Territorial Pissings

First things first: On Ballhype, Tom Ziller of Sactown Royalty and Fanhouse wrote a great rebuttal to Carter’s Friday post on PER. TZ's post is terrific, but the discussion in the comments is even better, so I’d advise anyone interested in stats to check it out. That is all.

This summer, I’ve avoided writing about the prospect of Don Nelson leaving the Warriors for several reasons, most notably that I've never believed owner Chris Cohan would be nearsighted enough to actually let it happen. Well, according to Geoff Lepper of the Contra Costa Times, the latest round of negotiations seems to have gone poorly and Nellie is returning to his home in Maui (via Fanhouse). There now appears to be a slight possibility that he won’t coach the team this season.

I can’t even begin to imagine the kind of karmic hellfire that will be visited upon Cohan if Nellie doesn’t come back. As Ziller wrote in the Fanhouse article on the same story (via’d up top), the fans will go apeshit if a deal doesn’t get done. Nellie is our shepherd, the man who brought us back to the playoff promised land. This team is on the rise, and you sure as hell don’t let the coach who helped you get there leave this late in the offseason.

The fans’ retribution, though, should pale in comparison to that of the players. As anyone who watched last year’s Dallas and Utah series knows, the Warriors have a lot of volatile personalities with histories of acting out on the roster. Baron Davis is a noted coach killer, Stephen Jackson can go off at any moment and has said he loves Nellie (“I don’t love no coach, but I love that man.”), and Monta Ellis might start openly weeping if the new coach makes him slow down at all. (At least Patrick O’Bryant would be happy!) I actually think the team would be decent with Keith Smart or Paul Silas running the show, but I’d feel a lot less comfortable about the team’s long-term prospects if one of them was thrown in right before training camp.

For those reasons and more, I still think Cohan’s eventually going to get something worked out. As the recent Foyle buyout and his willingness to sign players like Mike Dunleavy and Derek Fisher at above market-value have shown, Cohan is not cheap (whether or not he’s misguided is another story). If money’s the issue here, then I have to think the two parties will work something out.

Of course, if money were the only issue, the whole deal would probably be worked out by now. From this vantage, the whole argle bargle looks like a high-grade pissing contest, with one participant wanting an ultimately unnecessary extra few million for his troubles and another trying to reassert that he still writes the checks at the Oracle. (Note: For betting purposes, keep in mind that Nellie has the Bud Light Advantage.)

The good thing about pissing contests is that each participant eventually has to finish. Here’s hoping that Nellie and Cohan zip up soon and get back to the real business at hand: forcing out Sarunas Jasikevicius.


Trey Jones said...

An argument can be made that bringing Nellie back would be more vital than bringing Baron back.

Nellie is the only coach in the league that would play to the strengths of that roster. Not even D'Antoni would run and gun like that.

No Blood No Foul said...

Nellie is a poison pill -- a great coach in the short term, but a bad choice for the long term. First of all, he's old. How many more years will he work? One, two tops. Then what? Who's going to want to coach that team after Nellie let them do whatever they wanted for the last 3 years? His little contract shenanigans show he's a bad egg...better take the hit now. Baron is playing for an extension so he'll be good this next season (and maybe even healthy). Jackson follows Baron. What's the problem? Let Nellie go home and start over now.

Ty Keenan said...

NBNF: Are you the NBNF writer who wrote this article: (http://www.nobloodnofoul.com/2007/08/28/warriors-let-don-nelson-retire/)? It brings up some good points, for anyone who's interested. Also, are you a Mavs fan? I'm not asking that because of residual playoff hatred -- I think it matters to the argument.

If this brouhaha were all happening at the beginning of the summer, then I'd be more inclined to agree with you. At that point, you can work through any issues during the offseason. But we're only a few weeks from training camp now, so I think any issues would have far too much potential to blow up into something greater than what we can handle right now.

Yes, Nellie will probably leave in a year or two. However, I still think he can do a hell of a lot of good work in that year or two. As you say in that article, he's a great coach. Also, next summer has the potential to be a transitional time for the team anyway (Baron's contract's up, Biedrins wants an extension, Monta needs an extension, etc.), so I'd much rather have him leave at a time when we don't know exactly what the makeup of the team will be. You're right that at this point in his career he's better for the short term, but I don't think two or three years is a long term.

Think of it this way: if you are a Mavs fan (and if you're not, pretend for a second), would you rather have had Nellie for the time he was there or have had him throw you into the playoffs for a year and leave immediately? I imagine you'd want him for those other seasons -- the team got better during that time, to the point where they're near-championship level.

I agree that the team would still be fairly good last year, but no one on the market now is a match for Nellie. I want to get all I can out of the guy.