13 hours ago
Friday, October 31, 2008
NELLIE'S ACHILLIES HEEL
Today, the Warriors practically gave up on Marcus Williams by not picking up his option for next season - essentially making him an unrestricted free agent, good for no more than expiring contract. Because of Mullin's lame duck status and Don Nelson's public disdain for Williams, it's obvious that the decision to decline Williams' option for next season was predominately Nellie's doing. The Warriors essentially threw away a future 1st round draft pick or two 2nd round draft picks. Unless they could get something of use for him before the Feb. 2009 trade deadline, it's a complete waste.
What's odd about the months leading up to this big decision was that Marcus Williams did not get much playing time to be adequately evaluated on whether or not he could actually make it work with the Warriors in the long run. True, he did not look impressive early in training camp, but as reported by multiple sources and players, and Marcus Williams himself, he was starting to 'get it.' While C.J. Watson and DeMarcus Nelson got ample playing time (22.8 mpg and 21.8 mpg respectively) to get into the flow of the game and find their rhythm, Williams only received cameo appearances (13.5 mpg) and a couple of DNP's. Isn't the purpose of Preseason to find out where players stand in real game situations? It wasn't until the open practice on Oct. 26 that he was allowed to play extensive minutes, and by all accounts, he had his best game and showed that he could be a viable (and the possibly best) option at PG until Monta Ellis returns. Many thought so....except Nellie.
Nellie's Achilles Heel is his inability to work with players who don't meet his emotional intelligence quota. You have to have a soldier's mentality with a tough, aggressive, yet humble personality to stay on Nellie's good side. Even if someone has talent and lots of potential, he won't give you the time of day, particularly if you are SUPPOSED to be a very good player and don't live up to his expectations early on. He'll build up or rely on a clearly inferior player just to emphasize his disdain for that player. It's as if he needs to humiliate players to prove that it's his way or the highway - GET IT NOW AND I CAN'T WAIT ON YOU!!! This could and has ended up hurting the team in several instances, particularly when it comes to rotation depth, wasted free agent pickups, undermining traded values, under-utilization of assets, and a growing reputation among free agents and their representation as a place that might not be such a great destination.
If you're a proven talent that has emotional flaws and a less than ideal work ethic, you still have a chance with Nellie - if not ... "adios - no on-court development for you - we'll use you when we're good and ready." Problem is, as these players continue to sit on the bench, relationships get strained and rifts between coach and player could reach a point of no return. That's why it is important to have great assistant coaches and supporting staff to mitigate the damage and ideally, it is important that Nellie consider playing underutilized talent that needs nurturing and development more often (particularly when veterans need rest, when the team has a comfortable lead, match-ups allow, or they are facing a vastly inferior opponent.
Don Nelson keeps saying he'll play the young guys that matter to the Warrior's future (Wright, Belinelli, Randolph) but I'll believe it when I see it on a consistent basis. Perhaps it won't come until we are in full tank mode. But then again, it might not come at all if he's hell bent on breaking the wins record ASAP so he could go off and retire yet again.
You take the good with the bad and with Nelson, there is a lot more good than bad. He commands respect, has made the Warriors relevant, and is the only person that brings credibility to this bumbling franchise that is quickly reverting to the 'suck' of the past 14 years. Nelson's a wonderful teacher and his win-loss record speaks for itself. He may be too set in his ways to change, but if he wants to become an even better coach, he'll need to do some serious self-evaluation and be more attune to the damage that he could be doing to some players or to the future of the franchise. All it takes is more patience, trust, understanding, and an open mind geared towards a better future for all stakeholders. Not all players will have the ideal mentality that coach Nelson feels comfortable with, but it's his responsibility to extract the good, change the bad habits, and give it some time to work. Don't let an asset go to waste. At the very least, showcase the asset for trade purposes and try to get something of value in return.
Marcus Williams Mix by Patrys15
Practice Interviews - 10/20/08