Nelson, Harrington wage war of words
By Geoff Lepper
OAKLAND – The peaceful coexistence envisioned by the Warriors and Al Harrington while the team attempted to accommodate the veteran forward’s trade request came to an abrupt end Wednesday in the wake of Golden State’s 111-101 win over the Denver Nuggets.
After second-year forward Brandan Wright supplanted Harrington on the floor and provided a career-high 18 points and 13 rebounds in 32 minutes, Warriors coach Don Nelson said that the days of showcasing Harrington have come to an end, to be replaced by redoubled efforts to place him with another NBA franchise.
“Brandan is ready,” Nelson said. “I’ve held him back a few games where he probably should have played. But I think it’s to the point now where he needs to grow into his position and he’s going to be a member of our team and Al isn’t. And so we have to face reality and go from there.”
Harrington, who averaged 37 1/2 minutes in the Warriors’ first five games, received just 16 on Wednesday, going 1-for-4 and scoring three points. He’s scoring just 12.4 points per contest despite taking the second-most shots on the team — in large part because he’s converted only 32.8 percent of them.
Harrington’s unhappiness was evident for much of last season, but he didn’t speak on the record about the situation until his repeated requests to be separated from Nelson — whose often harsh criticism seemed more suited for a rookie rather than a player then in his 10th season — came to light last week, little more than 24 hours before Opening Night.
“I kind of feel for the guy because he doesn’t want to be here and it’s probably really difficult to gear it up and play up to his abilities,” Nelson said. “I made a deal with him that I was going to play him as many minutes as he would want. And I would have kept that word, (but) when he surprised me with going public with wanting to be traded, it’s made it pretty difficult for me and everybody else. And he hasn’t been playing well, to go along with it. So, we might as well make the – start making the change now.”
A source close to Harrington said last week when news got out that it did not come from the player’s camp, suggesting instead that someone inside the organization might have set the rumor mill in motion.
For his part Wednesday, Harrington rejected — in measured but firm tones — the idea that he is slacking off because of his desire to play elsewhere.
“I don’t care what (Nelson) says,” Harrington said. “I play with energy. That’s his reasoning. I play with energy. I don’t care what nobody say. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels. That’s why he’s the coach.”
After the news hit last week, Harrington and Nelson both attempted to portray the relationship as salvageable, at least from an on-court perspective, but that notion imploded Wednesday.
“I love Al,” team captain Stephen Jackson said. “I’m going to be hurt to have to see him go. I can’t explain my feelings about this. It hurts. I wish everything would work out, and everyone would get along, man. I don’t want to see him go. That’s my personal opinion.”
Said Nelson: “I’m stuck in a situation that I don’t have a great team anyway, and I have a disgruntled player that I was going to play probably 40 minutes a night. I can’t keep my word on that anymore.
“We have to do what we have to do. We’ll wait until we get a good player, we’re not going to wholesale and all of a sudden just get rid of him, because he is a talented player and we have to receive something for him. That will happen, (executive vice president Chris Mullin has) been working on it, and when he finds the right thing that’s good for our team, it’ll happen.”
Harrington said he would not entertain the possibility of walking out on the team prior to its next game, against Memphis on Friday — “No, no, no, no, no. I’m professional. I had some good vets, they taught me the ropes. So I’ll be here.” — but he was especially angered by Nelson’s characterization of his state of mind.
“I feel like I’m a good dude, good person, good teammate. I’m definitely not disgruntled,” Harrington said. “That’s not fair to say that about me, because after the first time that something was said, I haven’t said another word. Everytime someone has said something to me, I’m keeping it low.
“As far as my teammates, none of them say anything to me about it. I don’t say nothing to them. It’s not even an issue in the locker room. So for me to be disgruntled, I think that’ s not right. That’s not a right way to describe me. Period. All them guys know I’m about the team in there. And that’s it.”
Harrington couldn’t say what his reaction would be to being asked to play 15 minutes a night behind Wright, noting that he and Nelson hadn’t spoken on the subject.
“Well, he said it to you all,” Harrington said. “He didn’t say it to me. I guess that’s a discussion me and him got to have.”
Do you plan on talking to him tomorrow?
“If he wants to talk to me.”
He’s got to initiate it?
“Yeah, why not? He’s the coach.”
26 Responses to “Nelson, Harrington wage war of words”
It would be nice if AL averaged 20/10 and increased his trade value, but oh well. I think things have gone about as well as you can hope in this handling of a disgruntled player. Things could be worse. Nellie is doing a nice save saying that AL is playing unhappy so thats affecting his play. I just hope other teams buy that. lol
saltwatertaffy November 6th, 2008 at 12:57 am
You are the MAN Geoff!!! I am stoked that you have insider access and share this with us…
I’m glad this happened…i am glad Nellie finally finally got sick of giving him minutes….AL needs to go ASAP…he seems like a really good dude, but it aint jelling whatsoever.
