IT'S NOT SAD that swingman Stephen Jackson left the Warriors as part of a four-player trade Monday with the Charlotte Bobcats.
It was worse when Baron Davis skipped town. Or when Jason Richardson was dealt. Or perhaps even the combined departures of Mickael Pietrus, Matt Barnes and Al Harrington.
Stop wondering whether to get sentimental about Jackson, whether he symbolized the last remaining piece of the 2007 "We Believe" playoff era. He didn't.
So don't bother shedding a tear. He certainly didn't.
Jackson wanted to bail on this perennially chaotic franchise. He just didn't make a smooth exit. He lost favor with Warriors fans by asking out way too soon after agreeing to a three-year bribe to stay here.
For the post-Jackson Warriors to take shape and move on to their next playoff generation, more change is needed. A change of ownership? There's a chance, so keep praying. But more likely is the eventual departures of two other Chris Cohan employees.
Specifically, when do coach Don Nelson and point guard/shooting guard/selfish guard Monta Ellis leave, too? When do they tell the far-too-generous Warriors brass to take their jobs and shove it?
Can't be long now. Can't. Just can't.
Nellie can't coexist with this youth-laden roster, no matter if Jackson and Acie Law are gone and replaced by ex-Bobcats Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic.
Nellie figures to outlast Ellis because, well, Nellie's magic number is only 21 — the victories needed to surpass Lenny Wilkens' NBA all-time wins record. If he can't get that mark with the Warriors, then where? Not with the Maui High Sabers. The Warriors are his last stop, or at least it ought to be for the 69-year-old coach who looks worn out and uninspired.
Nellie confidant Larry Riley is the Warriors general manager, and if you couple that with the contract extension Nellie got last fall, the only one who will push Nellie out is Nellie. As for last weekend's report that he might step down and earn his millions as a consultant, bad idea. His aura would be as suffocating as if he were the coach. A clean break would be better than having his cigar smoke hover in the air.
He's as stuck with these kids as they are with him. Will Nelson flip the franchise into a winner in the short term? As likely to happen as $1 beer night at Oracle Arena. But his teams play entertaining, fast-paced ball that still attracts buying customers.
Speaking of money, Monday's deal worked well for the Warriors' plight, freeing up $21 million from their future salary cap.
As for Ellis, oh boy, here we go. He's on the clock.
Coexisting with Nellie isn't Ellis' idea of fun. Ellis needs to go soon. He wants to go. Let him go.
The poor baby doesn't like getting blamed for everything, or so he whined to Nellie in front of reporters the other day. Now that Jackson is gone, more blame is coming Ellis' way, and he doesn't have the maturity or leadership to accept that role.
Ellis just saw how Jackson escaped, and that blueprint will be followed. Ellis already distrusts his authority figures (see: 2008 "moped" saga that cost him half of last season and millions of dollars).
The Warriors can't rebuild around Ellis. They can't count on him. Can't do it. Just can't. Those words sound familiar? They came at the start of training camp as Ellis predicted — correctly so, apparently — that he and rookie Stephen Curry can't share a backcourt.
Ellis and Curry look similar in stature. But they are vastly different. Curry is concerned about making his teammates better. Ellis is concerned about making Ellis' scoring average better.
Oh, you wanted a post-mortem on Jackson's stint as a Warrior? OK, he arrived in a January 2007 trade that propelled the Warriors to a long-awaited playoff trip, and he delivered 33 points in the series-clinching upset of the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.
But Jackson won't be remembered for that game, or necessarily the far-too-common 3-for-17 shooting nights (see: 2007 playoff exit vs. Utah). His mouth and emotion often ran wild. That made him the heart and soul of the Warriors, until he sold his soul for a three-year contract extension and an eventual escape hatch to North Carolina.
This conga-line of departures isn't ending with him. It can't be long before Nellie and Ellis join the We Believe Alumni Association. Can't be long. Just can't.