Monday , Jul , 09 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Don Nelson’s Salary Conflict Compromises Chris Mullin & Golden State Warriors

Don Nelson, the eccentric, is back, demanding a raise for last year’s playoff run … How should the Warriors feel about his request to renegotiate? … Didn’t the club rescue Nelson from the coaching scrap-heap last summer? … Click here for news and analysis …

Janny Hu reports on coach Don Nelson seeking a pay raise from the Warriors:

Player contracts won’t be the only things the Warriors are negotiating this summer. The anticipated meeting between Warriors President Robert Rowell and John O’Connor, the representative for coach Don Nelson, took place last week, and Nelson indeed is seeking a significant pay raise to return to the team, according to league sources.

The 67-year-old coach has two years and $6.2 million left on his contract, and he can almost double his salary through playoff-related incentives. The sources said Nelson wants those bonuses to be guaranteed, bringing his annual salary to about $6 million.

Nelson declined to discuss the issue, saying that his contract was up to O’Connor and Rowell to handle. Reached by phone late Sunday, O’Connor said his client still hadn’t made up his mind about next season.

"All I will say is that Don is very conflicted," O’Connor said. "He is extremely excited about this team, but at the same time, he exhausted himself this last season like he has never done before."

Although Nelson’s base salary of $3.1 million ranks in the bottom half of the league, he took home an extra $1 million last season for ending the Warriors’ 12-season playoff drought, then earned another $1 million for advancing to the Western Conference semifinals.

Still, he wouldn’t commit to coming back after Golden State’s postseason ended in May, citing health and lifestyle concerns. Nelson said he would return to Maui and unwind before making any decisions; he remains undecided even after helping orchestrate the Warriors’ draft-day moves and being on hand for the summer league.

My Quick Take: Don Nelson is a mad scientist masquerading as an NBA coach. He should wear a lab coat when sitting on ‘s bench.

Nelson, like all mad scientists, has a positive and a negative side. The positive is simple. The veteran coach has a refreshing philosophy. He actively searches for mismatches, hoping to bait opponents into a fast-paced, entertaining game.

Sound familiar Avery Johnson?

Nelson is also engaging. He clicks with players and fans. His personality is a breath of fresh air when compared to most ‘Type A’ sideline bosses.

The positives outweigh the negatives. By a mile.

But Nelson’s negative side occasionally gets him in trouble. There was the beef. The , Nellie’s former employer, are currently suing him for breaking a confidentiality agreement. The Warriors even sued Nelson when he left in the 1990’s to coach the .

Most people overlook these indiscretions because they like the mad scientist. This includes Chris Mullin. The Warriors’ GM took a major risk by firing Mike Montgomery as coach and hiring Nelson as his replacement last August.

Remember, last August, the mad scientist wasn’t mad. He was retired. NBA teams weren’t interested in his on-court experiments.

Mullin threw his friend a giant life jacket, helping the coach who helped him so many years ago. It was the NBA’s version of pay it forward.

The risk paid off. Golden State made the playoffs for the first time in twelve years, creating the ‘We Believe’ sensation. The Warriors then upset the Mavericks. They were the first #8 seed to beat the  #1seed in a best of seven series.

How does Nelson repay the friend and organization that gave him another chance? He hints at retiring unless he gets a raise on his annual salary of 3 million dollars.

He’s under contract. The wage and terms are fair. Nelson shouldn’t ask the club to renegotiate. The likable scientist has a negative side. It rarely appears. When it does, it’s not pretty. 

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