Jamal Crawford Benched as Don Nelson Plans for the Future
Despite the fact that Golden State's backcourt is already short-handed -- Monta Ellis (ankle) has already missed one game and will likely miss several more -- Nelson decided that tonight is a good time to begin randomly benching veterans in order to give younger players more playing time. C.J. Watson is expected to start, and Anthony Morrow and Marco Bellinelli should see a few more minutes, as well.
In addition to missing Ellis, the team is still without Brandon Wright (shoulder) and practiced without both Stephen Jackson, who had emergency dental work on Thursday, and Corey Maggette, who received treatment for a sprained hand. If Nelson is serious about winning, it just doesn't make sense to pick this game to sit Crawford, the team's third-leading scorer at 19.0 points per game.
Call me a cynic, but the timing makes me wonder if Nelson is already looking ahead to the lottery. The Warriors (20-37) aren't a very good team, but even without Ellis they'd certainly have a fighting chance to beat the lowly Bobcats (23-35), right? Rather than risk that, it seems like Nelson figured he may as well shoot his team's chances to win in the foot right now.
Also interesting: Crawford can has the option of walking away from the final two years of his contract at the end of the season. Is Nelson jerking him around in hopes of convincing him to leave to create some cap space? It's a possibility, although it's worth mentioning that other veterans will be getting the same treatment in the near future -- Matt Steinmetz of Examiner.com reports Stephen Jackson will sit on Sunday against the Jazz followed by Andris Biedrins a week from today in Pistons.