Smart to replace Nelson as coach
Don Nelson has been pushed out as Golden State Warriors coach and replaced with assistant Keith Smart, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Nelson, the all-time winningest coach in NBA history, will officially resign and accept a settlement on the $6 million owed him on his contract. The Warriors are expected to announce the change on Monday.
New Warriors owner Joe Lacob was determined to replace Nelson as coach, and Nelson, sources said, was glad to take his money and return to retirement in Hawaii.
The Warriors have their media day on Monday and open training camp on Tuesday. Sources said Nelson had been at the Warriors’ practice facility early in the week for the team’s informal workouts. His agreement to part ways with the franchise, a source said, was amicable.
“I don’t think the new owner liked Nelson’s style of coaching. That’s what it boils down to,” a source with knowledge of the situation told Y! Sports’ Marc Spears. “They’re saying he quit, but Lacob wanted to go in a different direction.”
Nelson and Warriors general manager Larry Riley didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.
Smart is negotiating a multi-year contract with the Warriors, a source said. Former Warriors forward Calbert Cheaney, a special assistant under Nelson, will be promoted to the bench on Smart’s staff. Jerry Sichting and Robert Werdann also have been added as assistants, league sources said, and Mark Price will work with the Warriors as a part-time shooting coach.
Lacob and Peter Guber purchased the Warriors from Chris Cohan for $450 million in July. League sources expect the NBA to officially approve the new ownership group around Oct. 21.
Nelson, 70, was in his second stint coaching the Warriors after taking over the team prior to the 2006-07 season. The Warriors stunned the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs in Nelson’s first season but failed to reach the postseason the following year despite winning 48 games. Golden State went a combined 55-109 under Nelson the past two years.
In 31 seasons as an NBA head coach, Nelson has a career record of 1,335-1,063. He passed Lenny Wilkens as the league’s all-time leader in coaching victories in April.