With Chris Cohan officially out as owner of the Warriors, Bay Area fans are elated he’s finally gone. Since they are so happy about the end of his unsuccessful tenure, the fans will have a bit of a honeymoon period with new owner Joe Lacob. While fans will give Lacob a year or two to turn things around, he and his ownership team have important decisions to make right now. The most pressing of those decisions is whether or not to retain Don Nelson for the final year of his contract, something the Warriors should not do.
Nelson is a legend in Golden State, and has done great things for that franchise in both of his tenures as head coach. He is one of the most brilliant offensive minds to ever grace the game of basketball, and the winningest coach in NBA history. While his resume is unparalleled in basketball, it is time for him and the Warriors to part ways.
The Warriors are a young team, and in the ultra-deep Western Conference, are not likely bound for the playoffs this year. For all that Nellie has done in Oakland, two things he hasn’t done particularly well are keep his players happy and develop young talent. Stephen Jackson, Mickael Pietrus and Al Harrington all left the Warriors on bad terms after becoming disgruntled with the way Nelson handled them. Monta Ellis has grumbled about the organization on more than one occasion, and Baron Davis also left on bad terms. For a team looking to enter a new era behind Ellis, Stephen Curry and David Lee, ownership can’t afford to have them sour on the team’s direction like so many previous stars have.
Also, with such a young team, Nelson’s track record developing young players is not great. Sure, Curry and Ellis are homegrown talents that have prospered under Nellie, but a lot of draft picks under him have not panned out. Anthony Randolph (now with the Knicks) and Brandan Wright have both been injured frequently and in Nellie’s doghouse when healthy. Neither has come close to realizing their potential, and with another similar player like Ekpe Udoh on board this year, having his growth stunted is not something new ownership wants.
Another reason the Warriors should part ways with their iconic head coach is because his future is certain. Nelson has said he will retire when his contract expires so next year the Warriors will need to find a coach anyway, why not just do it this year? The new ownership really likes assistant Keith Smart and he appears the heir apparent so the Warriors should just go ahead and make him head coach this year. It would allow him a chance to implement his agenda and his philosophy while also providing the team with a new voice that they seem to need. For the Warriors to truly begin a new era they need to replace the biggest remaining symbol of the old one, and let Don Nelson go.
What do you think?
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