Q&A: Tim Kawakmi from the San Jose Mercury 1/13/08 (Part 2 of 5)

In the first part of our ongoing Q&A with Tim we covered whether the Warriors would be active at this year's trading deadline. Tim did a follow up on his blog that's more than worth the cost of a click: Villanueva, Randolph (no way), Noah (hmm): My list of Warriors' potential next moves

In our second part we have Tim's thoughts on whether Baron Davis can hold up playing such heavy minutes and Stephen Jackson's specialness and erraticness.

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Golden State of Mind: Can Baron hold up an entire season playing 40+ minutes a night? Is Don Nelson running full speed into disaster by not playing deeper into his bench or does he simply have no choice given injuries and raw rookies?

Tim Kawakami: You know how coaches--and Nelson more than most--"coach the score" during games? They keep their main starters out for as long as the other guys keep the lead relatively safe, then immediately jam them back out there if the game is back in jeopardy? I think that's inevitably what Nelson's going to do with Baron--but he'll "coach the playoff race," instead.

He may say he has to get Baron down to 34-36 minutes. Heck, he said 28-30 before the season, if I remember correctly--and it was me he said it to, so I hope I remember correctly. But Don says a lot of things, means them when he says them, but the pressure to get that 6th, 7th or 8th spot is always on his mind. He brings it up constantly--how many wins will it take? Can he get there going young? Do they have to make a move to get in there?

I think Nelson has to get his younger players in there, to save Baron's legs for sure, but also because this team won't get any better than it is now without adding an inside presence, and the best option is Brandan Wright. But, of course, the Warriors might lose a game or three if Nellie forces Wright in there--which is why he started playing him a little while ago and then stopped.

Nellie knows he's running the high-wire with Baron's legs by going 39-44 minutes a night with him. He knows he should be playing Wright more--just to see what he has and if Wright can turn into something by April--and maybe even Belinelli at some point.

But he's coaching the race. Maybe in this next semi-soft eight- or nine-game run, if the Warriors go 7-2 or 8-1, that'll get Nellie the space he needs to think about letting Baron take it easy or getting Wright into the rotation. Not until then, no matter what Nellie says, however. That's my guess.


Golden State of Mind: What's going on with Stephen Jackson? He seems to be pressing more than usual with even worse shot selection and poor passing. He's not the leader we saw earlier in the season. In fact, he sure is complaining to the refs more frequently than before. Are all the minutes getting to him and he's just tiring out? Is he reverting back to the Stephen Jackson that Indiana wanted so desperately to get rid of? Or is this just a slump that he or Nellie will shake him out of? What's going on with one of our tri-captains?

Tim Kawakami: It'd be nice for Warriors fans and for Nellie and Chris Mullin, and probably nice for Jackson himself if we could all just write it down in ink: Good steady game, every night, no blow-ups, sustained focus, night after night after night.

Not gonna happen. You just have to realize that with Jackson. Part of his fire and his specialness, I believe, comes from his erraticness--opponents don't know what the hell to expect from him, either, and I believe many of them are sort of intimidated by him. Because he can be nutty. Nutty in a good way, I firmly believe, but always nutty and nutty sometimes means he's loco for an entire game or two.

That's how the Warriors got him--Indiana thought he was too crazy to keep. Liked him as a player, couldn't tolerate the extras. The Warriors have decided to accept the extras, as long as SJax doesn't get into any more trouble with the law or get suspended any further.

But remember when the Warriors were the ones who got intimidated by other team's crazies? SJax is an intimidator, and he's crazy, and he has been a little bonus crazy of late--he says it's tired legs. He might be right. He's never been counted on like this in his whole NBA career... never had a college career... so maybe he has to make an adjustment physically and emotionally to his new role.

I think he can do it. Jackson is never going to be a 48% shooter or low-risk passer. But he knows that, too, and still has the gumption to keep running out there, keep shooting, keep running... That's a winning player, in my book. Even if he goes off the deep end a few times in January, I'll bet he's there for the Warriors every step of the way in March and April.

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Here's a look back at some of the other Q&A's we've done with Tim:

Three more parts to go!

Can BD hold up playing so many minutes? What explains Jack's recent mini-struggles?

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