» Blog Archive » On second thought … keeping Al Harrington would have been a better move for the Warriors
  • Mar

    By Geoff Lepper

    Things have gotten so ridiculous in the Jamal Crawford-Don Nelson power struggle that it’s prompted a first in the (admittedly short) history of this site: The retraction of an earlier entry.

    Back in November, when the Warriors swapped unhappy forward Al Harrington to the Knicks for Crawford, I wrote that it was the best deal Golden State could have made at that time.

    My position was that since the Warriors had already cashed in their future salary-cap space by giving a maximum-allowed contract extension to Stephen Jackson, throwing away Harrington’s expiring deal wasn’t a horrible move it would have been for some teams.

    [Sidebar on the Jackson deal: It still boggles the mind that the Warriors agreed to that extension some 18 months before a decision needed to be reached. There still has not been any adequate explanation (check that, no explanation AT ALL) by anyone at 1011 Broadway (including, most notably, team president Bobby Rowell, who hashed out the contract details with Jackson) about why Golden State abandoned two years’ worth of tough-as-nails negotiating stances with every member of its roster, then threw a pile of cash in Jackson’s lap.]

    And exchanging someone who had no intention of playing here again for a guy in Crawford who can create off the dribble and shoot from distance could only help in the short term.

    But after four months of watching the Jamal Crawford Era in Oakland, I can say this with certainty:

    The Warriors should have eaten Harrington’s contract rather than pull the trigger on that deal.

    It sounds ludicrous to suggest flushing the better part of $9.2M, but honestly, the Warriors would be better off right now without Crawford.

    This is a power game that Nelson’s not going to win, because he has no leverage. Crawford is already stuck in the worst possible situation for him, professionally speaking, saddled with a coach who would rather have him model suits than get on the court. A trade to any of the other 29 NBA teams would be an improvement, and if the Warriors try to ice him out again next season (doubtful, since there’s no opt-out clause to push him towards, but not out of the realm of possibility), he’s still pulling down $9.4M. That’ll take a lot of the sting out of a professional embarrassment.

    Crawford is hardly the first guy to receive brusque treatment – or worse – from Nelson during this go-round as coach. Nellie’s supporters like to point out that Patrick O’Bryant – who was in the doghouse practically from Day 1 – has been a flop in Boston this season, just as ineffective in a half-court scheme as he was playing up-tempo ball.

    But you can’t keep alienating your best players and remain effective. I’ve already gone on record as saying that I think Monta Ellis’ defensive effort reeks of a guy who doesn’t give a crap about his coach or his team and is interested only in putting up numbers so he can get out of Dodge.

    In addition to Ellis, Harrington and Crawford, Nelson has also battled at various times with Jackson (remember the call-out at shootaround in Nelson’s car?), Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright, Marco Belinelli and Marcus Williams. And that’s just this season. Add in O’Bryant, Mickael Pietrus, Matt Barnes, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Adonal Foyle, Sarunas Jasikevicius – I mean, I’m all for a coach shaking things up, especially when he comes into a franchise that was as hopeless as the Warriors were in August 2006, but when you rip as many of your own players, as often as Nelson has, you earn a unsavory reputation around the league.

    That’s why I found one quote in Monte Poole’s lengthy dissection of the Warriors’ woes to be the most troubling. Aaron Goodwin, one of the NBA’s most influential agents, has this to say:

    “Golden State is still an attractive place to play. Being a resident (of Oakland), I’d love to see my free agents and other free agents come here. It’s an exciting style and an opportunity to win. But with the experience I’ve had with Matt Barnes and Jamal, I’d have to think twice about a free agent coming here.”

    I guess it’s a good thing the Warriors don’t have any significant salary-cap room for the foreseeable future. It would sad watching them get turned down repeatedly while trying to spend it.

