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By JOSH DUBOW, AP Sports Writer 12 hours, 9 minutes ago
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Don Nelson plans to take a couple of months before deciding whether he will return for a third season as coach of the Golden State Warriors.
Speaking before the Warriors’ final game of the season Wednesday night, Nelson said he would go to Maui until the beginning of June and think about what he wants to do next season. Nelson said he expects to let the team know his decision by about July 1.
“I’m getting up to the point where it’s not an easy job,” the 67-year-old Nelson said, adding that he doesn’t see himself coaching past next season no matter what he chooses to do.
He wants to wait to make his decision until after his arbitration hearing with the Dallas Mavericks scheduled for late June. Nelson filed the claim against Dallas owner Mark Cuban to get $6.5 million of deferred compensation, which Nelson said he is owed for his time with the Mavericks from 1997-2005.
Last month, the Warriors exercised their $5.1 million option for the final year of Nelson’s contract. The two sides had re-negotiated Nelson’s contract in September to give him a raise in return for making the third year of his contract an option.
“I certainly won’t leave them hanging,” Nelson said.
Nelson led the Warriors to their first playoff berth since 1994 in his first season, leading an upset of the Mavericks in the first round before Golden State was eliminated by Utah. The Warriors did even better this regular season, but missed out on the playoffs in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
Golden State went 48-34 this season, finishing with the most wins by a team that missed the playoffs since the postseason expanded to 16 teams in 1984.
“I’d walk away feeling good about this year, feeling good about my two years here and feeling good about my career,” Nelson said. “It’s nice to be wanted and I think the organization would like to have me come back. I think most of the players in the other room would like me to come back, probably some wouldn’t. I’ve had a really good time here in two years and that’s a big factor in whether I return or not.”
Nelson is the second-winningest coach in NBA history with 1,280 wins, trailing only Lenny Wilkens (1,332) on the all-time list.
Nelson is one of many Warriors with an uncertain future. Star point guard Baron Davis can choose to opt out of the final year of his contract. Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins are restricted free agents, although team executive vice president Chris Mullin told reporters he will definitely match any offer to bring those two back.
Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus and Patrick O’Bryant are all unrestricted free agents, and Kelenna Azubuike can opt out of his contract.
The most intriguing decision revolves around Davis, who is owed about $17 million if he stays for the final year of his contract. He was benched in the second half of Monday’s loss at Phoenix that eliminated the Warriors for playoff contention.
Nelson has said it was because Davis did not play well in the first half. Davis said he was upset about not playing but that he had no rift with Nelson.
“I was upset that night but he did what he thought was best for the team,” Davis said. “Coach will do what he thinks is best for the team and I totally support him.”