Recent success nets Nelson two-year extension with Warriors
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors signed Don Nelson to a contract extension Wednesday, hours before the veteran coach opened his 30th NBA season against New Orleans.
The club refused to divulge terms of the deal, but Nelson said last weekend he had all but agreed to a two-year extension to his current deal, which expires after this season. Nelson also said the financial terms were roughly the same as those in his first contract, meaning he'll make roughly $12 million in the new deal.
"Thanks to the Warriors for having faith in me," Nelson said before Golden State took the court against Chris Paul and the Hornets. "It's not taken lightly by me, I assure you of that. I'll try to coach well."
The 68-year-old coach is 1,280-954, trailing only Lenny Wilkens in career NBA victories. Nelson's new contract almost certainly will allow him to surpass Wilkens' 1,332 wins, but the thought doesn't exactly thrill Nellie.
"He'll always deserve it, as far as I'm concerned," Nelson said of Wilkens, his good friend. "I hope I never get the record. Let's bring him back for a couple of years and let him coach a good team and get another 100 wins. That would make me happy."
Nelson has plenty of worries to handle before then, including top basketball executive Chris Mullin's shaky relationship with ownership, a roster that lacks a proven point guard -- and now an unhappy starting forward. Al Harrington publicly reiterated a trade request that he made to Warriors management during the offseason.
Nelson still kept Harrington in his starting lineup against New Orleans, and he has no plans to curtail Harrington's playing time while the club considers the possibility of a trade.
"I think he felt he was played inconsistently last year, and he wanted to be on the floor more," Nelson said. "I told him, 'I don't think that will be a problem this year. You'll be begging me to come out.' He'll be on the floor a lot."
Despite the problems, Nelson seems content to finish his lengthy coaching career by the Bay, a relatively short flight from his offseason home in Maui.
After stints with Milwaukee, Golden State, New York and Dallas, Nelson rejoined the Warriors in 2006 and immediately led the club to its first playoff appearance in 13 years and a stunning first-round upset of the Mavericks. Nelson followed with a 48-win season last spring, Golden State's best record since 1994 and the NBA's best record for a non-playoff team in 25 years.
Mullin, who played for Nelson during the coach's first stint with Golden State, signed his mentor in 2006, and they've worked together well. But Mullin appears to be on shaky ground with the franchise in recent weeks while president Robert Rowell asserted his authority in Mullin's responsibilities.
Rowell disagreed with Mullin during the summer on a contract extension for Baron Davis and a punishment for guard Monta Ellis, who is suspended without pay until early December after injuring his leg in a motorized scooter accident. In both cases, Rowell got his way over Mullin, who's widely thought to be finished with the club after his contract ends next spring.
"We're elated that Don has elected to sign an extension," Rowell said. "He has proven to be one of the most successful and innovative coaches in the history of our game, and his continued presence on the sidelines is certainly a prominent asset for our team and organization. Our fans and players enjoy his entertaining style, and we all look forward to the day he establishes the NBA's all-time wins record for a coach."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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