    Contact: geofflepper@48minutes.net

17 Responses to “On second thought … keeping Al Harrington would have been a better move for the Warriors”

  1. Well, thank goodness we have Aaron Goodwin’s selfless opinion to go by. :-)

    On that subject, to start peeling the onion of what’s wrong with this post — how do you think Nelson should have avoided the current situation with Crawford? Should he simply have kept playing Crawford 35-40 minutes every game (thereby denying minutes to younger players), even though he had already concluded that an Ellis/Crawford backcourt wouldn’t work out?

    Or should he have sat Crawford, but not told him why?

    Because once Nellie decides to tell Crawford why his minutes are being cut — i.e, because he’s not in the long-term plans for the team — you’ve set off the current chain of events.

  2. Soap opera D league play and an owner that is the worst in the NBA. So I’ll say it again ” Don’t re-up your season tickets, and Just Boycott the Warriors until Chris Cohan sells the team!!! oh Maghoggy has to go…………

  3. Lep-Dog,

    Love this post!

    Thank you.

  4. Losers. Period.

  5. I agree with justafan and have decided not to renew. I hope thousands are thinking the same way

  6. Goodwin is just peeved that he couldn’t get fat extensions in Oakland for his clients Crawford and Barnes. I guess the days of giving third-rate talents like Mike Dunleavy and Adonal Foyle are over, thank god. But make no mistake about it - Goodwin’s will have his clients lining up in Oakland if he thinks they can get a fat deal here.

  7. “Have to think twice” = agentspeak for “Let me see who’s offering more”

    I was tremendously disappointed in Al H. I defended him all along, and still think our team would have been better this year if he had stayed and played. I even gave him the benefit of the doubt on his “back injury”. After his post-trade miracle cure, though, I lost all respect for him.

    We should have kept him, and forced him to either play or void his contract for refusal to do so. I think he would have played - it’s all about the benjamins for him too, I now see. He’s got a future as an agent…

  8. What?

    Al Harrington sucked the worst way possible and you drop a word like this on your blog?

    - you should also have be traded to a random blogger from Texas

  9. While I agree with Geoff’s premise, what he doesn’t do here is really delve into the problems with Jamal Crawford. It’s really quite startling that a guy who by all accounts seems intelligent, thoughtful and hard-working has so few qualities that translate to winning.

    If Monta’s defense is bad, Crawford’s is putrid. Crawford is prone to taking possession-killing jumpers at the most inopportune times, showing off his And-1 Mixtape moves while teammates are wide open and showing about as much physical toughness as Davis Love III. That and he’s a “streaky” shooter, meaning the only reason he’s still in the league even though he only shoots 40% and plays no defense is because he occasionally hits 50 points in a game and is the best 4-point-play guy in the league. Great.

    This isn’t just about the general awkwardness of Nelson benching him and Aaron Goodwin’s displeasure, it’s that the Warriors had a $9M expiring contract and they jumped at 20 ppg without looking at the consequences. Did they think Monta would never come back? Were they planning on voiding his contract? Geoff is right, the Warriors would have been better off letting Harrington’s contract expire, simply to avoid two more years from a player who doesn’t make the Warriors better and will be nearly untradeable in the current economy and labor status in the NBA.

  10. Twinkie: No doubt, clients of Goodwin and other agents will come here if the get overpaid to do so, but that’s exactly it — they will have to be OVERPAID to do so. Good teams get better by adding guys who are willing to play on the cheap to insure they’re playing on a winning team, or are in a situation they like. The Warriors certainly aren’t the former, and with every guy that Nelson alienates, they’re getting farther from the latter.

    Put it this way: Assuming the Warriors can’t dump Crawford, they’ll be over the cap and have the full mid-level exception available to them — but who the hell will want to take it when they will most likely be able to get the same cash to go elsewhere (and almost anywhere else looks more attractive than here)?

    Swopa: They could have gone one of two ways with Crawford — a) bully him in an attempt to get him to opt out or b) showcase him the rest of this season to improve the chances of moving him in a trade this summer. Given the economic climate, a) had a very, very low chance of succeeding, but that’s the route the W’s and Nelson chose, instead of b). [Also, while you claim that playing Crawford would keep the youngsters off the floor, let's not forget that during Crawford's absence, Stephen Jackson averaged 37-plus minutes; the Warriors very easily could have shut Jackson down instead of Crawford to free up minutes for Morrow/Belinelli, which, shockingly enough, is exactly what's going to happen come Saturday.]