I was at the game tonight…you can sense the negative vibes he gives off when he is on the court….
The future is now…BW needs to get his minutes and all he has to do is play like he did today….be aggressive but dont force stupid shots…let the passes come to him and have him dunk or layup! It was a pleasure watching him get some burn…..If the Dubs want to hang around until Monta gets back, BW will be a big reason why….less 3 ptrs more energy…..And the 13 rebounds was a pleasant surprise…i thought he had 8 or 9 boards.
If BW plays 20 minutes there is no way he does not produce….he should never shoot outside of 10 ft…he should also never shoot under 50%..
Its about time….cant wait to see BW shine..
Oh My God. Why is he still here??
I love BDub, but he’s no Big Al…when Al’s on his game at least. It’s definitely nice having four players on the court that can all shoot the trey, but with all the drama and “disgruntled”-ness he’s brought, it’s time for him to go.
Geoff, any (new) leads on who we can get for Al?
commish November 6th, 2008 at 4:16 am
This is stupid because Nelson should have been playing Wright a lot more anyway, along with Marco and Randolph. If Nelson had created a culture where the young players on a young team are getting better and learning by playing, then there wouldn’t be so much of an issue of dimished time. It’s only Nellie’s stubborness of playing the heck of out his faves that set up the tension between the in group and the others.
I’m overstating this to a certian degree, but in my opinion there is no sense of being a team with players like Baron and Jax getting to be “divas” and game changers and all of that. You don’t see these issues on the Spurs or Detroit or the Celtics, at least as far as I know. Nellie sets up this discontent by the nature of his own stubborness about who gets to play and when. I think he sucks as our coach of a young team that needs a different coaching role model. Harrington is simply the victim of Nelson’s ego and the culture he creates by not insisting on team basketball and relying on floor leaders and then letting them run wild ala Baron with Jax not far behind. If there wasn’t such a great differeniation between the starters and the subs, like on most teams, then we wouldn’t have these ego wars. Harrington was on the outside looking in and given his veteran status, he finally couldn’t stand it. I don’t blame him for wanting to be on a team where his talents and skills are appreciated and where he knows and accepts his role. I wish him well and hope we can get some value in return.
Son of Ahmed November 6th, 2008 at 7:48 am
One of the best posts I’ve read this early season. Nice job.
GMs have 3 assets: Players, Cap space and Draft Picks.
Nellie gave Al Harrington major minutes to boost Al’s trade and but he put up bad numbers, and the team was losing.
Since Wright appeared ready in practice, Nellie went to him and it worked - once.
The politics cloud what can happen next. Ideally, Nellie would start the hotter player. But NBA player protocol says the vet, Al, should start and maybe pulled if his production was sub-par.
With a public feud, Nellie will show who is boss and have Harrington on a short leash as long as Wright can hold his own. For what ever reason, Al set a low bar. Wright will be on the floor.
JustPuked November 6th, 2008 at 8:51 am
…and we can all see the implosion coming a mile away…
commish November 6th, 2008 at 8:56 am
Thanks Son of Ahmed. I would defer to Geoff or other posters with more knowlege than I have (like Jon who I know from other sites) to answer this question: at this point of his career, is Harrington a starter or bench role player. I know that is pretty open ended and would depend on the team; and, of course, Al is not a true PF. I don’t know if he would do better at F because I presume true forwards are faster and quicker.
Anyway, what concerns me are two things: 1. do we overestimate his trade value (i.e. how good is he relative to other players at his position); and 2. are the Warriors (far) too picky or fearful about trades. I get the impression Mully is quite fearful of making trades in case they don’t work out. Management keeps saying they are looking for equal value, but I think there is a big fear of looking stupid post trade because he was so burned by his earlier (extension) mistakes. Are we asking too much for Al or is it just fear?
The only big trade came out of absolute necessity when Nelson finally exlpained to Mully that Dunmurphy and Ike were not his “cup of tea” to put it politely. Mullin had no choice but to clean up his early mistakes because Nelson essentially made him do it. I think Mullin is a stubborn as Nelson and didn’t want to admit he had made mistakes. He seemed and seems very defensive, even about what he is thinking about anything related to the team. Getting info out of him is like blood out of a turnip.
Anyway, one last thing. Nelson said yesterday that Kurtz is more ready to play than Randolph because Randolph makes too many mistakes. Duh–he is a raw rookie. But does that mean you don’t let him learn by playing and from his mistakes. Same for Marco, who did play a little last night and got his stroke after a slow start. Damn, give the younger players a chance to learn by playing.
