Warriors coach Nelson says he's honored to get extension
Golden State Warriors coach Don Nelson has agreed to a two-year contract extension with the club, the coach confirmed Saturday.
"It wasn't my idea," Nelson said, according to the San Jose Mercury News. "It was fine with me to weigh it year to year. But they came to me and wanted me to commit to three years and, uh, I'm pretty excited about it. It's quite an honor really to be wanted. At my age, you're lucky if anybody wants you. Hopefully your wife."
Sources told both the Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle that the deal, which Nelson has yet to sign, is worth $12 million -- some of it deferred money.
A new deal for Nelson, however, only figures to increase the uncertainty surrounding Warriors vice president of basketball operations Chris Mullin, amid growing suspicion in front-office circles that Mullin won't be retained beyond this season. Mullin's contract, like Nelson's, expires at season's end.
However, Nelson said Saturday he has no interest in filling both the coach and GM roles if Mullin departs.
"No. No. Don't want to be. No," Nelson said, according to the Mercury News. "I'm not interested in general manager, or coach and general manager, or anything else. I'll support Mully the whole way. I hope he gets his deal done as well. I love working with Mully. I'm a coach. Period."
Before Nelson's return to the Warriors in the summer of 2006, they were carrying the league's longest playoff drought, spanning 12 seasons, dating back to Nelson's most recent full season in Oakland in 1993-94. The Warriors went 42-40 in 2006-07 under Nelson, upset the 67-win Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs and then became one of the most successful non-playoff teams in league history last season with a record of 48-34, better than all but three teams in the Eastern Conference.
It is not known precisely how much longer Nelson wants to coach, with his 69th birthday looming in May, but sources close to the situation insist to ESPN.com that he has shown no interest in leaving the profession.
Although Nelson acknowledged in a group interview session earlier this week that "an ass-kicking veteran team that would have a chance to win a title is what I deserve at 68," he has also spoken optimistically of a young core headlined by Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins. Sources say Nelson won't be discouraged if the Warriors struggle as expected this season without Baron Davis and with Ellis expected to be sidelined well into December.
Among his motivations to coach on, Nelson has been unable to win a championship as a coach after winning five rings as a player with the Boston Celtics, but he sits just 53 regular-season victories shy of passing Lenny Wilkens as the winningest coach in NBA history. Nelson realistically won't have a shot at nudging past Wilkens until the 2009-10 season even if the Warriors exceed expectations.
Information from ESPN.com's Marc Stein was used in this report.