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Nellie-Crawford Saga Continues To Amuse

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Don Nelson's unconventional decision to make Jamal Crawford a healthy scratch two weeks ago turned out not to be the main attraction in the pair's coach-player relationship after all.

Less than a week after rumors began to circulate about a private meeting between Nelson and Crawford before the benching in late February, the Golden State Warriors' coach spoke publicly with his version of events.

As the San Francisco Chronicle's Janny Hu reported, Nelson intimated that Crawford has no future with the team:

"I've always been very open and honest with my players and I did tell him he probably would either opt out or we would move him next year," Nelson said Wednesday, two days after refusing to go into specifics.

Nelson said he plans to move captain Stephen Jackson to the backcourt alongside Monta Ellis, leaving no room for Crawford as a starter. 

Nelson's honesty with his players remains refreshing.  As far as his request to this particular player is concerned, well, best of luck to ya, Nellie.

Quick Crawford refresher course: He shoots the ball with no conscience and often no thought to the wisdom of selection.  The guy puts up nearly five threes per game for his career, loves to go to the 35-foot heave in late-clock situations, still has a bit too many remnants of the schoolyard left in his game and posts a career true shooting mark below 52 percent.  He has averaged 20 points per game once in his career.  Rebounding (2.7 per game for his career) and guarding people are not his strong suits.

At one point last season, Crawford was the losingest active NBA player with more than 400 games played.  If he's managed to slip since, it can't have been too far, given that he's been with putrid Knicks and Warriors teams since then.

Picking up his option this summer would score him $9.36 million next season and $10.08 million the season after that.

Credit Crawford for the fact that he logs a lot of minutes and plays hard, says all the right things to the media, avoids off-court trouble and seems to be a good teammate.  At 6-foot-5, he has good size for a combo guard and can do a decent job spreading the ball on occasion.

Those are all good things.  But you would have to be insane to pay $19-plus million over two years for them along with Crawford's flaws.  As Hu notes, JC isn't likely to pull in more than a mid-level exception offer on the open market, which is less than $6 million per year.  Unless Crawford has some dream destination in mind for which he is willing to take a major cut, the simple math makes his opting out look laughably unlikely.

Back on the Nelson front, while his up-front approach with Crawford is honorable from an interpersonal standpoint, one can't help but wonder what type of impact it will have in Golden State going forward.  I'm not sure what suitors there are lining the streets to wait for a chance to pay Crawford his option money over the next two seasons.  I can only imagine what type of garbage contract Golden State will have to take back in order to dump Crawford, especially now that the league knows he is worth so little to Nelson. 

Further, if the Warriors aren't able to move Crawford in a timely fashion, Nellie is stuck with a guy he guaranteed has no future with the team.  Whereas Crawford has the talent to be a useful backup, human nature makes it reasonable to expect that he won't be too motivated to bust his tail to play his small part in the rotation (see: Harrington, Al). 

Don Nelson doesn't speak for Warriors managment, so perhaps his threat will be rendered empty after all.  For now, his suggestion to his player seems laughable and his honesty commendable and possibly harmful at the same time.

Nellieville: Where boredom never happens.