Mavs’ Coach Nelson Gets 3-Year Extension
DALLAS (AP) _ As the free-agent negotiating period began Tuesday, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced a different kind of deal, a three-year contract extension for Don Nelson to remain as coach.
Nelson already was under contract as general manager through 2005-06. Now he’ll keep both jobs that long, continuing a double duty he began in the 1997-98 season.
``The bottom line was I wanted to remain the coach of the Mavericks,″ Nelson said. ``I believe I am the right person for the job and look forward to building on our recent successes.″
The Mavericks also announced the signing of assistant coach Del Harris to a three-year contract extension. In keeping with team policy, terms were not disclosed.
Nelson’s rehiring has been expected for weeks. It wasn’t as obvious months ago.
Nelson asked for an extension early this past season when Dallas held the best record in the NBA. Cuban said he wanted to wait until after the playoffs.
The Mavericks went on to win a franchise-record 60 games, then reached the Western Conference finals for only the second time in team history. They lost in six games to the San Antonio Spurs, the eventual NBA champions.
The day after Dallas was eliminated, Cuban said he was ready to welcome Nelson back as coach. Nelson, though, said he wanted to think about it. He went to his offseason home in Hawaii for several weeks. When he returned, his lawyers were already perusing the new offer.
``(The uncertainty) was a bigger deal to me early in the season,″ Nelson said before going to Maui. ``I let it bother me some, not knowing the future, and it got a life of its own. ...
``When I settled back and respected his decision to wait, I chilled out and basically did my job and tried not to let it affect me. But I put more pressure on myself than I needed to at different times of the year.″
The 63-year-old Nelson is the third-winningest coach in NBA history, having gone 1,096-828 in 25 seasons with Dallas, Milwaukee, Golden State and the New York Knicks. He’s never coached a team to the finals.
The Mavericks are 245-199 since he fired Jim Cleamons and took over himself, months after being hired as GM. Michael Finley is the only player he inherited that’s still on the roster. A renown wheeler-dealer, Nelson’s team last season did not feature a single player drafted by the organization.
After Nelson’s coaching and GM contracts lapse, he has a deal to be a consultant for the next five seasons, keeping him on the payroll through 2011.