The Warriors swapped Al Harrington for Jamal Crawford earlier this season mostly because Don Nelson and Harrington couldn't get along. Now, Nelson wants Crawford to leave, telling the guard in a recent team meeting that if he doesn't grab hold of his own destiny by opting out at the end of the season then the Warriors will make every effort to trade him.
News of Nelson's message to Crawford was first reported last week, though it wasn't until Wednesday that Nelson finally confirmed that's exactly what he said. "I've always been very open and honest with my players and I did tell him he probably would either opt out or we would move him next year," Nelson said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. He continued:
"That's a fact and I just don't see that that's going to work. I'm loaded in the backcourt. If I'm going to move (Stephen) Jackson into the backcourt now, I'm really overloaded. I think he's too good a player to be a 10- or 15-minute player, as a backup player."
[...] "Wherever Jack plays, there's not many minutes left. Wherever Monta plays when he's healthy, there won't be very many minutes left," Nelson said. "Those positions should be backed up by somebody making less than 8 or 9 - or whatever his contract is - million dollars a year. So he makes too much money as a backup player."
Here's the problem: There's no chance Crawford will opt out, and a quick glance at his contract and a basic understanding of the current economic climate should have told Nelson as much. Crawford is slated to earn more than $19 million over the next two years; if he opts out, he might not make that money up in three or four years, let alone two.
Nelson has put his player in an extremely uncomfortable position. How can the Warriors build trust on the court when one player has been told he's playing for himself? Crawford has rarely been an efficient shooter, but it's probably no coincidence that his field-goal percentage so far in March (37.9%) is his lowest since joining the team.
Honesty can be refreshing, but telling a player he has no future in the organization does little to inspire confidence, let alone trade value. The rest of the league now knows just how desperate the Warriors will be to move Crawford this summer, destroying any chance to get equal value in return.