The wonderful happy news out of Oakland this morning, that Chris Cohan has finally decided to sell the Warriors, has barely had time to settle. When I first received the e-mail, I had to read it twice because I didn’t believe it. I had hoped that the rumors of a potential sale would transform into something real, but in the back of my mind I harbored a fear that Cohan would hold onto the Warriors interminably, like a Bay Area version of Donald Sterling. But the e-mail was real, the for sale sign is real, and the result is tangible.
Finally, there’s real hope for this team.
This is great news for the Bay Area and Warriors fans, but it’s also wonderful news for the NBA. Clouded by the past 16 seasons of putrid basketball (since Cohan took over the team in 1994, the Warriors have a record of 469-795 — a .371 winning percentage — and only one playoff appearance) is the fact that this team has a long history of success in the NBA. Some of the greatest players in the history of the game have played for the Warriors. They brought an NBA championship to Oakland in 1975. Through it all, the Warriors have retained one of the most intelligent and rabid fan bases in the NBA.
Those fans deserve a good Warriors team. The NBA needs a good Warriors team.
So, though I have no idea when this sale will happen (soon, please), or who the owner will be (Larry Ellison seems to be the guy, but I’m interested to see what other suitors present themselves), I believe there is one crucial question that must be answered before the new owner can settle on a plan to move this franchise forward.
Question: Do you retain Don Nelson as coach?
My answer: I hope not. I was talking about this with a friend and colleague the other day — a long-time Warriors fan — and his point was that even if Nelson is not the perfect coach for the team right now, the Warriors should keep him for the final year of his contract because it’s unlikely they would find a better coach to replace him. Considering the state of this team and the reputation of the front office, I agreed. Before this news broke this morning, I thought it a better option to keep Nelson around for one more season than sign a mediocre coach to a long-term contract. Let’s face it, under the Cohan management team, this team wouldn’t have been able to attract a better coach than Nelson. They would have had to overpay (in money and length of contract) for a mediocre (at best) coach.
Now that the team is for sale, it’s a completely different story. If Larry Ellison buys this team, suddenly there is interest and intrigue in this position. There’s a chance that the allure of new management and the potential to be part of an NBA resurgence in the Bay Area will be enough to lure a talented veteran coach (Jeff Van Gundy, George Karl — who has yet to sign an extension with Denver, or Nate McMillan — same story as Karl). Or the team could hire another team’s top assistant (the Celtics’ Tom Thibodeau, the Spurs’ Mike Budenholzer or the Rockets’ Elston Turner). The point is these kind of coaches are now possibilities for the Warriors. Under Cohan and Co., I don’t believe that was the case.
Here another link on the topic: