Don Nelson actually wants to return as Golden State Warriors coach

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NBA_nelson_250.jpgIt has just been assumed that this was Don Nelson’s last season — he’s the NBA’s all-time winningest coach but has seemed to have lost the passion for the job. He drinks with players. He has alienated key players (Monta Ellis) and woefully misused others (Brandan Wright, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Morrow, to name a few).

Plus, this Warriors team is bad. It will have 25 wins. The team has been bad for several season — all with a Don Nelson picked power structure makeing the calls. It’s all on him. Time to retire to Maui for Nelson. (Which frankly sounds pretty good.)

But before last night’s game Don Nelson said he wants to come back and coach this team next season. General Manager Larry Riley said there are no plans to fire Nelson. (Thanks to the Mercury News)

In my mind, no. I mean, it would take something that would be uncharacteristic or an oddity.

He’s done a really good embracing this bunch, particularly down the stretch. And I’m convinced that his health is back to where it’s no longer an issue. In fact he looks as good to me as he’s looked in a good while.

Nelson small-ball style has worked better the second half of the season, coincidentally timed with the rise of Stephen Curry and the finding of some quality D-LEague players to fill out the roster. Well, not so coincidentally. Still, with no inside presence to speak of, this Warriors roster was not going to win a lot of games even if Red Auerbach rose from the dead to coach them.

But this is still on Nelson — it was his cronies that shaped this roster. It’s poetic justice he has to coach it. But coach it he shall, because his cronies are not about to fire Nelson.

One little catch in this — owner Chris Cohan is selling the team. A new owner (hello Larry Ellison) likely will come in and clean out the front office, putting his own general manager in charge. And a new general manager will want his own coach. Nelson’s power base will be gone. He will be gone.

If that happens, Nelson falls back to Plan B — Maui. Did we mention that doesn’t sound so bad?

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?