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Q&A: Tim Kawakami (Mercury)- End of 2008-2009 GSW Season (Part 1 of 2)

There's no one more actively and passionately blogging about the Golden State Warriors than Tim Kawakami right now. There is no offseason for this man. Don't believe me? Check it out.

Pointed analysis of Bay Area sports.

Jump for the first part of our end of the Warriors season Q&A with Tim.

Atma Brother #1 (Golden State of Mind): It has only been 2 seasons since that unbelievable run in the spring of 2007 for the Warriors. In such a short time they have fallen far and even the biggest homers (fans or Warriors employees) have to realize that it is going to be incredibly difficult if not near impossible for the Warriors to crack the West's top 8 next season, let alone win a round in the playoffs. Essentially to get younger, avoid the luxury tax, and build around Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins, the Warriors blew up the ship by trading away Jason Richardson and letting Baron Davis, Mickael Pietrus, and Matt Barnes depart via free agency. Al Harrington was also traded, but that seemed to be a result of him refusing to show up and his beef with Coach Don Nelson. After finally making the playoffs after 12 straight misses and fielding what was commonly regarded as the most entertaining team in the league, was it worth it? Do you think the big names in the Warriors hierarchy (Chris Cohan, Robert Rowell, Chris Mullin, and Don Nelson) have any specific regrets about those trades and departures after a season in which they failed to win 30 games?

Tim Kawakami: All those things happened. The results were the results. So it can seem like it was a plan. But I'm going to disagree: These things, put together, were not planned. It was pure, classic Warriors ad-hoc decision-making, with the plan changing every time depending on who was making the call (Mullin? Rowell? Nelson?), how much money was involved, and what was deemed wisest at that moment.

I mean, you can't really see a coherent plan if the Warriors were single-mindedly shedding money by trading Richardson and letting Baron, Barnes and Pietrus go... then threw $50M at Corey Maggette and $27M to Stephen Jackson, in addition to the two years he was already signed for.

That is not a plan. That's ad-hoc semi-panicked multi-agenda decision-making, generally designed to field a team that fans will pay to see and also stay well under the luxury tax. All layered by different agendas.

Was it worth it? It'll all depend on three things, I think (not counting the Nelson drama):

-Will Ellis and Biedrins be worth the long-term money? If they turn into near-All-Stars by next year or two, then this is probably going to be a decent team for a while. If they're not, then this team is in money trouble.

-How good will Anthony Randolph be? He could cover up a lot of problems. Or he could be just another decent player who helps, but doesn't lift the team. We'll see. A key, key player who might be the best one.

-Can they get a point guard to play alongside Ellis? I've been yammering about that one for a while now--it's a tough profile, I admit. Ellis can't guard the big guys, but he has to play the two on offense. So you need a smart point guard who can guard twos... and that is not easy to find. Baron was one of them. I thought Jamal Crawford might sort of be another. But he wasn't.

If two or all of those questions are answered successfully, then I don't think Rowell will have any regrets for anything that happened, though I guess he ridiculously now claims he was always against the Richardson trade. Yeah, he sure took his sweet time getting around to that conclusion.

Rowell was moving away from Mullin, anyway. As far as Nelson, I won't guess at his regrets.


Atma Brother #1 (Golden State of Mind): Are the Warriors convinced that Andris Biedrins, Monta Ellis, Brandan Wright, Marco Belinelli, Anthony Randolph, and Anthony Morrow are a solid young core that will propel this team to become a playoff mainstay and a force to be reckoned with? Do you think they are simply content to let these players develop and see how it goes? Which if any of these young players will they be looking to move this summer?

Tim Kawakami: That question presumes there is a single "Warriors" mentality. Which I do not believe exists, or at least not until Cohan and Rowell anoint a GM. And even then, you have Nelson, who always has his own thoughts and controls the playing time.

Do I think management generally likes its young pieces? Yes, the Warriors always love their young pieces. Every year for the last decade or more, all we've heard is that they love their young pieces. If Randolph explodes, then they will be correct this time.

If it's up to Nelson, and I think a lot of it will be, I'd assume Brandan Wright and Belinelli are heavily shopped, though I can't imagine there's a big market for either.


Atma Brother #1 (Golden State of Mind): Many folks have been very critical of the job Don Nelson did this past season. You fairly openly called for his firing and questioned many of his moves. Which coaches if any could have done better with this roster given the injuries and other excuses by the organization (legitimate or exaggerated) this past season? Could any other coach have led this squad to the 2009 NBA Playoffs?

Tim Kawakami: Hmm, was this question written by Don? By Lucky?

I know, I know, I'm so darned unfair. I expect coaches to concentrate on defense and not play trick offensive systems if the roster is suited to play standard line-ups and not freeze out talented young big men and not try to force Jamal Crawford to use his opt-out to leave.

I threw out Mike D'Antoni's name when Phoenix made him available last spring and guess what, he was available. I'd take him over just about anybody. I think D'Antoni would've been interested--if the Warriors could've made their move before the Knicks jumped in, but the Warriors almost never make moves like that.

Until a few weeks ago, Flip Saunders was available. I would've taken him. Eddie Jordan, too. I know everybody here loves running basketball, so maybe Jeff Van Gundy is out, but I'd think he's going to coach again and he'll get that team playing defense.

Make the playoffs this year? Nobody could've done that after losing Baron and after Ellis got hurt. I don't think that's the point. The point is finding a coach who is best for the roster and best for the long-term, and once Baron was gone, I don't think Nelson was that guy.


Stay tuned for the next installment of our Q&A with Tim!

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