Kawakami: Tension around the corner
By Tim Kawakami
Mercury News Staff Columnist
Article Launched: 02/17/2008 01:44:06 AM PST
I didn't get it at first: Why are Don Nelson and Chris Mullin acting so fretful and harried while their team plays so credibly?
Why did they fall for the Chris Webber fantasy? Why won't they play Brandan Wright? What's making them so cranky after such a nice 32-20 pre-All-Star-break run?
Are Nelson and Mullin being logical, darkly cynical, unrealistic or just silly?
Then, just a little while ago, it dawned on me: Their edgy behavior isn't so much about this season. Not really.
Things are working well this season, and I can't believe I'm the one who keeps saying it. Even in the loaded Western Conference, the Warriors are playoff-caliber, have proven playoff performers, might fly over the 50-victory mark and have a mental edge over two or three of their possible rivals.
They're small, but they play at a tremendous pace and have some good middle-aged players, good young players, one terrible old player and a very good old coach.
So there is tension, but it's not really about the playoff race or the Houston Rockets' upcoming schedule or trading for somebody's spare power forward.
For different reasons, Nelson and Mullin already are bracing for next season, for the big decisions next summer that will shape the franchise and will define the relationship between Nelson and Mullin.
Obviously, Nelson and Mullin are dealing with this season, too. Nelson's an antsy 67 and has never been to the NBA's final
round, Mullin's perpetually antsy, and they both want to win as much and as soon as possible.
But this team isn't going to win the title. And this team was constructed basically to be a bridge from last season's playoff exhilaration to the future.
Starting with next season . . .
First off, it's not clear if Nelson will be the coach next season, and that has to be on his mind. I think Nelson wants to keep coaching and I know he wants the $5.1 million he would earn if the Warriors bring him back.
Remember, Nelson already made his big move last summer, when he used blunt-force negotiation to increase his base salary for this year and next, but he lost his guarantee for next year.
So, to get next year's $5.1 million, Nelson needs to show the Warriors he's still essential to the growth of this team.
The possible result: Nelson spent the past few weeks poor-mouthing this team's playoff chances and made the calculated decision that Wright wasn't ready to contribute.
If the team rallies and makes the playoffs, Nelson's a genius and will be brought back by acclamation. If the team doesn't make the playoffs, he can argue that everything will be fine once Wright develops under his tutelage. Next season, of course.
Second, Mullin has a lot to deal with this summer beyond Nelson. Baron Davis can opt out of his contract, Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins will be restricted free agents, and Matt Barnes and several others will be unrestricted free agents.
The result, leading to the Thursday trade deadline: Mullin's sort of stuck - he can't trade for an expensive player without eating into the money earmarked for Ellis and Biedrins, yet he doesn't want to pass on a deal that could make the Warriors better.
Ron Artest? I don't think so. Chris Wilcox? Too expensive for future plans. Mike Miller? Doesn't help much.
Nelson and Mullin ran through those options a few weeks ago, and that's what led them to Webber. He was available for nothing, and they imagined he could help. He can't, but again, he doesn't cost them anything except embarrassment.
Remember, Mullin already made his big move on draft night, when he traded Jason Richardson for the rights to Wright.
Result: The Warriors got the athletic big man they have sought for years (since Webber!), and their long-term salary commitment was sliced by tens of millions for the future.
Even if Wright isn't an impact player eventually, how smart does this move look now that Ellis' development has accelerated to unexpected heights?
If he keeps playing like this, Ellis will be worth upward of $50 million this summer, and the Warriors will give it to him in a flash. So, yes, it helps to have that extra $10 million slot handy.
Ah, but how will Davis react to a huge new deal for his younger, faster backcourt mate? We'll leave that one to . . . you guessed it . . . next year.
So next year's about Ellis, Biedrins and Wright and the fun they could have together over the next decade or so, jousting with Portland and Utah and the Lakers.
This year's about the Warriors trying to get as far as they can with Nelson, Davis, Webber, Stephen Jackson and the rest. But it's also about getting organized for next year, and about the tensions and frustrations that occur naturally when the main decision-makers have tough decisions to make.
Im not really liking thinking like this................talk about pure negativity...........damn, sounds like one of dareedle's posts (although he seems to be getting better lately).
Although, some of this is probably the reality of these situations, ie: Webber and Nellie's longevity and what we do afterwards.............I wish I hadnt read this.
What do you guys think?
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9 posts • Page 1 of 1
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2008 7:03 pm
Poster Credit: 1
It was a slightly pessimistic article
but Those statements were positive...
Its not 100% guaranteed that Nellie will return as Head coach in 09
I dont care if Webber is on the team in 09
Monta and Andris are free agents
Baron has the Option to OPT out
Monta and Andris are free agents and are the 2 most important players on our team, Monta and Andris are PRIORITY #1 in my opinion
I think Nellie will Return in 09
Mullin Will ReSign Monta and Andris
Baron Wont Opt Out
Brandon Wright will Emerge
Last edited by KC on Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2008 1:09 pm
Location: surviving in your world
Poster Credit: 3
i have only read a few of kawakami's rants....however you dont need to be a rocket scientist to figure him out bigstrads thinks he sounds like dareedles well i think he is more like MP this dude is way to full of himself he writes as if he knows everything when the truth is some of his speculation is foolishness. How does he know jack about what nellie and mullin are trying to do....he comes off as saying that nelson doesnt want to win now at the chance of losing now and not being back next year?
he may have a point about webber but i will still give webber a few / couple more games.
kawakami should write for the national inquirer as he is more of a sh1t stirrer than anything else. a stinking headline writer with little substance
I had the meaning but missed the experience.
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 11:06 am
Location: East Bay
Poster Credit: 5
i wouldnt say he's too far off, i mean, read it again. you dont want to mortgage your future or jepordize it by trading for some salary name guy. andris and monta really are the future of the warriors as well as brandan wright, we're in a good, competitive position for years to come, mullin as nelson dont want to f*ck that up!
im not saying the warriors are going to make the playoffs every year but i think they will be right there for many years now that the ship was righted.
"Losing is inevitably close to winning," Guber said. "They're inches apart. Drama. If you have drama, you've got a ticket to sell." "They're not real fans," Lacob said. "They don't have season tickets."
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