View Full Version : Nellie considering a comeback

02-02-2006, 10:41 AM
Multiple Nellie associates inform ESPN.com that the 65-year-old has dropped hints about considering other jobs after sitting out the rest of this season. It's highly unlikely that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would let Nelson go anywhere before next season anyway, and a couple of those same Nellie associates say a return to the bench won't happen unless someone out there offers him an annual salary of at least $5 million, but you can be pretty sure someone will in the off-season.

Reason being: There isn't a better coach on the planet who isn't working.

He's officially a Mavericks consultant these days, but Avery Johnson's Mavs don't consult Nelson for much. This is also the final season in which Nelson is earning $5 million, after which comes a drop to a more consultant-like $1 million (and change) but also more freedom to leave for a head-coaching spot, which is why a new gig would shock no one who knows him.

Media types in the Bay Area are already tossing out Nelson's name as an ideal successor to Mike Montgomery in Golden State, given that the Warriors haven't been to the playoffs since Nelson's last full season there in 1993-94. Nelson will also be mentioned as a candidate in Seattle -- barring the re-hiring of the recently promoted Bob Hill -- because of Nelson's longstanding friendship with Sonics general manager Rick Sund.

But I'm betting on Sacramento.

Nelson remains undeniably close with Warriors vice president Chris Mullin, but that alone isn't enough to legitimize the link. Team sources, for starters, insist that reports of friction between Montgomery and star guard Baron Davis are a media creation. Yet even if the Warriors continue to fade and miss the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season, Nelson can't be considered a serious contender to take over in Oaktown unless his relationship with Warriors owner Chris Cohan is mended. Don't forget that Cohan's messy 1995 parting with Nelson was not wrapped up until 1999, when an NBA arbirtator ruled that Nelson could keep $1.6 million that Cohan expected him to repay after Nelson was hired to coach the Knicks.

The Sonics? My suspicion -- endorsed by everyone I've presented it to -- is that Seattle won't be looking to hire a $5 million-a-year coach if Hill is not retained.

Which brings us to Sacramento, where Rick Adelman is in the final few months of his contract. If the Adelman era ends at season's end, as widely expected after a run of eight seasons, Nelson really is a natural successor there. For a few reasons.

1) As we said about the Lakers' Phil Jackson and Denver's George Karl, Nelson is sufficiently eccentric in his own right to have a shot at clicking with new Kings cornerstone Ron Artest.

2) Kings co-owner Joe and Gavin Maloof are undoubtedly willing to pay top dollar for coach, as evidenced by their not-so-secret attempt to hire Jackson before Phil returned to L.A.

3) Nelson is already working for the Maloofs. The madcap brothers own the production company that, with George Clooney as their producer, is putting together a basketball sitcom

Donnie Nelson, president of basketball operations for the Mavericks and Nellie's son, doesn't doubt that his dad's name will come up for several jobs. Noting that the starting-over Toronto Raptors just created a front-office opening, Donnie said: "Anybody looking for a coach or GM should have Nellie on their list. He's already built three franchises from the ground up."

The younger Nelson is quick to add, though, that he'll be lobbying his father to turn down any offer that comes, and not simply because he'd rather see Big Nellie -- who left Monday for a vacation in New Zealand -- stay with the Mavs as a Red Auerbach-style godfather.

"I would just ask him, 'How many more mountains can you climb?'" Donnie said. "He's the second-winningest coach of all-time. He's achieved pretty much everything there is to achieve as a player, coach and executive. If he asks me, for health reasons and everything else, I'd tell him, 'You don't need it.'"

If that speech doesn't work . . . Donnie can always throw out the ESPN.com NBA Coach Approval Ratings as another deterrent

I dont see why the Maloof's should let Adelman go,he's one hell of a coach,he just doesn't have anything to work with.
Besides,Defensive player of the year under Don Nelson?with out a doubt,an interesting watch.