Al Harrington

NBA Tuesday: Nellie dug his own grave

I was one of the eight people who watched the Warriors/Grizzlies game last night, and one sequence told you everything you need to know about the 2008/09 Golden State Warriors.

Ronny Turiaf was guarding Marc Gasol on the left block, and Memphis passed the ball to either Rudy Gay or O.J. Mayo (I can’t remember, and shockingly I didn’t tape this game). Turiaf came up to double the man with the ball, a clearly planned defensive rotation that should have been followed by Tony Randolph (who was completely out to lunch last night on several occasions) rotating over and guarding Gasol.

Randolph didn’t move at all, and Gay/Mayo (which I think they sell in San Francisco at the Gay Deli) passed to Gasol for an easy dunk. Turiaf was furious, pounding the ball into the floor and looking with disdain toward Randolph.

Two plays later Randolph dribbled the ball to halfcourt and stood there with the ball out, leading to an easy steal and dunk by Mike Conley with about 9 seconds left in the third quarter. Randolph pouted for a while on the baseline before inbounding to Jamal “Screw you guys, I’m shooting” Crawford, who dribbled upcourt and gunned an airball three with four seconds remaining, with Kelenna Azubuike getting called for a loose-ball foul in the process. Turiaf could not have looked more frustrated.

Randolph’s mental lapses can be forgiven due to his age and how he never gives up on a play (case in point: when he had the ball stolen in the paint and raced the length of the court to block a Gay layup into Gay, leading to a Memphis turnover). Crawford should not be on the floor, and wouldn’t be if the Warriors weren’t missing six players due to injury.

Geoff Lepper brought up the question of whether the Warriors should have just bought out Al Harrington 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.

Don Nelson knows this, which is why he asked/told Crawford to opt out of his contract at the end of this season and benched him for six consecutive games. Here’s the problem: Nelson traded for him! Anybody who thinks Chris Mullin engineered the trade for Crawford also thinks The Hills and Stephen Jackson’s teeth are real. Nellie got the Warriors into this mess, and now he knows that in this economic climate, Crawford surely won’t opt out. As a result, there’s no way Nellie can rid his team of the increasingly disgruntled shooting guard, and the Warriors are looking less happy by the minute.

So if you’re Nellie, what’s the solution? Tell the Warriors to stick a foot underneath Crawford every time he shoots, in hopes that he’ll sprain his ankle or wreck his knee so badly he’ll have to retire? Infect him with the Ebola Virus? Trade him after to the season for another overpaid player with a bigger and longer contract than Crawford’s two years and $20M? It’s impossible to think of a solid answer to this situation, especially now that Isiah Thomas is no longer a GM in the NBA. The only certainty is that with Crawford on the court gunning away, the Warriors will look more and more like a team that wished the season ended a month ago.

Warriors Week That Was (0-3: L’s @ Dallas, @ Denver and vs. Memphis)

Stephen Jackson underwent surgery today to remove bone fragments from his left big toe. . . Bob Fitzgerald said on “Fitz and Brooks” yesterday that Brandan Wright will probably not return this season due to his shoulder injury. . . In eight games since returning from injury Wright had 9.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.9 spg and 1.1 bpg while playing about 20 minutes per contest. Can’t help but think if the guy can stay healthy he’d be a top-15 power forward, but that’s a big “if” . . Andris Biedrins will miss at least another week, according to the CC Times. . . Marco Belinelli saw the doctor on Monday as well, although it seems like everyone has been seeing him around The City lately. . . Corey Maggette is currently suffering from a head contusion or something. . . Anthony Morrow is shooting 47.9% from the field this year, and 49.3% from three-point land. . . This isn’t really a stat but a question: why is Rob Kurz still on this team (besides the fact he’s a healthy body at a time the team can only suit up eight players a night)? Can’t the Warriors, who’ve been masters at mining the NBDL for talent, come up with somebody better? . . . In March (15 games) Randolph is averaging 23 mpg, 9.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 0.7 spg and 2.0 bpg while shooting 51% from the field. . . Nelson says he’ll stick around for two more years before retiring, for those of you who put stock in what Nellie tells the media. . . Bill Simmons finally explained his thoughts on Randolph after teasing the fanbase, and gave a pretty cogent analysis of Randolphs allure, including this passage: He’s like a cross between Josh Smith and Lamar Odom, only if you fed him 10 Red Bulls and told him right before the game, “If you can make 10 things happen during the 10 minutes you play tonight, we will quadruple your salary and you will start for the rest of the season” … and then he does just that, but the coach reneges on the promise so Anthony has a near-crying meltdown on the bench. . . Too bad Simmons says this afterwards: For some reason, the only media member who seems to care is Tim Kawakami. I don’t get it. If I were a Warriors fan, I would be organizing protests outside the arena complaining about Randolph’s playing time. It’s insane. I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again: Leave Randolph alone, Simmons. I saw him  first. And the fact that you think Kawakami is the only one who cares (and the fact that Kawakami is the only Bay Area writer you ever, ever mention) shows your ignorance. I don’t expect you to read BASG (yet). I know you may be upset that there’s another “Sports Guy” out there, and that not every sports guy mentions The Karate Kid or Boogie Nights every hundred words, but don’t say Kawakami is the only one who cares about Randolph. Kawakami cares about getting attention, page views and “Razor and Mr. T” guest-hosting appearances. There are plenty of Randolph supporters around here who’ve been baffled at his treatment all season, not just writers you’re friendly with.

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