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?

Report: Derrick Rose away from Cavaliers, evaluating his future in basketball

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When Derrick Rose went AWOL from the Knicks last season for what he called a family issue, rumors swirled that he was contemplating retirement. Rose denied it, but those whispers are reemerging.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Rose has been out with what seemed like a relative minor, for him at least, ankle injury. The 29-year-old could stick in the league for a while thanks to his reputation and ability to attack the rim to create shots for himself. But the guard is a shell of peak form after years of more serious injuries. This isn’t the career anyone expected for him when he was named the youngest MVP ever in 2011.

Before the season, Rose was talking about getting a raise on his next contract. He seemed happy to join a contender and have LeBron James in his corner.

But something is amiss. Hopefully, Rose can find contentment – whether that’s continuing his NBA career or walking away.

Ryan McDonough: Suns want to sign two-way Mike James to standard contract

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Brandon Knight got hurt. Eric Bledsoe got traded.

The Suns made Mike James – a 27-year-old rookie on a two-way contract – their starting point guard.

Though he eventually ceded the role to Tyler Ulis, James – the only player on a two-way contract to start an NBA game – is still a rotation regular. He’s an aggressive defender and possesses plenty of offensive moves.

The problem: Unless demoted to Phoenix’s minor-league affiliate before then, he’ll max out the 45 allowable NBA days for a two-way player Dec. 6.

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, via Scott Bordow of azcentral:

We’d still like to get him on the 15-man roster and we’re looking at different ways to do that.

The Suns can unilaterally convert James’ two-contract into a standard one-year minimum deal. Both sides could also negotiate a longer contract.

The bigger issue is clearing a roster spot.

Phoenix has the maximum 15 players with standard contracts with no obvious cuts. Derrick Jones Jr. doesn’t play much, but the 20-year-old’s athleticism creates intriguing upside. Second-rounder Davon Reed is hurt, though teams rarely cut bait so quickly.

So, a trade is possible. Greg Monroe never seemed long for Phoenix. Or anyone else could be moved.

If it comes to it, the Suns could send James to the minors to bide time. But they want to play competitive basketball, and he helps. So, expect something else to give within the next couple weeks.

Joel Embiid upgrades himself from 69% to 81%: ‘Shoutout to Jalen Rose’

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A story in three parts:

1. After posting 46-15-7-7 in a win over the Lakers, frequently injured 76ers center Joe Embiid declared himself to be 69%:

2. ESPN analyst Jalen Rose called that joke “unprofessional:”

3. Embiid upgraded his status to 81% with a “shoutout to Jalen Rose:”

In case you didn’t get the joke.

Celtics’ Kyrie Irving: “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

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The Celtics established themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, a contender for the Eastern Conference title, during their 16-game win streak.

However, that hot streak to start the season will matter as much as Thanksgiving leftovers in the back of the refrigerator in April by the time the playoffs roll around. This is a team that still has work to do.

Which is what Kyrie Irving was getting at in this post-loss quote from Friday night, via Israel Gutierrez of ESPN.

“There’s still a lot to accomplish going forward,” Irving said. “It was a nice streak. But it was time to come to an end.”

This team still needs to get better and more consistent. The Celtics had to come from behind in the fourth quarter in eight of the 16 wins, and while the team defense was impressive the offense still can be hit and miss. Al Horford and Kyrie Irving play well off each other, but this is still the 20th ranked offense in the NBA. They are taking more long midrange jumpers than most coaches want, but the bigger challenge is they have not been finishing around the basket.

Titles are not won in November. Irving gets that. Jayson Tatum will hit the rookie wall at some point (they all do) and he needs to prove he can break through. Al Horford is playing maybe the best ball of his career and needs to keep it up. The Celtics need to keep their defensive focus (the fundamentals are there to have a top five defense). I could go on but you get the point, and so does Irving — there is a lot of work for this team to do.

Boston is off to a fantastic start, but it’s just that.