The Golden State Warriors entered the 2008-2009 campaign with some major losses to their line-up.
The Warriors have lost Baron Davis, Matt Barnes, and Mikael Pietrus to the free agency realm this past summer. Oh, and you might have heard: Monta Ellis is probably out until January 2009. To assess this season’s slow start for the youngest team in the NBA, Dave Nemetz, Nuck Chorris, Yama Hazheer, Steve Resnick, and myself are participating in the first ever Bleacher Report Golden State Warriors Rountable. Here are our main focus questions:
- How do you feel about how Don Nelson has handled the young and inexperienced core? Even though the fans (including myself) call for more playing time for the youngsters, we don't expect a sub-par performance. But when they do hit us with a mediocre performance, we are confused. What are your thoughts on that?
- What is the best scenario for Al Harrington now with the Warriors? If you were in the shoes of Chris Mullin at the moment and had to trade Al, who would you trade for? What specific positions would you focus on?
Temporarily abandoning the "do what it takes to win" attitude to focus on team growth surprised me at first. It would seem the loss of Corey Maggette and the situation with Harrington put Nelson in experimental mode. Nelson knows that he will have to be creative with his rotations throughout the year. The absence of Monta Ellis, Al Harrington, and Maggette means more experimentation across the board, as we've seen with Nelson playing both tall and small in the same game. Nelson has done a good job of putting bench players in the right situations to develop more quickly. Nelson is watching Randolph, Wright and even Rob Kurz to see who can give Andris Biedrins some weak side defense without fouling, as uncontested layups and fouls seem to be a problem. By mid December, Nelson should have a refined Monta-less rotation that is more comfortable playing together.
The growing pains will probably make your eyes bleed for the next month, but there really is no better time than now. Better now than down the stretch when that extra chemistry is really going to matter in crunch time.
To tell you the truth I would take just about any $10 million contract, with the exception of Curry, to unload Harrington. I think the best thing the Warriors would be able to get for Harrington is a veteran comfortable coming off of the bench; as opposed to looking for another "very good player" to try and force into Nelson's rotation ahead of his already patient youth. As long as the contract acquired is gone, productive or negligible in the next two off seasons then everything should be fine. The last thing the Warriors need during their development is self important players in the locker room (Bye Bye Baron, Pietrus).
Harrington has continued to support his team, but in this case we can say that intentions speak louder than words, and Harrington is clearly disgruntled. Who will that contract be that sweeps Harrington out of here? I have no idea, but I'd like to stay away from Curry, Tinsley, and Andre Miller. I'll give Maggette a couple months to see if he can get his act together, but if not I wouldn't be opposed to packaging him and Harrington in a 2-3 team trade.
The Dallas Mavericks might let go of Josh Howard, but that may be WAY too much youth for Don Nelson to handle. The only back injury Harrington suffers from is the spot where Don Nelson's ego stabbed Harrington's ego in the back, not that Harrington didn't have it coming when he publicly put his minutes and his future contracts ahead of the team. Even when Al couldn't get it done on the floor. Harrington may be a good teammate on the court, but he is bad for the team.
Don Nelson has not handled the young and inexperienced core well, but is improving. He is a type of coach that will play his starters numerous minutes, which is why his teams usually don't do that well come playoff time. If Nellie played some of the youngsters such as Marco Belinelli and Brandan Wright more last season, they would be much better players today and could help out others like Anthony Randolph. Without Corey Maggette and Harrington, he hasn't had a choice but to play them more these past few games. Despite some of them having bad games, it gives them more experience which will be valuable, not only them, but the starters who will be rested and not heavily relied on as much.
Al Harrington is a type of player that needs to have the ball in his hands a lot if he wants to be consistent. One night we see this guy go for 20 points plus, then the next night he can't shoot to save his life. He is not the type of player the Warriors need at this point. What they need is a point guard. Let me fix that, a pass first point guard that knows how to play defense. That is exactly what the team needs right now. I have no clue who they should get for him though, which is a tough question to answer for now. But I certainly wouldn't want a guy with a huge long term contract because Monta Ellis will be the starter when he gets back, and the other guy will be coming off of the bench.
Nelson has started playing the younger guys like Anthony Randolph, Marco Belinelli, Brandan Wright, and Anthony Morrow. I think that Nelson needs to start setting it up as this point in the game no matter what the score is they're coming in. If they play well they'll be left out on the floor. If they keep making silly mistakes then they won't earn that time. This will be essential for the Warriors because Stephen Jackson can't play 44 minutes a game and be effective. Also, I think with Corey Maggette back it takes the scoring load off of Jackson because Maggette is a proven scorer in the league.
Right now Al Harrington is not playing. That doesn't bode well for him he just needs to play his game and let the Warriors do what they need to do. I believe he should be traded. Either to Indiana or Utah. For now he just needs to shut his mouth and play his best.
I'd give Nelson an incomplete so far. He's shown great strides by first benching Harrington for Wright, then starting to get Randolph and some of the other young guys involved. Morrow, obviously, was a huge revelation the other night. But there are still some question marks. Why, after playing pretty well and bringing some energy and hard-nosed defense in limited amounts DeMarcus Nelson is sent down to the D-League? Where has Bellinelli been (or is he just that bad)? Why the odd handling of Marcus Williams? And what the heck is Rob Kurz doing on this team? At least Nelson, for the most part, is getting a feel for who he has and starting to put together a rotation. Hopefully by the time Monta comes back, the Warriors will have a solid group that can be counted on and an opening for the Mississippi Bullet to slide right into.
I’ve always been a critic of Don Nelson’s method of abstaining from playing younger players. Well, this season Nelson is forced to play the young and fresh products because they constitute a large part of the Warriors’ squad. One player who certainly falls into that category and has inconsistencies with Nellie is Brandan Wright. With Al Harrington “out” and the power forward position out of sync, Nellie has experimented with numerous lineups that even include Wright, Andris Biedrins, and Anthony Randolph. However, Wright has not received the amount of playing minutes Nellie promised him. 20 minutes a game will not do it for a a 6’10’’ power forward that can block jump shots! He has been inserted in the lineup a few games this year, but it hasn’t been enough for the fans to see this raw player. Overall though, I think he has done a good job.
Well, the best scenario for Harrington right now is to be traded. He has publicly announced the he desires to leave the Bay Area. Going against a player’s desire of being traded will only hurt this franchise even more. The best trade scenario for Harrington right now will have to include 2 or 3 teams. That being said, the Warriors should seriously consider targeting Andrea Bargnani of the Toronto Raptors. This guy will be a Nellie favorite. Can anybody guess why? Well, he’s a shooting big man that is capable of hitting the trey and has a smooth jump shot.