Warriors Will Have Real Trouble If Nelson Agrees With Ellis
Not only were Ellis' comments a shot at Curry, whom the Warriors selected with the No. 7 pick in the June draft, but he also seemed to be sending a clear message to Nelson. What Ellis essentially said was that the strategy Nelson was planning on employing this season was destined to fail.
And to a larger extent, it very well may have come across to Nelson, entering his 31st year of coaching in the NBA, as a slap at his offensive philosophy, of which small ball is a significant part.
Nelson is known to be sensitive when it comes to criticism, and it's not too much of a stretch to think he's none too pleased about Ellis' comments. Regardless of how he might downplay them publicly.
Although Ellis, Nelson and many in the Warriors' organization have downplayed any tension or acrimony between the player and coach, it clearly exists. Something apparently was already amiss because, after all, Nelson and general manager Larry Riley met with Ellis before the draft to "get on the same page."
From the moment Nelson returned to the Warriors in 2006, he has steadfastly maintained that Ellis needs to be a point guard to reach his potential as a player. Ellis, on the hand, has consistently balked at being classified as only a point guard. He is almost always emphatic when he says: "I'm a guard."
Over the course of the past few years, Nelson has emphasized the need for Ellis to improve his ballhandling, decision-making, playmaking and leadership. On the other hand, Nelson already has heaped more praise on Curry, who has yet to play an NBA game, for those abilities than he has Ellis.
At the end of last season, Nelson said decision-making was one of the team's biggest weaknesses. On Friday, when asked how the decision-making was going to improve in 2009-10, he cited the addition of Curry, whom Nelson said was a good passer and smart player.
Here's the point ... Nelson has never been afraid to coach a team the way he sees fit regardless of whether or not it might bring along some controversy. Nelson didn't give in to Al Harrington and he didn't give in to rookie Anthony Randolph, either.
It wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility for Nelson to come to the conclusion that Ellis is right, and that you can't play two smallish guards together.
Just don't be surprised if the small guard who plays is Curry.