The Morning Report: The Don Nelson Show — in print!
Since Don Nelson has generally eschewed the Bay Area print media in favor of his own radio show on the friendly confines of KNBR, his 15 minutes a week with Tom Tolbert and Ralph Barbieri have become a must-listen for Warriors fans.
Until now, that is. For those who would rather read it on the printed page, here’s a transcript of Nelson’s Thursday night appearance. (Those who wish to listen for themselves can head over here.)
Tom Tolbert: Got your first win. Did you have a big party last night?
Don Nelson: (Laughs.) No, not a big one.
TT: It’s always nice to get that first one though, isn’t it?
DN: Yeah, absolutely.
TT: It’s funny, because I think we’ve talked about this before, coach, and it’s one of the things that’s most stressful — or, to me, I found most interesting about being a head coach, especially at the highest level, and I remembered when I played for you for three years: It always seemed like you didn’t enjoy the wins as much as the losses upset you. Not just you, but coaches seem to take losses a lot harder than they enjoy the wins. Is that true, and if so, do you have to make sure you take time to enjoy the wins?
DN: Well, yeah, it is true. You get on like a treadmill and you’ve got to take the good and the bad, but the losses, especially when they mount up, and you know you’re not a contender, you’re not a 50-win team, you really struggle. And you know that the bad teams make mistakes down the end and the good ones don’t. You know all those things are coming, and you have to prepare yourself for it. When you lose one like our opener, we lost by a point, you can’t get that one back, you know? There was one that we thought we should have won and we didn’t do it. So yeah, you take ‘em hard, no question.
Ralph Barbieri: And then if you have a losing season, and you’re taking it real hard, then you’re going to go back to one of your half-dozen properties on Maui and it bothers you for like a day or a day and a half, probably.
DN: Oh, yeah, yeah, Ralph. Just soft-pedal it as best you can.
RB: Hey listen, seriously, this sounds like a simple formula for a win: You let them get as many rebounds as you want, let them get as many free throws, and just make sure you’ve got a guy that’s shooting 10-for-12 and you shoot 54 percent from the floor and everything’s good.
DN: Well, I think this is our best chance to win, play with this lineup, and Jack has beefed up a little bit, so he can guard 4s a little bit better, maybe than last year. And it puts an onus on their defense, you know? You’ve got to guard him, and it opens the middle up, a whole lot of good things. The bottom line is, you’re going to hurt on the boards, but by golly, we were getting hurt anyway. It didn’t matter what lineup I put out there. Even my big lineup wasn’t that dramatic on the boards. We still got outrebounded.
TT: I saw Stephen Jackson got a couple of new neck tattoos that are supposed to mean honor and integrity. Do you think he notices the irony in that?
DN: That’s a good question to ask him about. I’m not sure I haven’t seen them, so I wouldn’t know.
TT: I would say, “No.”
DN: I’m not going in the shower room to look, either.
TT: Now you may see other tattoos, and you might want to stay away from that. . . . What about Anthony Morrow, because this guy who can certainly shoot it. Does everybody know that this guy’s going to be around the 3-point line somewhere, and if we dribble-drive or if we penetrate, we’ve got look for this guy at all times? We’ve got to look for our shot too. Curry seems to do a nice job of it. Monta made a couple nice passes to him. But he’s a guy that you have to look for on the dribble-drive penetration because give him an inch and that guy is deadly.
DN: When you have all shooters out there – Monta maybe doesn’t have the 3-point range, but we use him in the screen-and-rolls quite a lot, so he’s occupied, and to pick up that roller, you’ve got to come off somebody, otherwise he’s going to be open. So if you have that ability to know where other people are, other than the single roller, that’s going to really open up that shooter. Monta found him for the first time, so I was really happy to see that. We’ve been showing a lot of film of when he’s open and where he’s open, and it finally kind of clicked.
RB: Twelve assists for Monta. I heard somebody say 13 is the most he had in his career, but those are some pretty nice numbers. Twenty or 22 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds. That was about as complete a game as I guess Monta can play, wouldn’t you say?
DN: Yeah, I’d say so. I thought he was really an all-around guy and it afforded me (the chance) to play Morrow more. I was playing Morrow with him before, and he never got the ball when he was open. Unless you’re a stopper, you’re not exercising your talent, and then it’s really hard. And he’s not a defensive stopper, so if he’s not scoring and you’re not finding him where he can contribute, then you’ve got to rely on other things he does, and he doesn’t do those other things as well.
RB: How much can you rely on the shooting of your team? Even though you were down after the first quarter, it seemed to me like even in the first half, you were getting good shots, you just weren’t making them. So once you start making them, you just tell them to keep shooting and then you’re going to make them and eventually it’ll work out OK?
DN: Yeah, if you’re getting – if you’re not shooting early, if you’re not doing it on your own, you’re getting passes from a teammate or something like, that, sure. You’ve got your shot and you shoot it. It’s that simple, and you try to give your team confidence to do it. If you’re having a bad night, try to do something else. Monta, I think he missed his first five shots or so and by golly, he did other things. He started to find open people. But you’ve got to remember, we weren’t playing a very good defensive team. So there were a lot of openings there. And against good teams, some of those same plays aren’t going to be there.