  11. Now that Jackson’s injured and may be gone the rest of the season, you have to wonder if Nelson will keep benching Crawford.

    If Crawford’s banishment ends in the next game or two and Nelson says something like, “We had to put him back in, we just don’t have enough bodies,” then we’ll know Nelson’s main goal is to get that all-time wins record.

    My guess is he’ll keep benching Crawford and just play C.J. Watson 40+ minutes every game, but it’s something that bears watching.

  12. Geoff, thanks for squeezing in a reply between games, but I think you’re overlooking a few things. First, you assume that Crawford won’t opt out, and that this situation is destroying his trade value. I’d suggest that both of those assumptions are wrong — (1) Nelson’s conversation with Jamal took place just a couple of days after the trade deadline, so I’d bet he wouldn’t make that remark about a trade unless GS had a specific offer on the table. (2) Moreover, is Aaron Goodwin acting like an agent whose client is off the market until 2011? His hyperactivity implies that Crawford will indeed opt out, and Goodwin is trying to boost his market value by making him look (successfully, judging from the media reports) like an innocent victim of Crazy Nellie.

    Second, you seem to think that all minutes for the younger players are created equal. I’d argue that from Nelson’s perspective, he’d rather have them get experience playing alongside Jackson (who will be a key player on the team next year) rather than Crawford (who won’t)… and that he’d also rather they get experience playing in competitive situations (which are more likely with Jackson on the floor than Crawford).

    Third, by assuming that Nelson’s primary intent was to bully Crawford into opting out, you’re accepting Aaron Goodwin’s spin at face value. IMO, Nelson went to Jamal knowing that (1) an Ellis/Crawford backcourt didn’t look good in the long run, (2) there was an acceptable (but apparently not overwhelming) trade offer for Craw on the table for the offseason, and (3) he wanted to give more minutes to the younger players. So he explained to Jamal the plan to cut his minutes, but sit him for entire games in order to preserve his PPG should he choose to opt out.

    Crawford told Goodwin, who responded with the anti-Nelson jihad we’ve seen the last few weeks. But here’s the punch line: Nelson *doesn’t care* about being made the bad guy, because that just enhances Crawford’s ability to opt out. Which is why Jamal refusing to play the last couple of games isn’t being treated as subordination; he and Nellie are basically on the same page. If Jax is gone the rest of the season, it’s a half-a-loaf solution that accomplishes the goal you want, but also bought several games’ worth of experience for Morrow/Wright/Randolph to play with Jackson (and for Nelson et al. to assess how they might work together next year).

  13. The assumption that Jamal Crawford won’t opt out is completely correct, for the same reason that Crawford’s trade value is extremely low right now.

    In this economy, how many NBA teams would sign Crawford as a free agent to a long-term contract worth more than $20M? Can you think of one? How many teams would trade for him when he couldn’t stand out on a team seemingly made for him?

    Crawford’s on his third team now, and he’s a guard without any discernible defensive skills who couldn’t make it on teams coached by Mike D’Antoni and Don Nelson. That isn’t a good sign. Crawford should study Jason Terry’s game-tapes like crazy, because unless he figures out how to become that type of player he’ll be like a clean-and-sober Ricky Davis — he’ll end up playing for ten teams before it’s all said and done.

  14. [...] Geoff Lepper brought up the question of whether the Warriors should have just bought out Al Harringt… rather than trade him for Crawford, and I would say absolutely. Crawford’s a smart fellow to be sure, and he says all the right things to the media, but he is basketball poison. He shoots 40% from the field (and that’s a streaky 40%), would rather take a three early in the shot clock than look for an open teammate (especially now that he’s in full eff-you mode) and plays absolutely no defense. Crawford may be a useful player in a few years to a playoff team who needs scoring off the bench, sort of like a poor-man’s Jason Terry, but he’s of no use to the Warriors in their current form. [...]

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