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: July 24, 2009 3:56 pm
As juicy as the court records of the dispute between Mark Cuban and Don Nelson are, there's got to be a better way to settle this. I propose something that would make millions for Cuban, which he could then agree to split with his former coach.
How about a Nellie vs. Cuban cage match on Cuban's HDNet?
The contest wouldn't last long, unless it was a drinking contest. One time when I spoke with Cuban about how he, then-Knicks president Isiah Thomas, and myself all had attended Indiana University, Cuban remarked that he was simply a "freshman alcoholic" when Isiah was in Bloomington. (Cuban later realized he had his dates wrong; he was a senior, I believe, when Isiah was a freshman.) Anyway, I confided that I'd had my fair share of fun at IU, but sadly had matriculated to a much less lucrative career than both he and Isiah.
I bet Cuban can still knock a few back, and we all know that Nellie only recently -- and begrudgingly -- gave up his customary beer during postgame media briefings. So I think this idea has some potential. The potential to be entertaining and also to save both sides any more legal costs.
The most interesting part of the transcripts recently made public in the dispute over $7 million in back pay Nelson claims Cuban owes him is a passage in which Nelson claims Cuban cut him out of personnel decisions. Cuban allegedly did this in retaliation for Nellie's decision not to play an injured Dirk Nowitzki in Game 6 of the 2003 Western Conference finals. I'm not taking sides because A) I have no idea who's right, and B) I hope Cuban and Nellie continue to give people like me material to write about for as long as possible. But freezing someone out of front-office decisions? That sounds eerily like what happened to Chris Mullin in Golden State. Karma travels on a boomerang in the NBA.
To wit: If Cuban and Nellie settle out of court and take their dispute to the pay-per-view airwaves, this blog post will be cited as evidence that I deserve a cut of the proceeds. Unfortunately, those transcripts will be a lot less interesting.
Posted on: June 18, 2009 12:25 pm
Warriors coach Don Nelson and GM Larry Riley flew to Memphis recently for a damage-control meeting with Monta Ellis. The message? Golden State isn’t looking to trade Ellis, whom they signed to a six-year, $66 million extension last summer. Instead, they wanted to tell Ellis in person that they intend to make him a captain and build around him.
It was a tumultuous year for Ellis and the Warriors, who threatened to void Ellis’ contract over an offseason moped accident that resulted in a 30-game suspension costing Ellis about $3 million. In April, Golden State officials sent a letter to Ellis’ agent, Jeff Fried, relinquishing their rights to void the contract. That ended one controversy but left another one still brewing.
Ellis’ strongest supporter in the Golden State front office was former GM Chris Mullin, who has been told he is not wanted back after his contract expires June 30. Mullin has avoided official contact with any potential suitors until the contract expires. But Ellis’ concern about his standing with the franchise in Mullin’s absence needed to be addressed. So Nelson and Riley flew to Memphis, where Ellis has been with his first son – Monta Jr. – who was born June 5.
“The GM and the coach traveled to Memphis to further provide that assurance to Monta that this is his team and they’re looking to build this team around him for years to come,” Fried said in a phone interview Friday. “Monta’s response to them was that the most important component is winning. He wants to win and he wants to win with the Warriors.”
Golden State has the seventh pick in next Thursday’s draft and is deeply involved in trade talks involving the pick. But those talks, evidently, will not involve Ellis.
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 20, 2008 7:49 pm
After a 115-99 loss to the Hawks Friday night, Warriors coach Don Nelson volunteered an obscure piece of information that has far more significance than most people realize. Acknowledging that coaching defense and being tough on players are weaknesses of his, Nelson announced that assistant coach Keith Smart was being elevated to a defensive coordinator role, and that Sidney Moncrief would be Smart's top assistant.
We've mentioned previously here that Nelson, 68, got a two-year extension in October but might not finish the contract on the bench. A person familiar with the Warriors' plans -- and those are few and far between, as it appears the Warriors have no plan -- told me that one option under consideration is Nelson moving upstairs to a full-time GM role at some point. Smart and Moncrief would be the favorites to succeed him on the bench.
Where does that leave Chris Mullin, you ask? Exactly where he is at the moment: With a contract that expires June 30 and little reason to expect he'll get a new one.
Nellie's announcement Friday night in Atlanta, thus, makes perfect sense. It's another step in the direction of Nellie handing the coaching reins to Smart or Moncrief. My prediction: When Nellie goes upstairs, Smart will be the head coach and Moncrief his lead assistant.
Posted on: December 18, 2008 6:20 pm
This from a person with direct knowledge of the team's thinking: Golden State would not trade a 6-10 forward with huge upside for a point guard. And it doesn't matter whether the 6-10 forward's name is Anthony Randolph or Brandan Wright. The Warriors "wouldn't even consider that in any way, shape or form," the person said.
The thinking is this: The Warriors just made a trade for a combo guard (Jamal Crawford), and if they're trading anybody, it would be an established veteran whose upside is known. Randolph and Wright both have played sporadically, and the Warriors need to see what they are -- especially Randolph, who is only 19.
Once Monta Ellis comes back from an offseason ankle injury, the team's strategy is to see who fits with Ellis rather than start trading for other players -- especially another guard -- and see if Ellis fits with them.
The one caveat when it comes to the Warriors is that nobody is clear on who is making the decisions. Team president Robert Rowell has taken on more personnel authority, and coach Don Nelson has been known to engage in a trade discussion or two. And remember who coaches the Charlotte Bobcats? Larry Brown, who got fired by the Knicks, in part, for agreeing to trades behind team president Isiah Thomas' back.
It is a tangled web being woven in the Bay area, but for now, Felton doesn't appear likely to be ensnared in it.
Posted on: December 17, 2008 11:57 am
* Finally, the Rockets showed how dangerous they can be if everyone is healthy. Yao was unstoppable, Tracy McGrady had his fourth career triple-double, and Ron Artest played a crucial role coming off the bench in a 108-96 victory over Denver.
* Those who took issue with my accolades for Derrick Rose will delight in the fact that D.J. Augustin (29 points, 7 assists) outdueled the Bulls' No. 1 pick (7 points, 6 assists) in the Charlotte Bobcats' 110-101 overtime victory over the Bulls.
* I was standing outside the visiting locker room in Philadelphia last Wednesday night when the 76ers' medical staff, led by team doctor Jack McPhilemy, ventured inside to examine Zydrunas Ilgauskas' foot and X-rays thereof. Little did I know how stunned the doctors were when they viewed the X-rays. Bob Finnan of the News-Herald explains. (Link courtesy of TrueHoop.)
* Interesting decision for the Warriors when Monta Ellis comes off the suspended list Friday. Who gets waived or traded to clear a roster spot? Even though Ellis won't be ready to play until sometime in '09, Golden State needs to make room on the roster. Matt Steinmetz makes a solid case that the decision will provide insight into how much GM Chris Mullin's power has diminished. Mullin is believed to want Marcus Williams to stay, but coach -- and perhaps soon-to-be-GM Don Nelson -- wants to keep Rob Kurz. If Kurz stays and Williams goes, you'll have your answer.
Tags: Charlotte Bobcats, Chauncey Billups, Chicago Bulls, Chris Mullin, Chris Paul, Cleveland Cavaliers, D.J. Augustin, Dallas Mavericks, Derrick Rose, Don Nelson, Donnie Walsh, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Mark Cuban, Memphis Grizzlies, Mike D'Antoni, Monta Ellis, New Orleans Hornets, Ron Artest, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Zydrunas Ilgauskas