TT: Was there something said by you early in the season, before the season started, about the 3-point shot? I know it’s a different team, but Kelenna can shoot the 3, Curry’s a 3-point shooter, Stephen Jackson’s been known to launch a few 3-pointers. Obviously, we know Anthony Morrow will shoot. But it seems like the 3-pointers are down a little bit this year. Is that just because of personnel, or a different philosophy?
DN: No, actually we didn’t have enough 3-point shooters on the floor. When we were playing Randolph at 4, it was more crowded in there for our rollers, and I thought it was effecting Goose. If you have one 3-point shooter on the floor — Jack wasn’t shooting them early — they’ll just play that guy (for the 3), and then you’ve only got one guy out there that can make a shot. So it’s a little different now. Now we’ve got shooters all over the place, and we’re making the extra pass and I think it’s certainly better offensively. We have mismatches all over defensively that the good teams I’m sure will take full advantage of. But we’re willing to go through those pains to try to maybe get something going offensively.
RB: I see where you said Randolph is probably taller than anybody I’ve got on the team right now, and he’s still growing. Maybe eventually center will be his position. I don’t know. I thought we were struggling between a 3 and a 4, and now 5 comes into the picture, too?
DN: Well, 5’s the easiest position to play. That’s why I had Tolbert play there.
TT: Thanks, I appreciate that.
DN: The same shots you get against a 4 are more open against a 5. It’s more clear cut. If you’ve got shooters around the court, your screen-and-roll game, you’re going to be open in the paint. And if you have the ability that Randolph has — he’s got good hands, he’s got a really good hop and he’s long, so there’ll be some easy baskets there for him. I don’t know where his future’s going. I think it’s really bright, but I think this is an opportunity. If you could ever be a center in this league — I mean, you know, that’s the second-most-important position.
RB: Tom kept saying how he had to guard all these guys that were so much bigger and taller. He never talked about the (positive) attributes.
DN: Guarding’s the problem, because there are some big bulky guys that you have to guard, and that’s the problem, of course, when you’re thin. But offensively, I think he can be a factor, and I hope that he kind of grows into it. Certainly, if he can play two positions for sure, it’ll help. And eventually, he might even be able to play three. I don’t know.
TT: I’m sure Nellie’s thinking is, when he put me up against Ewing, I can hold him to at least 38.
DN: (Laughs.) Well, I think we beat them most of the time, didn’t we?
TT: I think we did, absolutely. I tell you what, though. A lot of those centers I guarded had a lot of fun on the offensive end. They didn’t enjoy it as much on the defensive end a whole hell of a lot.
RB: Randolph gets 7 or 8 minutes last night, he turned the ball over three times and had a couple of fouls and that was the end of his stint in there and you used Moore for about 20 minutes.
DN: It had nothing to do with that. I actually thought he played pretty well. I wasn’t displeased with his play at all. In fact, I was encouraged by it. But you’ve got to be careful who you match him up against. If it’s a real big 300 pounder, which we were playing last night, it’s just a little too much for him; the guy is going to seal him and get some easy scores. I’m just careful with him, and they didn’t play their backup center very much. So that limited his playing. I want my veterans to play against their starters and when they come in with a sub, I think I might even have an advantage there with Randolph.
RB: Maggette had a good night, too, didn’t he?
DN: Yeah, he did. He’s actually my best low-post defender right now. He knows what he’s doing in there, he’s a pretty good team defender, he just doesn’t get enough rebounds. I think he can get more. And then, his shot selection — he’s a veteran, and I’m not gonna try to change him. Just like everybody that watches him play, you want him to drive the ball every time, and he settles for the jumper sometimes when you want him to drive. But he’s gonna have to play the way that he plays.
TT: Don’t worry, coach, you don’t have to let him know. The fans were doing a good job of that last night.
DN: Yeah, yeah, I know. And I sympathize with them, because I’m probably thinking the same thing. But I think you have to realize when you have a veteran player like that, his strength is on the offensive end, and you can’t limit him just for driving. You’ve got to let him shoot some outside shots. He actually made a couple of pretty big 3s.
TT: No, he did.
[Ed. note: Yeah, he didn’t. Not this season, anyway: 0-3 on 3FGAs.]
TT: I think the fans were off-base when he takes one jump shot and it’s from the perimeter and he misses it, because he’s been struggling in the previous two games. But I think where you get a little restless is when you see a missed jumper, a missed jumper and then a missed jumper, and you’re thinking, OK, after two missed jumpers –
RB: You make your living at the line, for Chrissakes, so go get to the line.
TT: — he can really get to the rim as well as anybody and really get to the free-throw line, I think that’s where people are saying, OK, you know what? Two jumpers in a row, fine. We don’t need the third jumper until you get your butt to the rim.
