The Other Side: Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors have been scrambling wildly like a beheaded turkey, ever since Baron Davis opted out of his contract and signed with the Los Angeles Clippers this summer.
That one move -- which San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami claims ruined two franchises - clearly caught the Warriors by surprise, because their subsequent moves have been filled with several headscratchers -- from signing Corey Maggette for $50 million, to signing Stephen Jackson to a contract extension, to its recent move to trade Al Harrington to New York for Jamal Crawford, which adds an extra $10 million in salary if Crawford does the expected and decides not to opt out of his contract next summer.
With the Warriors making their lone appearance at Verizon Center tonight -- one day after Eddie Jordan was fired -- the only question that matters in Washington is: How much different would this season have been if Gilbert Arenas had decided to leave town and accept the five-year, $100 million offer his former team made after Davis bounced?
Would Arenas play on one leg for his new team? Would the Warriors have been so desperate to sign Monta Ellis for $66 million, only to watch Ellis shred his ankle in a moped accident? Would Jordan still be the head coach if Ernie Grunfeld was forced to make a trade for a front line point guard who could play right now?
So much to ponder ... The Warriors are 5-8 and have lost two in row, including an 89-81 loss in Philadelphia that kicked off their current, five-game East Coast trip. But here are some other things you need to know about the Warriors:
1. Jamal Crawford Makes His Debut Tonight
Freed from the endless drama of New York, Crawford doesn't exactly escape the drama in Golden State (more on that later), he just leaves behind the media glare. In his ninth season, Crawford is the longest tenured player never to have reached the playoffs. He's been on some lousy Bulls teams, some terrible Knicks teams, and now he joins a crowded backcourt on a mediocre Warriors team. Anything you want to know about Crawford's feelings about the trade, you can find right here.
Whenever Monta Ellis returns from his severe ankle injury, the Warriors will likely have to push back to the bench Anthony Morrow, an undrafted rookie out of Georgia Tech, who set an NBA record by scoring 37 points in his first game against the Los Angeles Clippers. It was the highest scoring debut by any player who has come into the league since 1970. Think about that. You're talking Kareem, The Mailman, Michael Jordan and so on. But Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News made an interesting note the other day, reminding people that the legendary Wilt Chamberlain had 43 points and 28 rebounds in his debut with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959-60. Chamberlain also won rookie of the year and MVP.
2. Nellie Needs His Money
Don Nelson was the only coach Ernie Grunfeld had ever fired before yesterday. Washington Post columnist Mike Wise had a great recount of that firing in a story he wrote for the New York Times a few years ago. Nelson has made out pretty well since he left the Knicks in 1996. He lifted the Dallas Mavericks into prominence, then ended a 13-year playoff drought in his return to Warriors two years ago.
Nelson, the second-winningest coach in NBA history, signed a two-year contract extension before the season began. Now, he openly admits that he is coaching to pay for all of his stuff in Hawaii, where he keeps an offseason home. It's comments like that that infuriate his former employer, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who is stalling on the $7.1 million he owes Nelson in back pay.
3. The Warriors Front Office Is Bickering
Chris Mullin, the Warriors executive vice president of basketball operations, is in the last year of his deal with the organization and Golden State is already sending not so subtle messages that he won't be coming back.
The conflict began to bubble over this summer, when Mullin and Team President Robert Rowell clashed over how to handle Baron Davis. Mullin had an agreement with Davis, but Rowell vetoed it, setting in motion Davis's eventual departure and the Warriors' futile attempts to sign Gilbert. They also had problems trying to resolve the Ellis situation, with Rowell pushing ahead with a 30-game suspension because Ellis violated the terms of his contract. Mullin thought the punishment was too severe.
But the problems became obvious in the past two months, when Rowell was quick to sign Nelson to an extension and later fired Mullin's top assistant Pete D'Allesandro, replacing him with Nelson's right hand man, Larry Riley. Say this for the Warriors, they keep it interesting.
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