Nelson vows to stick it out with ‘difficult’ team
NEW YORK (AP) – Don Nelson planned to be retired now, not running what he calls “a very difficult team to coach so far.”
Seems it’s still getting harder.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Nelson stormed out of practice Thursday after a dispute with guard Monta Ellis, the latest headache for the NBA’s most dysfunctional team. Nelson, second on the NBA’s career list with more than 1,300 wins, could have avoided it all by simply walking away – which was his original thought.
“Actually the organization wanted me to do two more years,” he said Friday morning following the Warriors’ shootaround. “I was ready to retire after last season and so I signed on for two more years and I’m going to oblige my contract.”
The problems started long before the season did. Forward Stephen Jackson said he wanted to be traded, a request he made public over the summer. Ellis declared on the eve of training camp that the Warriors couldn’t win playing him and rookie Stephen Curry together in the backcourt.
And with a 2-5 record heading into their game against the Knicks, Ellis – who was unavailable for comment Friday – may be right. But Nelson expects improvement as the season goes along.
“The talent is young,” he said. “There definitely is enough young talent, but it needs to mature and get better and we’re willing to do that.”
The Warriors’ youth is the reason Jackson wants out.
“I was told this summer, coming into this season, I just thought we were going to have more of a veteran team,” he said. “That’s what my understanding was and it wasn’t that when the season started.”
Nelson suspended Jackson two games for leaving the bench during an exhibition contest, but reiterated Friday that he won’t tell the former team captain to stay away from the club, believing Jackson can help the Warriors win games.
“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,” Nelson said. “Not easy for him, but that’s what he’s going to have to work through.”
Jackson said they don’t communicate like they used to, but he has no issue with Nelson beyond the money he lost from the suspension and still respects his coach.
“I think at this point I come out here and respect him as a coach and do my job and leave it at that,” Jackson said. “I think that’s the best thing for me right now, to give him the respect he deserves as a coach and do my job and once I leave the gym, then I’m on my own.”