Don Nelson Out as Warriors' Head Coach
In what was a surprising, but not-so-surprising move, the Golden State Warriors will part ways with head coach Don Nelson and promote his assistant, Keith Smart, to head coach, a source told the media on the condition of anonymity late Thursday night.
Nelson, 70, joined the Warriors for his second stint as head coach in 2006 after being brought in by one of the players from his first stint from 1988-1995, Chris Mullin. His record with Golden State in his two stints was 422-483. He also holds the all-time wins record in the NBA for a head coach with 1,335, won the NBA Coach of the Year award three times (including in 1992 with the Warriors), and led three different teams to the postseason (Bucks, Warriors, and Mavericks). However, despite all these accolades, there was one thing that eluded Nellie in his coaching career: a NBA championship.
The reason for the ouster was the result of the new ownership of the franchise. Owner Joe Lacob was not a fan of Nelson's style of coaching, which is uptempo and fast-paced, high scoring type of offense. The drawback with Nellie-ball was that the Warriors seemed to forget how to play defense, typically allowing the highest points per game average year in and year out. In fact, since Nelson's arrival in 2006, the team has ranked 30th in opposing points per game every year. Lacob and his fellow owner, Peter Guber, are reportedly working on a $6M settlement, and Nelson will most likely retire.
The Warriors' head coaching job will be the first for Keith Smart. He is best known for his game-winning shot in the 1987 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship against Syracuse. He was the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers on an interim basis in 2002, and led them to a 9-31 record. He was a long-time assistant on Nelson's staff with Golden State since 2006, and was considered to be the heir-apparent for the position when Nelson left.
While this will be a welcomed change for the Warriors fans, it symbolizes the change and a fresh start for the fans of the Bay Area. With a new logo, new uniforms, new colors, new owners, it will be interesting to see how Stephen Curry and company will fare this season.