“If (Knicks PG) Chris Duhon continues to play the way he did and has been playing,” grumbles Knicks Blog’s Chris Alvino after last night’s 121-107 loss to Golden State, “this might be a 20 win team this year.” 20 seems optimistic , as the 1-9 Knickerbockers might be fortunate to win half that many during a season in which Mike D’Antoni’s charges seem to have totally bought into management’s agenda for the future. Why bother playing defense until LeBron arrives?
That said, D’Antoni’s job security isn’t being question this morning, but rather, Warriors counterpart Don Nelson, who didn’t survive a pissing match with Chris Webber during a prior tenure, and might not last after his relationship with Steven Jackson has fallen apart, either. CBS Sports’ Ken Berger claims Nellie’s “insistence on alienating and humiliating his best players — which continued at Madison Square Garden even in victory — could soon lead to a coaching change.”
With no realistic trade scenarios emerging for Stephen Jackson — and with the team’s other miserable star, Monta Ellis (above), wanting out, too — Nelson’s last option to keep the team from blowing up already is under consideration. Nelson, 69, would assume a consultant role, with top assistant Keith Smart taking over as head coach.
“It could happen by next week,” the source said.
When confronted about the possibility of stepping aside only eight games into a two-year, $12 million extension, Nelson crafted a bullet-proof answer. He insisted he has no intentions of going anywhere other than the Bradley Center, where the Warriors play the second half of a back-to-back Saturday night. Thanks to Nellie, they’ll do so with their two stars, Jackson and Ellis, coming off inexplicable 47- and 45-minute performances, respectively, against the Knicks. “Oh, I have the patience, yes,” Nelson said when I asked if he had the staying power to continue coaching/imploding this team. “The team wanted me to come back for two more years. I signed that contract and I will abide by that.”
But nowhere does it say that Nelson has to fill out lineup cards or draw up plays to fulfill that contract. It was sad, pathetic really, that this brilliant basketball man’s idea of coaching Friday night was leaving the disgruntled Jackson on the floor for all but 35 seconds of a blowout. For good measure, he also embarrassed No. 7 overall pick Curry in the very building where he’d hoped to spend his NBA career. If Curry thought he might face some dysfunction if the Knicks had picked him at No. 8, these few months with Nelson have been quite the education.