Often, when a team goes on the road, it’s a chance for players to band together, for a team to develop some chemistry. But for a dysfunctional squad like the Warriors, the lonely road has only served to intensify the team’s discord.
Yesterday, Monta Ellis blew up at coach Don Nelson during practice. Don Nelson, according to this report in the San Francisco Chronicle, responded by storming out of practice. We don’t really need to recount the Stephen Jackson circus, do we?
The Warriors are a complete mess, definitely the most dysfunctional team in the NBA right now. Golden State plays the Knicks tonight, and New York used to be the crazy cousin in the NBA. Now the people who used to laugh at the Knicks have turned and started heckling the Warriors.
You almost wonder if Nelson should have kept walking after he stormed out of practice yesterday.
On Friday morning, Nelson told the Associated Press he was ready to retire last season, but was convinced by Warriors management to stick around for two more seasons. Now he says he’s going to honor that contract, even though this Warriors team has been “a very difficult team to coach so far.”
Understatement of the year, coach.
The Warriors are 2-5 and staring down another possible loss tonight at Madison Square Garden. I know the Knicks are 1-8, but with the turmoil surrounding the Warriors right now, I think you have to give New York the advantage.
After tonight, the schedule is brutal. The next 12 games look like this: at Milwaukee (4-2), at Cleveland (6-3), at Boston (8-1), vs. Portland (6-3), at Dallas (5-3), at San Antonio (4-3), vs. L.A. Lakers (7-1), vs. Indiana (3-3), at Denver (6-3), vs. Houston (5-3), vs. Orlando (6-3), at Oklahoma City (4-4). Try picking a game from that list you expect the Warriors to win. I’ll tell you, it’s a tough assignment.
Could the Warriors really be looking at a 2-18 record after this stretch? Yikes.
Nelson told the Associated Press he expects the team to get better. “The talent is young. There definitely is enough young talet, but it needs to mature and get better and we’re willing to do that.”
Golden State does have a lot of talented young players. Anthony Randolph (20 years old) is playing very well lately; Stephen Curry (21) has a world of potential; Anthony Morrow (24) owns arguably the prettiest (and most accurate) jumper in the NBA; and Andris Biedrins (23) is a great center when healthy. It would probably be fair to mention the injured Brandan Wright (22) and even small forward Kelenna Azubuike (25). If you want to throw Ellis (24) in there, feel free.
That young talent can’t develop the way it needs to until Jackson is granted his wish and shipped out of town. Right now, his presence hangs like a dark cloud over the entire organization. He wants out, his teammates want him gone, and reportedly the Warriors are doing everything they can to accommodate his trade request. Will they be able to find a trade partner? Does any team even want him? The Warriors might have to wait until December 15 when the players who signed contracts during the off-season become eligible to trade. Theoretically, that will open up more possibilities.
Nelson also told the Associated Press he expects better from Jackson, who has been inconsistent in his performance and his attitude this season.
“I think it’s hard for him because when you don’t want to be somewhere it’s hard, but yet when you’re a good enough player, I think he can help us and be a factor. Not easy for him, but that’s what he’s going to have to work through.”
Warriors (2-5) at New York Knicks (1-8)
4:30 p.m., CSN Bay Area
Here’s a statistical analysis of the two teams.