DN: On several occasions, the team has not been doing well, and I put him in the game, and the first time, he’ll shoot a long jumper and it’s not really what you’re looking for at that point. As a veteran, he should know the team’s not doing very well, we missed a bunch of jumpers, now is the time for you to get us to the line. He’s got to have a good understanding of that.
TT: You know what I think it is? And you can tell me if I’m wrong or not. But I think what it is with some of these guys is that it’s harder work. It’s harder work to go in there and try to score and get hit, and it’s easy to take an 18-foot jump shot if they’re giving it to you. And, as a lot of people have said, if you’re open from 18 feet, there’s a reason you’re open from 18 feet. They want you to be open from 18 feet.
RB: That was true of Baron a lot, too.
TT: Yeah, I think a lot of guys are just, you know what, it’s easier to take this 18-foot jumper than it is — because it’s hard work to get to the rim, and I think a lot of guys take the easy way out.
DN: In his defense, he actually has not been getting any calls at the rim. And so if you’re not getting that call and you can’t finish it and you can’t make plays, then when your outside shot is open, you’re going to have to take some of those.
RB: Speaking of getting calls, is Biedrins still being treated like a rookie? He gets three fouls (quickly) and somebody said one of the refs even apologized to him last night or something for making a bad call.
DN: Yeah, he got a bad call or two early. When you only have really one center, with our injury situation, early foul trouble really puts us in a bind. So I’m going to have to be more careful and when he gets his second one, I’ll have to sub him now, so he doesn’t get that third one.
RB: He doesn’t get many breaks.
DN: Yeah, on the defensive end, he’s a pretty good position defender. But you’re right: He’s not a star player, so he’s not going to get the breaks.
RB: Just to get back to Maggette for a second, at the risk of sounding harsh. The main problem I have with him is Tom showed me his stats for the last five years and he’s missed as many or more games than Baron had. He just seems to really be pretty fragile and get hurt a lot.
DN: Well, he does. And he does because he drives the ball a lot. Guess what? When you’re driving the ball, you’re going to be running into a center somewhere along the line. They’re big and bulky. They haven’t been calling those fouls early in the season, so yeah, he gets banged up. There’s no question. He misses a lot of games. That’s why I was trying to limit his playing time to about 25 minutes (per game) this year, to see if I could get a full season out of him.
TT: How important is the opening schedule, with the Clippers, and at Sacramento, and Minnesota at home? How important are these games going into a massive road trip, and then Dallas and San Antonio and the Lakers. I mean, do you find it — I don’t want to say putting more effort into the game, because that would mean you have games where you put less energy into. But maybe playing guys a little longer than you would like to, to make sure we get a few wins before we head onto that massive road trip.
DN: Yeah, that’s probably a very honest opinion you have there. We know that it’s a fairly light schedule early, and then of course, guess what? If it’s light early, you’ve got a lot of iron that you’re gonna be playing later. So I always thought important to get off to a good start anyway, but especially now. Our team isn’t real strong, and if we let these games early slip away, it’s going to be that much more difficult.
Onto the links:
San Francisco Chronicle (John Shea): Anthony Randolph says he never heard from the team during the offseason about the possibility of playing more center, which means . . .
1) Randolph isn’t a good listener
2) the Warriors aren’t good forward thinkers
3) this whole Randolph-is-going-to-be-a-center story is something Nelson concocted on the fly last week
4) all of the above
Personally, my bet is 4. But I’m cynical like that.
Contra Costa Times (Marcus Thompson II): So, Andris Biedrins (doubtful for tonight) isn’t worried because he’s never had back problems before? Yeah, that’s what every guy with a lingering back problem said . . . before he had a lingering back problem.
Inside The Warriors/Contra Costa Times (Marcus Thompson II): As Marcus puts it, “I can’t help but think it’s a big issue that Randolph is currently 10th on the team in minutes per game.”
Warriors Wire/Santa Rosa Press Democrat (Jared Cowley): Singing the praises of the Warriors’ defense (which is, BTW, still 28th in terms of opponent eFG% at 55.0).
Warriorsworld.com/Examiner.com (Ray Yocke): Keeping a wary eye out eruptions from Mount St. Randolph in the wake of his abrupt positional change.
KNBR (Rod Brooks & Bob Fitzgerald): Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports says Stephen Jackson’s value is just going up as Cleveland’s struggles continue.
KNBR (Brian Murphy & Paul McCaffrey): The always entertaining Bill Simmons takes his whacks at Chris Cohan. (Is it KNBR’s Warriors day, or what?)
Warriors.com: Post-practice interviews with Don Nelson and Andris Biedrins. Also, there’s audio of Ronny Turiaf’s conference call with season-ticket holders.
3 Responses to “The Morning Report: The Don Nelson Show — in print!”
Thanks for this Geoff. A great service.
Went to SImmon’s book signing last night. Poor guy looked like he was about to keel over. He tweeted it was the biggest turnout of the tour. Anyone who likes basketball needs to read his book. It becomes obvious very early that he put an insane amount of work into it.
From one blogger to another I have to say that your writing style has convinced me that I need to improve mine! Fantastic article!
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