View Full Version : Van Exel eady to suit up as a Warrior

10-06-2003, 11:35 PM
from SFGate.com

Laie, Hawaii -- Nick Van Exel gave up about $13 million to go to the Dallas Mavericks. To him, it was worth almost every penny.

Van Exel loved playing in such a potent offense. He loved that, in Dallas,

"I got a chance to be back in the NBA again'' after 3 1/2 seasons of struggle in Denver, even though he came off the bench behind All-Star point guard Steve Nash.

He loved how teammates did not argue in a game or practice -- "which is unbelievable,'' he said. And, most of all, he loved having a realistic chance to win a championship, which is why as part of his trade from the Nuggets to Dallas on Feb. 21, 2002, he agreed to make the last year of his seven-year, $77 million contract (2005-06) a team option.

"I left $13 or $14 million on the table so I can win basketball games,'' Van Exel said.

So when Van Exel, two months removed from a dazzling playoff run for a Western Conference finalist, learned that he had been traded to the team with the longest-active playoff drought in the NBA, he curbed his enthusiasm. His silence was not golden; he did not return calls from Warriors officials ("I haven't returned a call since I got in the league, whether it's Mark Cuban or Jerry West,'' he said) and never traveled from his offseason home in Houston to Oakland for an introductory news conference.

"How would you feel (about being dealt)? Answer that question,'' he said to a reporter, waiting for a response.

Van Exel, 31, answered several on his own -- ding, ding, ding as far as the Warriors are concerned, because, despite speculation that he wanted out before he was even in, the 10-year veteran said his outlook has changed. He has warmed to the idea of leading the revamped Warriors and playing for a coach, Eric Musselman, who figures to give him as much offensive freedom as he enjoyed under Dallas' Don Nelson.

"Right now, I'm good with it,'' said Van Exel, who, along with the other players with at least four years of NBA service, practiced for the first time Friday at the Cannon Activities Center on the campus of BYU-Hawaii.

"I wasn't disappointed by the fact that I got traded to Golden State,'' said Van Exel, speaking at length about becoming a Warrior for the first time since the nine-player trade Aug. 18. "I was more disappointed by the fact that I was closer to winning a championship in Dallas, not disappointed that I got sent here, because this is a pretty good opportunity because I get to start again and play a little bit more minutes. ... I'm not going to say I was doing back flips when I got traded, but I wasn't going to kill myself either.

"After looking at the situation and realizing that there are a lot worse places I could be at in the world other than an NBA player, this is a great opportunity for me. I'd love to go out here and try to get to where they want to be at.''

That would be the playoffs, which the Warriors have not reached since 1993-94, Van Exel's rookie season.

"It's motivation for me, but I feel that this team last year under Musselman, that they were sort of building themselves into something pretty good and something that the league was starting to look at,'' Van Exel said. "So I'm not looking at coming in and being a savior because those guys were doing this on their own last season. But with my help and the other veteran guys', I think we will all feel happy if we can do it.''

Van Exel shined in the playoffs last season, scoring at least 35 points three times and, in what he called some of the best basketball of his career, averaging a team-high 25.3 points in the seven-game series against Sacramento in the conference semifinals.

Warriors special assistant Chris Mullin finds similarities between Van Exel and former teammate Tim Hardaway. Van Exel constantly pressures a defense and relishes having the ball in crunch time, just as Hardaway did in his prime.

"He's always got something going where you have to pay attention to him, '' Mullin said. "When the guy with the ball in his hands has the ability to shoot a 3, has the mid-range game and is a pretty good passer, that's someone who you can play with.

"He's going to love playing for Eric. The guy's got the green light -- I don't know any guy who doesn't want to hear that. That's a pretty good way to get things going.''

How long will things last? Van Exel can opt out of his contract after the season, which would mean walking away from a guaranteed $11.8 million in 2004- 05. Warriors officials have said it's premature to talk about once again guaranteeing the last year of his deal.

Van Exel is keeping an open mind about his future with the Warriors.

"I would love to be a Warrior'' long term, Van Exel said. "I want to be somewhere where that team wants me. Golden State traded for me, so that shows that it has interest in me as a basketball player. That in itself makes it a good deal. If they came to me and everything was right, of course I'd love to play for Golden State.''

E-mail Brad Weinstein at bweinstein@sfchronicle.com.

10-06-2003, 11:59 PM
I bet he has a decent year.

10-07-2003, 01:01 AM
i'd hate to be his teammate in golden state.

10-07-2003, 02:40 AM
He loved how teammates did not argue in a game or practice -- "which is unbelievable,'' he said.
I like that quote.

10-07-2003, 07:27 AM
He'll do great in Oakland. He is their main man now, I wonder how the Van Exel/JRich tandem will look...

10-07-2003, 08:10 AM
I wish Nick the very best.

10-08-2003, 10:29 AM
Van Exel played 29 minutes last night and shot 2-10 for 4 points. Sometimes he plays great and sometimes he lays an egg. I don't miss performances like that at all. I think that Travis Best will fill in for him just fine. It is funny how the national media seems to dismiss Dallas now that he is gone.

Go, Mavs!!!

Tony tha Mavs fan
10-08-2003, 10:53 AM

10-08-2003, 10:36 PM
It is funny how the national media seems to dismiss Dallas now that he is gone.