I’ve pretty much come to terms with the fact that we are getting nothing for Big Al. As others have pointed out, its hard to see what we could get in exchange. We have enough projects in the front court (Randolph, Wright, even AB). For better or worse, we have made the commitment to Moped at PG, and Maggette and Stack Jack (assuming he gets his extension) at SG/SF. Can’t add a guard or wing without bumping one of these guys. I also think our bench is decent with Buike, Turiaf and Watson. I don’t really have any answers, just pointing out that I think getting fair value for Big Al will be tough.
I think Al’s fate was sealed in the postseason two years ago. He never showed up and he rarely has since.
On yesterday’s game…How did the Warriors end up with only 10 TOs? They could have had 25, but for some kind deflections. Stack Jack played incredible D, particularly on Melo in the second half. Still, he made about 8 really awful passes (lucky to end up with only 5 TOs) and took some terrible shots. Someone needs to tell him to just make the easy looks. We don’t need Magic from him. As was clear last night though, the team needs him as a leader, particularly when they need to weather dry spells like in the 1Q. I thought Watson played a great game and looks like a solid backup. Nice to see Wright and AB aggressive and hitting the glass hard. I would also like to see Turiaf get more touches in the post when he is in. He had some nice looking jumpers. Buike was solid as well, though Anthony Carter got by him too easily. I saw Marco make a shot for the first time ever.
One last thought…what does it do for the Warrior’s offense that both Wright and AB go exclusively to their left hands? I notice that they each like to post on opposite sides, but surely this must limit the offense. Thoughts?
Son of Ahmed November 6th, 2008 at 9:09 am
I don’t think Al’s trade value is totally shot. His past three games don’t fill out his career resume. He is a productive NBA player over his career. This team is just not a good fit for him. So Mullin needs to trade him for another like asset in a similar situation, preferably a point guard. Felton comes to mind, though I use his name only as an example.
Al is a good guy and he is a professional. The problem is Nelson who plays head games with his players. Too many players are walking on egg shells, not know where they stand or how long they’ll be in Coach’s good or bad graces. Mark Jackson commented on this last night on ESPN.
Geoff Lepper November 6th, 2008 at 9:44 am
Joe is on point when he says “The politics cloud what can happen next.” That’s why I made sure to ask Al specifically about how he would react to being a 15-minute-a-night player. Because that bench gunner role is the one he should probably play for the Warriors at this point, given this team’s situation (stacked with young frontcourt talent and not good enough to consider competing for a title).
It’s hard to convince any veteran athlete that it’s time to accept a reduced role. But it’s especially difficult when there’s been emnity building between the coach and player for more than a year. That’s really making this situation tough to solve in any way other than a trade.
Many people have pointed out that Al’s a ‘tweener, position-wise. The problem is that he’s also a ‘tweener as far as team roles go. He’s good enough to be a No. 1 or 2 option on a team — but not on a 50-win team, if that makes any sense.
Al Harrington was great 6th man with the Pacers and “The Man” on a bad Hawks team. (as I recall)
I don’t understand what’s wrong right now (I’m not a BB guy, just a fan).
The cliché is Al needs to play through these problems but there’s little room for that now.
Another cliché is if your shot isn’t going down, you find other ways to help the team - defense, rebounding and etc. I didn’t see that contribution in his past games.
My last cliché comes from Scott Skiles who says players have to work in the off season to improve their game (skills). They can’t do it during the season and maintaining physical fitness isn’t enough.
I don’t know if Al’s tired or not. Sometimes players work hard and can’t. e.g. Bulls Ben Gordon tried to build his PG skills with several off-season regiments at the Bulls facilities under coaching supervision BUT that hard work hasn’t paid off. Ben’s not a PG. He’s turn over prone and plays at SG.
He’s not hitting shots that he should make- that’s the biggest problem. Even when he gets into the paint, he’s not effective.
That’s probably the biggest difference- he was more explosive in his younger days, but now his legs aren’t there and he’s a jumpshooter thats soft inside.
petaluman November 6th, 2008 at 12:15 pm
I have no illusions about Al’s trade value, but initially felt most of them had to do with his contract situation. However, his lack of production so far this year has been troubling. With the local near-blackout conditions for Warriors pre- and early season, I haven’t seen him play much, but what I have seen suggests that he’s not holding back at all. His failings do not appear to be from lack of effort or intensity.
What have you seen? Does he look sharper in practice? Has he reached that slippery slope where his abilities have declined significantly, is he just in a mini-slump, is he just pressing too hard? I don’t expect BW to play as well every game, and he will have some 3-fouls-in-5-minutes type outings. Regardless of which starts more games, I think we still need both of them for now.
Gwydion November 6th, 2008 at 12:50 pm
I don’t blame Al too much for this, but it’s just time to end it. The relationship isn’t working anymore, we wish you well, it’s not you, Al, it’s us. We’ve changed and we really need someone who can rebound, someone who’ll be there when we need them.
