Don Nelson's job is safe

Leave a comment

NBA_nelson_250.jpgThe Warriors have won 16 games so far this season and are on pace to win about 22. Last season they won just 29. They are a terrible defensive team (28th in the league in points surrendered per possession). In virtually every other NBA town that would have the media asking for the coach’s head on a platter (in New York the media would have passed pitch forks and torches out to the assembled mob).

But Don “drinking with the players” Nelson’s job is safe.

“As far as we’re concerned, I’ve seen him in a lot of situations,” (Warriors General Manager Larry) Riley answered (a question about Nelson on a conference call with season ticket holders). “He has not lost the ability to coach or forgotten how to put teams together as far as strategy and using lineups and so forth.

“He’s going to get the record. But at the same time, if it wasn’t for that, I’d still like him as a coach. And I like the style of play that we use. And it’s important that we continue to go forward with that style of play, and he’s the guy to coach it.”

Of course Riley said that — Nelson won the power struggle and forced Chris Mullen out the door, Riley is one of Nelson’s guys. To be fair, Nelson can still coach — Sunday night Nelson helped his team beat a hot Hawks squad by going bigger along the front line in the second half, and benching Monta Ellis. Besides, kicking the guy out the door as he is close to becoming the NBA’s all-time winnngest coach would be cold.

But change has to be considered in the Bay Area, and if it is going to come, it’s not going to be from Riley. It will be from ownership, but with Chris Cohan in charge, Warriors fans better get used to the current regime.  Now if Larry Ellison ever buys the Warriors, things will get interesting. But until then, run-and-gun, defense be damned.  

Interviewer: LeBron James wasn’t dissing Kyrie Irving

AP Photo/Tony Dejak
Leave a comment

LeBron James on Isaiah Thomas, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“It’s been a while since I’ve had that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time,” James told B/R Mag.

That looked like a shot at Kyrie Irving. But with more context, it clearly wasn’t.

Beck:

It seems LeBron was saying it’s been a while that he’s had “that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time.” If he was slighting Kyrie Irving, LeBron was also slighting Dwyane Wade – and I doubt LeBron would do that.

LeBron and Kyrie probably aren’t above taking subtle shots at each other. But this seems like a case of Beck, after hearing LeBron’s words aloud and in context, not realizing how a trimmed version would read as text. It’s unfortunate that people initially got the wrong impression, but good on Beck for clearing it up.

Missouri: Potential No. 1 pick Michael Porter Jr. likely out for rest of season

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
3 Comments

Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. – maybe the top contender to supplant European guard Luka Doncic as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft – had his campaign undercut after it barely began.

Missouri Basketball:

Michael Porter, Jr. will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Dallas, Texas. The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3 and L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Michael is expected to make a complete recovery

With that timeline, it’s possible Porter returns late in Missouri’s NBA season. But as an elite draft prospect stuck in a cartel system that caps his compensation well below market value, he should probably be cautious.

Porter will likely still go high in the draft – if his medicals check out. This is is a serious injury, and teams will be wary off long-term effects.

But he’s a top talent, and the forward shouldn’t slip far. In fact, in a strange way, this injury could even help him. There were questions about Porter’s ability to handle physicality and tight spaces when the game slows down, challenges he would have met frequently in college basketball. Now, scouts can’t pick apart those aspects of his game. Logically or not, NBA teams tend to favor the unknown in the draft, and Porter is on his way to being one of the biggest mysteries near the top of the 2018 draft.

Kevin Durant reverses course: Playing Thunder ‘just a regular game for me now’

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
Leave a comment

Kevin Durant said last season playing the Thunder is “never going to be a regular game for me.”

Now, the Warriors star, who’s questionable for tomorrow’s game in Oklahoma City, is singing a different tune.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Durant:

Just a regular game for me now. I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the bulls— and just play. Just keep at basketball, and I’ll be alright.

Durant is entitled to change his mind, and maybe that’s all that happened.

But this strikes me as yet another chasm between how Durant actually feels and how he wishes he felt – all while facing immense public scrutiny.

Durant spent eight years in Oklahoma City. Many of his former teammates, including Russell Westbrook, are still there. Durant might want to move on, but how could there not be a different feeling when playing the Thunder, especially in Oklahoma City?

Tony Allen: Russell Westbrook flopped to draw DeMarcus Cousins

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Leave a comment

DeMarcus Cousins got ejected from the Pelicans’ win over the Thunder last night for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head.

Afterward, Tony Allen came to his New Orleans teammate’s defense.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Did Cousins elbow Westbrook in the head? Yes. Did Westbrook create and/or embellish the contact? I don’t know.

Westbrook stuck his head in close, and he might have been baiting Cousins into a foul. But that doesn’t give Cousins carte blanche to commit a foul.

And even if Westbrook were baiting Cousins, the elbow still might have hurt. Westbrook’s reaction could have been genuine.

Did Cousins’ reputation as a flagrant fouler influence Westbrook’s strategy and how officials perceived the play? It’s much easier to convince me of that.