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News » Golden State Warriors Getting Inside 2009-10-19

Golden State Warriors Getting Inside 2009-10-19

Golden State Warriors Getting Inside 2009-10-19Trying to predict how the Warriors will fare in the 2009-10 NBA season is like trying to predict what Stephen Jackson will do next.

Good luck.

One minute Jackson, the Warriors' leading scorer last season at 20.7 points per game, is happy to be the new face of the franchise. The next he's insisting he'd rather be a role player on a title contender.

In one minute, he's ecstatic about a three-year, $28 million extension he received last November. In the next, he's offering to sacrifice some of the guarantee in order to get a buyout that would allow him to leave even before the extension kicks in.

In one minute, he's proud to be Captain Jack. In the next, he's insisting he can't be a role model and surrenders his captaincy.

Jackson, whose career got a second life following a trade from Indiana in 2007, has made it clear he wants to pack up and find another new home. The sooner, the better. "I know there are a lot of teams that want me," Jackson said.

And while Warriors management has publicly stated it would like to grant Jackson's wish, it also has vowed not to accept less than full value in return for one of their few both-ends-of-the-court players. "We're still going to try to accommodate him," Don Nelson said, "but it's not easy to do."

It appears Jackson not only will start the season as a Warrior, but will start at small forward. How he approaches each game probably will have a direct impact on that contest, and that's what scares almost everyone associated with the Warriors.

Jackson's relationship with Nelson, who had a sideline run-in with his star player Oct. 9 in Los Angeles that resulted in a two-game suspension and a $139,000 loss in wages, speaks to the uncertainty of which guy -- the hero or the villain -- will show up at any given game.

"I have to give that respect to listen to (Nelson) when he's coaching. So I'm going to give him that," Jackson said. "But as far as being off the court, I don't listen."

The Warriors played 23 games without Jackson for a variety of reasons last season. They went 8-15 in those games.

Then again, Jackson wasn't the only guy sitting out those contests. Monta Ellis was sidelined more than half the season following ankle surgery, and Corey Maggette and Andris Biedrins combined to miss 51 games.

The latter three are all back and ready for bigger and better things, and the team has added a much-needed ball distributor in the backcourt in No. 7 overall pick Stephen Curry. The meteoric development of summer-league star Anthony Randolph also is a reason for optimism in Oakland.

With two key big men -- Yao Ming and Shaquille O'Neal -- having been removed from the Western Conference playoff picture this season, the door appears open for another newcomer to follow in the footsteps of the Hornets, Nuggets and Trail Blazers the past two years.

With a healthy and happy Jackson, that could be the Warriors.

But what are the chances of that?

Nelson recognizes the enormity of the problem the franchise has on its hands.

"I'm never going to ask a guy to change. He's got to do that if he wants to," the coach said in the aftermath of the suspension.

"It's just like anything else from stopping to smoke cigarettes or drugs or anything else. If you don't want to do it yourself, nobody can do it for you. That's up to him."

If, as many expect, the Warriors' season goes up in smoke, it will be easy to identify the guy with the match.

COACHING STAFF: Head Coach -- Don Nelson, 31st year overall, 11th with Warriors (1,309-1,007). Assistants -- Keith Smart, Stephen Silas, Russell Turner, Scott Roth.

LAST SEASON, REMEMBERED: 29-53 (3rd in Pacific), did not make playoffs.

THIS SEASON, PREDICTED: 34-48 (4th in Pacific), no playoffs.

POSSIBLE CHANGES, PREDICTED: The Warriors have $11 million in expiring contracts they could package to acquire a difference-maker at the trade deadline, but what's the use if you're already light-years out of contention? Disgruntled Stephen Jackson is the most likely to be dealt by then, and continued poor behavior might give the Warriors no choice. Then again, sub-par play will lead to substandard trade offers, which will make a trade less likely. Don't be surprised if Don Nelson, who begins the season just 23 wins shy of Lenny Wilkens' all-time record, loses interest in babysitting this young group by March and decides it's time for the Keith Smart era to begin.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 20, 2009


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