New Warriors owner may keep Don Nelson for a "test drive"


Thumbnail image for New Warriors Logo.jpgDon Nelson sits in Maui, collecting the $6 million he is owed, and waiting for a phone call from Warriors incoming owner Joe Lacob.

And more and more, it seems like that call may say, “Hey, come on back and coach the team a little longer.” That’s what the San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami is hearing.

The term I’ve heard: Lacob could give most of the significant Warriors employees a “test-drive” of some undetermined length, possibly at least through the end of 2010 and maybe into the 2011 off-season…

I’m not saying Lacob definitely is going to lay back on a GM/front-office re-structuring. I’m just saying that it’s possible, given Lacob’s current view of the goings-on at this late off-season juncture.

What appears to be the case is the long-standing alliance between Nelson and general manager Larry Riley will not be the major power structure anymore. Their fates will be decided separately.

If Lacob is going to be hands-on as it appears in player/personnel decisions, Riley may keep his job by being the guy who teams contact, who will listen to the offers, who can do the dirty work then consult with Lacob on a course of action. Somebody is going to have to fill that role, to bring a basketball background perspective to the GM role. (Warriors fans, pray that somebody does.) Riley may well get the chance to prove he can be that guy.

Nobody thinks Nelson is the long-term answer at coach. But there are two questions here. First, as Lacob will not get control of the team until just before or already into training camp, can he get somebody as coach at that point of the quality he wants. Second, is it worth buying out Nelson at $6 million plus shelling out several million more for a new coach to figure that out?

Nelson comes with much more baggage. The fan base can’t stand him. The players think he jerks them around. Keeping Nelson on board does not exactly help moral or show that it is time for a new direction. But unless Lacob has someone like Dwane Casey in his back pocket, making the last-minute change will be hard (and Dallas might not want to let an assistant coach walk on the eve of the season, there are a lot of complications).

So in Golden State, it may be meet the new boss, same as the old boss. At least for a while.

DeMarcus Cousins out for Kings vs. Warriors Saturday

DeMarcus Cousins, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams
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As if Golden State was not already a prohibitive favorite Saturday night.

DeMarcus Cousins, who has missed the last two games for Sacramento with a strained back and that will continue Saturday. Our old friend Bill Herenda tweeted it first.

Not only are the Kings 1-6 without Cousins, but they were also on their way to beating Charlotte Monday until Cousins had to leave the game.

Golden State will likely be without Harrison Barnes in this game after spraining his ankle in the last game. Expect Andre Iguodala to get the start, or if interim coach Luke Walton doesn’t want to mess with the bench rotation he could go with Brandon Rush.

Good news: Anthony Davis listed as probably vs. Utah Saturday

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Watching Anthony Davis fall to the court clutching his knee, not being able to put any pressure on his leg as he was helped to the locker room, it was frightening Friday night in Los Angeles.

It turns out it’s not that bad. After the game the injury was described as a “knee contusion” and not the serious damage that was feared. Saturday the Pelicans said Davis was good to go.

Whew. Nobody wants to see Davis miss time.

The Pelicans had won three in a row until they ran into the Clippers Friday night. Davis has played better of late — the New Orleans defense is 7.2 points per 100 better when he is on the court — and New Orleans has gotten better point guard play out of Ish Smith.

Stephen Curry abuses Sun’s Price with behind-the-back, pull-up three (VIDEO)

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That is just cruel.

An on-fire Warriors team dropped 44 on the Suns in the first quarter Saturday, and Curry had 19 of those points going 5-of-6 from three. The Suns’ had no defender who could begin to hang with him. Certainly not Ronnie Price, who came in off the bench and got abused for his efforts.

Curry finished with 41 points, never had to set foot on the court in the fourth quarter, and the Warriors improved to 17-0 on the season. Just another day at the office for them.

Philadelphia has dropped record 27 in a row dating back to last season

Brett Brown

We tend to think of record streaks having to be in one season, not broken up across two.

But if you can suspend that, the Philadelphia 76ers are now the owners of the longest losing streak in NBA — and major professional sports — history.

With their tough two-points loss to Houston Friday night, the Sixers have lost 27 in a row. The Sixers dropped their final 10 last season and with the loss to the Rockets are 0-17 to start this one.

That bests the 26-game losing streaks of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and these same Sixers from 2013-14. Looking across sports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-1977 also lost 26 in a row, which when you consider the length of the NFL season is pretty embarrassing.

The Sixers struggles are born from a plan by GM Sam Hinkie (and approved by ownership) to get better long-term by being bad now and hoarding draft picks. It’s a strategy that can work if Hinkie nails the draft picks (the book is out on how Hinkie is doing on that front). And they are committed to it through at least this draft.

But don’t think for a second the players and coach are trying to lose.

If you have watched the Sixers play their last few games you know the players are trying hard to get that victory (and almost have a couple of times). The effort is there, they are just outmatched and lack the kind of presence at the end of games to execute under pressure (something a couple of quality, regularly-playing veterans might help, but that’s another discussion). They have the point differential of a team that should have a couple wins; they just haven’t been fortunate. It happens. Go ahead and blame management if you think this plan is an abomination. Just don’t question the desire or effort of the players or coaches, that is not in doubt.

The Sixers play at the Grizzlies Sunday, then have maybe their best shot at a win for a while when they host the Lakers on Tuesday.