Sadly, it's time to pull the plug now on coach Don Nelson.
Nelson, 69, is just 11 victories away from becoming the winningest coach in NBA history – he has 1,322 -- but at this rate, the woeful Warriors might take another two years to get him there.
There is no reason to wait, no reason to torture the Bay area faithful any longer. They won 29 games last season. They will be lucky to win 20 this season. They are a team wrecked by injuries, and left vulnerable by the way he helped construct them.
As he slowly marches toward that record – it's as slow as beach erosion – it's hard to imagine any less anticipation for what should be one of the league's all-time great achievements. Losing has killed off the joy. His journey is hardly being noticed. At this rate, Lenny Wilkens with 1,332 coaching wins might be safe for some time.
Nelson has won game consistently over his 31-year career as an innovator -- the Warriors might even win Tuesday night against equally dreadful Sacramento – but he hasn't won much lately. And he is not going to win many in the future.
Not with this team. Not with this style.
If the Warriors are serious about starting a long-term rebuilding project, it's time to put the coach in place who will be there to orchestrate it, to teach the players a new way to play.
Nelson has served his purpose.
Yes, it would be cold to dump Nelson when he's so close to the record, but it's time to move forward. The Warriors have some talented young players waiting for a new direction. Monta Ellis, 24, and Andris Biedrins, 23, are proven NBA players, but wondering what the future holds at Golden State. Recent first round picks Anthony Randolph (2008) and Stephen Curry (2009) are itching to shine, too.
This is a team that can score in bunches, but it doesn't stop anyone. They are allowing 111 points a game, the fourth consecutive season in which they had the worst defense in the league. It's also Nelson's fourth season in his second stop at Golden State.
Sure, it can be entertaining to watch the Warriors uptempo style, but not when they can't stop anyone else, nor even pretend to play serious defense. This is not the way to teach the young guys. This philosophy won't ever win big.
This is Nelson's second stint at Golden State. He was there the first time during those fun years, the Run TMC years, with Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond. Yet even in those good years, they never got past the second round of the playoffs.
Nelson has coached and won in Milwaukee and Dallas. He won the first time at Golden State. He was blistered in New York.
In the last 15 years, his teams have won only a combined five playoffs series. Three times he won the NBA's Coach of the Year honors, yet the last time was 18 years ago. He never has reached the NBA Finals.
He told FanHouse earlier this week he expects to finish out his contract that takes him through next season. Former Warrior Stephen Jackson said that he expects Nelson to step aside for Smart after this season.
Maybe they are both wrong.
Through the years, Nelson has proven himself time and again, taking marginally-talented teams and upsetting the favorites by playing in his unorthodox style. One of his greatest moments came in 2007 when he devised the plan that allowed the eight-seeded Warriors to stun the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks – his former team -- in the first round of the playoffs.
It may have been his crowning moment. He has taken the Warriors as far as he can. Hanging on for the record would be nice, but it's nothing more than treading water for the franchise. It's time now to let go and turn over the keys to someone else.