With just days before training camp begins and soon-to-be owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber set to take over next month, the NBA's all-time winningest coach was forced out as part of the organization's desire for a fresh start. But a source close to the situation said Nelson -- who was asked to take a buyout -- will still expect to be paid all of the $6 million he is owed even if his exit is ultimately deemed a resignation.
Lacob and Guber are taking over for Chris Cohan, the much-maligned former owner whose track record included one Warriors playoff berth since he bought the team in 1995. Lacob has been vowing to run the organization in the sort of first-class manner he witnessed as a minority owner of the Boston Celtics, and he clearly saw Nelson's departure -- which, in truth, is nothing short of a firing -- as a step in that direction.
While the futures of general manager Larry Riley and team president Robert Rowell remain unknown, the one move most often demanded by the team's fans on the local radio airwaves and chat rooms was Nelson's ousting. The Warriors' new regime, in that regard, is clearly serious about going in a new direction.
Nelson was 1,335-1,063 overall, logging 31 seasons in all with Milwaukee, Golden State, New York, and Dallas and reaching the playoffs 18 times. He had two stints with the Warriors, guiding the Run TMC version (Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin) during his first stretch (1988-95) and leading the "We Believe" Warriors back to the playoffs in 2007 in the first of his four seasons back in the Bay. It was a steep slope down not long after, though, with Baron Davis' unexpected opt-out and exodus to the Clippers in the summer of 2008 triggering the dismantling of that roster after the 2007-08 club won 48 games but just missed the postseason.
Nelson did little to impress the new bosses this summer, telling FanHouse in early August that he would remain in Hawaii until he was asked to return. Meanwhile, three Golden State assistant coaches skipped town, taking opportunities elsewhere that came with far more security than the Warriors World. Smart's contract is not believed to have been finalized as yet, but he is expected to assume control before the team begins training camp on Tuesday.
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