle of stubbornness, petulance, and cluelessness that rivals this Warriors triumvirate and I'll send you a P.J. Carlesimo bobblehead doll.
Two members of this bungling trio were present at Las Vegas Summer League this past July. (And when it comes to Nellie, I should point out that he was present in the arena, not just the casino.) It was a sad commentary on what the Warriors have become: A disheveled Nelson sitting uncomfortably in the stands, a ball cap scrunched down on his unkempt coiffure. By his side at all times, like a pea-brained pug, was Riley -- whose ascent to the GM's chair came at the expense of Mullin and by the forceful hand of Nellie. One night, Nellie invited a couple of scribes out for dinner and cigars, a gesture he hoped would curry favor and mold the mushy contents of their skulls to Nellie's twisted brand of basketball management. One thing I have learned in this business: When a sports figure invites you to dinner for the sole purpose of showing you what a prince he is, he is up to no good.
The no-good has gone on in Golden State long enough.
Posted on: September 15, 2009 6:41 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2009 10:44 pm
Stephen Jackson's $25,000 fine for "public statements detrimental to the NBA" would be funny if it weren't so bogus in a fun police sort of way.
First, if $25,000 fines were assessed for all statements detrimental to the NBA, I'd be in trouble. Also, the world would be without poverty. All that fine money donated to good causes would be enough to feed everyone.
Second, I realize that technically players aren't allowed to publicly request trades. But really, what else would anyone write or talk about in the month leading up to the trade deadline if that rule were enforced in the strictest sense? The league's press release reminds us that Ron Artest was fined in 2005-06 for publicly requesting a trade. OK, that's one down and about 199 players to go.
I don't recall Kobe Bryant getting fined for his numerous public trade requests in the summer of 2007. (He wasn't.) Memory doesn't serve me on whether Allen Iverson was fined for demanding a trade in Philadelphia during the 2006-07 season. The league's thinking is that those players didn't directly, explicitly, and in so many words ask to be traded. But everyone knew what they were doing. (In Iverson's case, one theory is that he didn't go to the media with his trade demand; he went to the team and it leaked to the media. In Kobe's case, the official explanation for why he wasn't fined was that he recanted so quickly after making the trade demand.)
This is all kind of silly, anyway. Overall, I'm OK with the fine -- as long as we call this what it is. It seems to me that the NBA is fining Jackson so that coach Don Nelson doesn't have to. Nellie doesn't want to cross one of his best players, and this way, Jackson can be mad at the NBA and not his coach. Makes sense to me.
One more thing: I don't understand how publicly requesting to be traded is detrimental to the NBA. Isn't that part of what makes the NBA fun?
UPDATE: Upon further reflection, here's the other side of that argument: In the year leading up to the most recent collective bargaining agreement, which was ratified in 2005, whiny players making public trade demands had become somewhat of an epidemic. So the league warned the players' union that it was going to begin cracking down on such statements, arguing that they hurt the image of the league. A few selfish, bratty players were painting the entire league with that brush. Now, when Jackson's fine seems to come out of nowhere, maybe that's because the league has been successful in curbing the public sniping. Me? I still find it fun.
Posted on: December 30, 2008 11:36 am
"No, I don't want out," Davis told The Los Angeles Times Monday. "I don't know what Stephen Jackson got from my conversation. That never came out of my mouth. I'm here. I'm here doing the same thing I did at Golden State. The first year I got to Golden State it was rough. It was a tough season. We were figuring each other out, figuring out the system. That transition year is always a tough year."
Davis did acknowledge telling Jackson he misses playing with him.
"When you see people, you miss what you had," Davis said. "Obviously, in no way shape or form am I ready to jump ship. That's not why I came here. That's not why I committed to come here. I'm committed here to turn this thing around. I like the talent on this team, I like the promise. The team is going to get better. My job is to continue to get better and make this year as positive and productive as we possibly can."
So there you have it.
Whatever Baron said or didn't say to Captain Jack, I stand by my original reaction -- with a slight amendment. The Warriors are a mess. So are the Clippers.
Posted on: December 29, 2008 10:22 am
Edited on: December 29, 2008 11:20 pm
Now I've seen it all. According to the Contra Costa Times, Warriors swingman Stephen Jackson spent some time over the weekend with former teammate Baron Davis. And guess what? The Baron said "my bad" on opting out of his deal with the Warriors and signing a five-year, $65 million deal with the Clippers.
"He wants to come back," Jackson said. "And if he wants to come back, I want him back."
Things have gone south fast in L.A.; Davis has clashed with coach Mike Dunleavy and the Clips are 8-21.
I have a couple of thoughts: First, for Baron: When you opt out of your contract and sign with another team for a lot of money, you don't get to change your mind. And for Jackson: It might be time to stop playing fantasy G.M. If I could figure out who was in charge of the Warriors and making the decisions there, I'd be able to determine who was the most ticked off that Jackson seems to spend more time contemplating trades than trying to make the team better. What a mess in the Bay Area.
UPDATE: Matt Steinmetz has some insightful analysis of the situation here. His conclusion is what you might expect -- Baron isn't going back to the Bay Area -- but not for the reasons you might expect.
UPDATE: In the wake of Baron's comments to Jackson, Corey Maggette was asked before Monday night's game against Toronto if he wanted to do the Baron two-step and return to the Clippers. "Who me? No. I love it here, man," Maggette said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.