Rowell talks futures of Nelson, Jackson

Updated: November 16, 2009, 5:39 PM ET
By Ric Bucher | ESPN The Magazine

Golden State Warriors president Robert Rowell addressed several topics of contention surrounding the franchise Sunday night, including the removal of Don Nelson as head coach.

"I haven't had one discussion about that at all," Rowell said. "It hasn't even crossed my mind. He just signed a two-year extension and I expect him to be our coach for the next two years."

A report last week had an unidentified source saying Nelson could be removed as coach as early as this week, the only question being whether he would be fired altogether or moved into a front-office consultant's role. Assistant coach Keith Smart was identified as his successor.

Nelson has publicly clashed with both Stephen Jackson and Monta Ellis this season. The latter is a team captain and Rowell said, despite trade rumors, the team is committed to him as part of its future core. Jackson relinquished his captaincy after his preseason shouting match with Nelson and subsequent two-game suspension.

"We've got a little hiccup here," Rowell said, "but I don't think we're taking a step back."

Referring to injuries to both Andris Biedrins and Ronny Turiaf, Rowell added, "I'd say our problems have a lot more to do with not having a healthy center than anything else."

Jackson demanded to be traded this summer after signing a three-year, $28 million extension a year ago. Sources say he was told the team would look to add "a big name player" and was excited that the Warriors tried to acquire Suns power forward Amare Stoudemire in a draft-night deal last June.

"They made promises and didn't keep them," Jackson said. "I just believe they're more interested in selling tickets than winning. And I'll leave it at that."

Jackson joined the Warriors along with Al Harrington in a midseason deal two years ago with the Indiana Pacers after Indianapolis fans refused to forgive his part in the infamous 2005 brawl with fans in Detroit. Only months later, he was instrumental in the Warriors' electric first-round upset of the No. 1 seeded Mavericks and has done countless community appearances in the Bay Area.

"We put in a lot of time, money and resources to help him rebuild his reputation," Rowell said. "I have a lot of respect for the work he put into it, on and off the court. I did take a vested interest in signing him to an extension. We told him we'd look to make this team better, but we never talked about trading the pick or acquiring a big. He knew the landscape. He sat there and told everybody this is where he wanted to be and was up to the challenge. In the end, we were duped."

The team is committed to fulfilling Jackson's request but Rowell said they will not negotiate a buyout. "No need to do that," Rowell said. "I don't want anybody here who doesn't want to be here. We just want to make a deal so the team gets better and doesn't go backward."

Ric Bucher covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine.

Ric Bucher

NBA Reporter, ESPN The Magazine Senior Writer

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