The New York Post’s Peter Vecsey insists there’s a real possibility Golden State will pay Don Nelson $5.1 million next season to do anything but coach the Warriors.
That gloomy forecast is largely based on how downbeat last season ended. In the second half of the Warriors’ elimination-from-playoff-contention loss (next to last game) at Phoenix, Nelson benched Baron Davis – purportedly because his offense backfired (2-13) in the opening 24 minutes. He did not play in the second half, as if a franchise player never shot blanks only to rediscover his stroke of genius in the final 24.
The night before the game, Versace held a reception for Davis in Phoenix that was scheduled to last from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. It was not a party, underlines a Warriors official, yet it was referred to in that sense by the Arizona Republic the next day.
Numerous observers, me included, were convinced Nelson disciplined Davis for “partying” the night before such a big game after he was unable to find the range in the first half.
At the time, Nelson said Baron was “lethargic” so he went to his bench in the third quarter, and the Warriors outscored the Suns 38-19 in one of their best quarters of the season. Late in the fourth quarter when the game was tight, Nelson had to make a decision: “Do I continue to go with the players who got us back in the game in the third quarter or do I go back to the players who got us buried in the first half?”
Nelson decided to reward the group that got him back in the game. “Coaches are faced with those decisions all the time during the course of the season,” a team official remarked.
I understand. Yet the majority of them would have rewarded the player most responsible for propelling his team over the course of a full season when measured against fewer than two quarters.
Mike D’Antoni told the Daily News’ Frank Isola that Patrick Ewing might be considered for an assistant coaching role at MSG next fall, news that should cheer up the owners of several local businesses.