Publicly, Warriors coach Don Nelson has repeatedly stiff-armed talk of him becoming the NBA's winningest-ever coach. The irritation is evident on his face whenever he's asked about it.
But if any desire exists in him to surpass Lenny Wilkens for the most coaching victories in NBA history, Nelson had better do it now. And he knows it.
The team's announcement Monday that majority owner Chris Cohan has placed a "For Sale" sign in the front lawn certainly increases the pressure. But despite 30 points from guard Monta Ellis and 29 from swingman Reggie Williams, Nelson failed to move one step closer with Monday's 133-131 loss to the visiting Phoenix Suns.
He stays five wins from breaking the record. He's got 12 games left this season.
"I'm 70 years old. My future is clear," said Nelson, who actually turns 70 in May and has one more season, for $6 million, on his contract. "I have one more year left and then I'm going to retire. I'm going to fulfill my contract. What happens, happens."
What many expect to happen, depending on how fast Cohan finds a prospective buyer and works out an agreement, is that the new boss will come to town and clean house. Among the first places to start is at the top: president Robert Rowell, general manager Larry Riley and Nelson.
If the sale takes a while, Nelson might get to finish out his contract. But some inside the organization think the sale could go down quickly, as franchise sales go.
If Cohan makes an agreement with a purchaser in the next two or three months, the moves the Warriors make this offseason — while the technicalities of the sale are worked out — could be for the new regime. That could impact whom they draft, whom they trade, whom they want as coach.
Riley said the team isn't concerned about what could happen. He said the potential sale won't change how he's approaching the draft, or his plans for improving the roster via the trade market and free agency this offseason.
"I will just proceed as normal," Riley said. "We proceed as though everything will continue as it is now. Until we're notified otherwise. All I've been told is, 'Go do your job.' "
Nelson is still four games from equaling Wilkens' 1,332 regular-season victories because one of the Suns did his job down the stretch.
Phoenix forward Amare Stoudemire, the undisputed best big man in the arena, finally dominated the Warriors' miniature front line late. He scored 18 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, including an embarrassing dunk over Warriors forward Anthony Tolliver.
The Warriors hung around the playoff-bound Suns by forcing 22 turnovers and knocking down half their shots.
But in the end, being out-rebounded by 15 and allowing 53.6 percent shooting led to another loss. It was an all-too-familiar ending for Nelson's injury-plagued, undersized and often defenseless Warriors.
That certainly doesn't encourage whoever the new owner might be to keep this crew around. Nor do some fans want this crew back.
"I believe the only hope for this franchise," said Mike Lippitt, a season-ticket holder for 15 years, "is a new owner, new president, new general manager and new coach. A coherent plan to improve the team and a young, energetic coach to implement that vision is what we need. What we have now is stale and worn."
And likely coming to an end.
Notes: Suns guard Jason Richardson, a former Warrior, tied his season high with 34 points on 12-for-20 shooting. ... Center Ronny Turiaf was given the NBA Community Assist Award for February. He is the sixth Warrior to win the award, joining Stephen Jackson (March 2008), Al Harrington (March 2007), Derek Fisher (April 2005), Antawn Jamison (July 2003) and Adonal Foyle (September 2004 and January 2002).
NEXT GAME: Wednesday,
vs. Grizzlies, 7:30 p.m.