Ive been following the nba for a long time and have been priviliged to attend 100s of games including about 20 something warrior games last season, its very simple whats going on between Al and nellie, nellies got a big ego because hes been around for so long and won as a player with the celtics but a coaching record of 1282 and 957 is good but nothing to get to excited about, hes lost tons of games as well, its just a numbers game hes been around for so long of course hes gonna win some games, hes never taken a team to the nba finals and his teams play no d, ill give him credit for creating nellie ball , which is entertaining in the regular season but never gets it done in the postseason, sounds like im hating but im not just stating all the facts, as for Al, hes not jordan or kobe but he has crazy talent which is why he was drafted out of high school, hes obviously an emotional guy and lets thing affect his game which is something that great players dont allow, but nellie has turned him into a standstill shooter, whatch the tape , i have, he has al just standing around, thats not up to al thats from nellie, hes using him totally wrong , on indy he was a beast in the paint year after year and was always in the 6th man of the year conversation, hes big and strong and can hit threes ,nellie shouldve given him more freedom instead he screwed with his head and messed up his confidence by giving everyone on the team a green light but him, al consistantly had the shortest leash on the team last year, how u supposed to get in any rythm like that and he still averaged almost 14 and 6 in a paltry 26,27 minutes a game, true hes not gonna lead a team by himself but if used correctly can be a major part of any team
M.Squared November 6th, 2008 at 1:29 pm
Al is a #3/4 guy all the way. Without looking at stats- he appeared to contrbuted much more he first got here. JR and Baron were 1/2 and Jack and Al were the 3/4 men. He isn’t hitting his shots because he is letting his emotions get the best of him right now. I like Al a lot and was happy to get him- but I have learned that he doesn’t have that killer instinct on the floor ( like Jack, Baron, JR) and that he tiptoes on the soft side with his game. With this team and where we are at now- it is best to move him but for the right player.
Bwright brought a lot of energy last night. How many times do you see a guy block another players jump shot from near the 3 point line? That game was easily the best game of the season from the standpoint of defensive activity. In the 3rd q, you saw 2 and three guys swarming Nuggets in the paint and going after blocks and it reminded me of the type of play we saw during the playoff run. Lots of movement and people flying around the court with TEAM D in mind. A lot of active hands- tipping, blocking swiping. Watson definitely facilitates the offense better than Nelson. I would like to see him start the next game to get it going from the tip. I would hope that this also signifies the start of a consistent 25 min per game for Wright. There are going to be nights where he only gets 10 points and is inconsistent- but that is what this next 2 months is going likely be for him. Many other good 4’s have rode this wave while evolving into good players ( Josh Smith, Dwight Howard, Lee and Alderidge of last year- all come to mind).
I would also hope that despite Nellies comments- Bellinelli and Randolph aren’t far behind. I thought Marco played good D last night and calmly stuck his jumper. They should have went to him sooner in the game.
M.Squared November 6th, 2008 at 2:45 pm
Ok- I took another stab at this today.
I have heard for sometime that Villenueva is on the way out in Mil.
They also have Damon Jones who has been banished from the team since the trade that brought him in- simply because they dont feel they need him.
I would be ok with a Villenueva/Jones for Big Al deal. Jones expires at the end of this season and could be a serviceable combo guard “if” we needed him while Ellis recovers. I think that there a lot more upside and development in Villenueva. He kind of got jerked around last year while the Bucks tried to force the YI situation to work. He could play as a big man off the bench behind either Beidrens or Wright and he could also spot start when needed as well.
His contract expires this year also - but because he has not really established himself just yet- it is possible that if we like him- we could resign him at a reasonable price. He could thrive under Nellie because of his ability to shoot the three and play inside the paint. I think it is worth investigating.
The Warriors should not make any trade that doesn’t help their future just because Al Harrington has been unable to produce after being given plenty of playing time to demonstrate what he can bring to the table and has become unhappy with his role on this team. As far as the Warriors are concerned, the baseline value for Al Harrington should be the cap space his contract provides if he were to opt out of the final year of his contract. If a Harrington trade that makes sense for the Warriors isn’t available this season then the team should just wait until the summer when Al can either opt out or stay and become a highly coveted $10 million expiring contract for all of those teams seeking cap space for the 2010 free agency bonanza. Hauling away another team’s unwanted trash under the guise of a trade and making a bad situation worse is simply not in the best interests of the Warriors regardless of how badly Dan Fegan and Al Harrington may disagree.
[...] to talk about Al Harrington’s faux excitement to being named a captain last season, and what happened shortly thereafter? Talking Points (Tim Kawakami): Is Nellie’s offer of a free year of service the first move [...]
[...] Fifty-three weeks ago, Warriors coach Don Nelson yanked Al Harrington from his rotation, playing him for less than 20 minutes in the fifth game of the season. In his post-game press conference, Nelson dropped the pretense that the two sides could peacefully co-exist while Golden State tried to accommodate the captain’s trade request. [...]
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