I’m going to miss a mostly Curryless Russia-USA game due to a marauding wisdom tooth. It’s rearing its ugly cap en route to punching my face in slow motion. Impressively, the tooth has survived in secrecy longer than Stephen Curry has existed. It will be ripped from my jaw, coated in dripping dark blood. Perhaps the tooth will be laced with that rancid sulphuric plaque stench-my deviant brain can only imagine what odors lie beneath. The experience will be unpleasant, but the longer it stays, the worse my mouth’s trajectory. Wait in denial, and expect crocodile features, that morph into creatures worse than wrong. So it’s an extraction worth celebrating, especially since the little bastard’s cutting my inner cheek like Carl Landry sent it on a mission.

And in that spirit, it’s time to move on from Don Nelson. This isn’t an angle coming from an armchair GM–it’s the visceral howl of a fan. The rigor of another listless, defenseless season feels unbearable, even in September. I could build my case logically, through methodical citations of cartoonishly absurd lineup decisions–I can’t erase the memory of Mikki Moore and Vlad Rad tag-teaming the center position–but why bother? Nellie has his admirers, or as I’d call them, “holdouts.” And if they’re unswayed by now, if they believe that one more year of Nelson will help this young team, I’m not changing minds so impervious to observation. In fact, enjoy that opinion. Hug it till it warms your chest in the wake of another 129-118 defeat. Worship of coach adds a religious comfort to life that I lack.

But sentient Warriors fans have lost that inclination to worship, and there’s another avenue to comfort. I’m aware that Don Nelson is owed six million dollars of sunk cost, but it’s money well sunken if Nellie’s sent back to Hawaii. A Don departure conveys a new direction, tells fans that Lacob is serious in ways that Cohan couldn’t be booed into. The old ownership would never pay two coaches at once, and they’d probably get hoodwinked into another Don deal on the wings of a highly amazing two-game winning streak.

So, a coaching “change” would be an extraction worth celebrating. Such a shift would ironically end a career that is worthy of celebration. He’s a basketball giant, blessed with a unique urge to challenge conventional wisdom. He’s often been a pioneer, but I fear his career has veered to a taste-tester phase: Don Nelson tries everything and more discerning coaches learn to avoid what kills Warriors teams.

Many sportswriting observers mock his listless stares, and frequent inability to rise from the bench. My central complaint: Nelson’s best players often spend equal time glued to the pine. The second problem is amplified by the first. Fans can better absorb questionable coaching decisions if the man in charge appears charged. Those who care can’t stomach insipid play flavored with a vacant stare. No wonder the Bay can’t get enough of Mike Singletary’s impassioned mania.

New ownership has decisions on the docket, but many can’t be addressed till full run is granted . When Lacob has authority to decide, he shouldn’t foot drag on an easy choice.That would only further stretch the chasm between fans and team. If Don Nelson has no future here, then what’s the point of clinging to the past? Such an aimless procrastination would set the tone for another era spent in mediocrity’s quicksand. If Nellie lacks energy, recent victories, glowing reviews, and another contract, then what’s he doing here? And what are we doing watching this team?

Twitter: @SherwoodStrauss

4 Responses

  1. geraldmcgrew

    Wrong as usual.

    Nellie is one of the greatest coaches ever and propably THE most entertaining coach ever. The real question for not just the Warriors but basketball as a whole should be: who will pick up the torch of coaching inovation and the ability to get more from teams than the sum of their parts once Nellie finally retires or is basically forced to do so.

    If this year’s team is healthy, no other coach has more ability to get the most from the Curry-Lee combo.

    Remember, the top teams in the league are actually quite boring right now (though Miami has the potential to change that). That doesn’t mean it’s better to be a bottom team (of course not!), but game 7 of the finals this year was TRULY HORRIBLE basketball. We should all be waiting for the day a team wins the title with an exciting style – which, if memory serves, hasn’t happened since the last title won by Magic’s Lakers.

    • geraldmcgrew

      BTW: “wrong as usual” refers not to the author of this post so much as the general attitude toward Nelson throughout most of the blogosphere.

  2. Jet Set Dave

    No offense, but “extracting” Nellie now is a horrible idea. Let me list the reasons why:

    1) There’s no doubt this will be Nellie’s last year. We all agree on that. The organization is change. You build an organization from the top down, and the coach is not the top. Now like many, I have been impressed with Riley, but that doesn’t mean he’s the man to be in charge as the team moves forward. Lacob deserves the chance to see folks do their job once ownership change is complete, and make decisions on the top of the pyramid first.

    2) What real coach wants to take over a team as training camp begins, and not knowing who is boss will be to boot? You’re already limiting your candidates. It basically limits your options to the assistants. That’s no real coaching search. If you want to see what these guys can do, then agree that Nellie will look for opportunities to give them games to work, and get tossed from a few too. There are worse things that can happen than to say to the refs, it’s not the same Warriors anymore.

    3) Is it fair to the players to hit them with a new system right at camp? Hell no! This is something that should transitioned all summer long.

    4) He has been the only coach that has done anything for this team in the last 30 years. For the last two he has dealt with no ownership support and a completely injured decimated roster and kids. The best thing for this team to do would be to pump Nellie for the HOF, give him a chance to go out on a high note. Why shouldn’t he have been somewhat frustrated that he had Mikki Moore and Vlad in the first place. Yet, he had the team balling down the stretch. He deserves the opportunity.

    4) Realistically he’s getting 6 million. The new ownership is going to borrow, looking for new investors. The reality is Nellie is still a component game coach. I think it would be fair to insist he get the team more focused on defense.

    5) It is also the first time he has a PG that he sort of trusts since Baron. When he’s had that, his team excels. Baron, Jason, Timmy, and all the way back to Milwaukee. He fought for Nash to stay in Dallas too. He will let Curry run the team. The last thing he needs is some coach tightening the reigns right now.

    I say let this play out. Let Riley do his gig and then decide who is the GM. Once that is made clear, that person should be hiring the next coach.

    There’s no reason to rush with the all time wins leader staffing the bench.