Funny...I can't remember a time when Dallas wasn't dismissed by the national media even with Van Exel.

10-09-2003, 12:02 AM
Van Exel is older, gentler now

Tim Kawakami
Mercury News Staff Columnist

HONOLULU - He used to be young and ready to overthrow the world, and now Nick Van Exel melts into a poolside chair, letting the tropical sun burn away his headache.

He looks like he's talking in his sleep, but no. He's awake and sagely addressing his quixotic, anarchic NBA career and the trade that brought him from Dallas to the Warriors a couple of months ago.

``Just more laid back now,'' Van Exel said during a break in training camp in Hawaii, where the Warriors opened their exhibition season against the Los Angeles Lakers late Tuesday night. ``I understand how this business is run. I know players don't run the league.''

As he spoke, Van Exel leaned so far back in his chair that I didn't know whether he wanted to topple over backward or re-enact Fredo Corleone's final, exhausted confrontation with Michael in ``Godfather II.'' But there was no doubting the body language. Although he has campaigned for trades in the past (most notably during his three-plus seasons in Denver), he is not posturing for a change of scenery. He is quietly accepting, for now, his role as the Warriors' starting point guard and potential midseason trade bait.

He thought he might win a championship with Dallas, but he's trying to make the best of his new job. And if that means playing so well that the Warriors either guarantee his $12.9 million option for 2005-06 or trade him to a title contender, well, all the better.

``It really wouldn't make sense to cause trouble,'' Van Exel said. ``In Denver, I went public with wanting a trade. That was the kind of comment that can get people mad. . . .

``Everybody's going to make judgments about me because of the things I've done in the past. That's expected. I've learned to deal with that.''

He's 31, a 10-year NBA veteran, and he's not Nick Van Exit any more.

He's still a fighter, still swaggers through defenses with more guts than speed, still plays with a chip on his shoulder about being ignored in the first round of the 1993 draft.

But at this stage in his life and career, what he's fighting hardest is his reputation as a problem player.

``I'm always going to fight; you know, back against the wall, so many people thinking you're this person, that you're that person,'' Van Exel said. ``It's mainly negative because they don't know you as an individual.

``But my teammates know and people close to me know that if I'm on your side, I'm on your side 100 percent.''

Isn't his back against the wall now, having been traded against his will to a team that hasn't been to the playoffs for nine seasons and just lost Gilbert Arenas?

``Not really -- I'm looking at this situation as being a positive situation, being with somebody who wants you,'' Van Exel said, pointing out how helpful he could be passing to Jason Richardson, Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy. ``And looking at it as trying to help this situation get better. It was getting better last year; now we want to keep improving.''

Warriors Coach Eric Musselman downplays the repeated phone calls he made to Van Exel this summer that went unreturned. Musselman said Van Exel has come to camp ready to be a teammate and floor leader.

``He's easy to talk to -- I really like him,'' Musselman said. ``I don't think I'll have a problem with him. He's come in, he's acted like a professional, he's acted like he wants to be here.''

Van Exel was a model citizen for his season and a half as Dallas' dangerous sixth man: He accepted his reserve role, volunteered to drop the guarantee on his 2005-06 contract, starred in the playoffs and befriended his teammates.

Then Dallas traded him to the Warriors in a nine-player deal, and Van Exel's the volatile guy?

``We kind of knew something would happen,'' Van Exel said of his summertime conversations with Mavericks swingman Michael Finley. They saw other Western Conference powers make big trades and figured Dallas would follow suit ``because if somebody is doing something, they feel they have to do something,'' Van Exel said. ``It's monkey see, monkey do.''

Van Exel said he has major regrets about only two controversies: his prolonged spats with then-coach Del Harris when Van Exel was a Laker, and his infamous shove of referee Ronnie Garretson, for which he was suspended seven games in 1996.

``Those are the two biggest incidents I'd definitely like to take back,'' said Van Exel, who added that his reconciliation with Harris (now a key Dallas assistant) is something he cherishes.

But Van Exel is never going to be boring. When Terrell Owens is brought up as a kindred spirit, Van Exel launches into a long soliloquy of support for the controversial 49ers star.

``Yeah, people always say they want you to tell the truth -- that's all that matters, the truth,'' Van Exel said. ``And then if you do, they get upset about it because maybe it's not what they want to hear. They think you're causing trouble.

``I know that's happened to me, because I say what I'm thinking. And when I see Terrell, I think it's the same thing. We both want to win so bad. When you win, everything's great. When you lose, it's terrible.''

But Van Exel said this with a serene tone. He identifies with Owens' ability to create migraines, not because Van Exel does those things now but because he used to.

Now, he likes to sit in the sun, lay back his head, and let the headache go away.

Dirk Nowitzki
10-09-2003, 12:46 AM
I Personaly hope he get traded to the Knicks. He has stated he would love to play for NY & I think he would recieve the same praise Spree did in his time in NY.

10-09-2003, 08:20 AM
thank you for highlighting that Mavsfanfinley

it makes NVE look like a total idiot if he thinks the trade was "monkey see, monkey do".

Does he not realize that the mavs just got much better by moving him? Obviously, he thinks entirely too highly of himself.

The mavs needed to get better and by moving his moronic ass, they did.