The ground is shaking beneath Mike Montgomery, and it can't all be blamed on rampaging Ron Artest rumors.
The atmosphere is diferent, as the Warriors' hierarchy scrambles for answers. The Warriors are tilting off-balance, as Baron Davis pulls one way, the coaching staff pulls another and the cloddish efforts build.
Come on, if you saw the nose-diving, injury- and Artest-wracked Indiana Pacers stall and badger the Warriors for most of the game in their 99-89 win at the Oakland Coliseum Arena on Thursday, you know what's happening. And you know it isn't good.
Blame the rumors for making the young Warriors skittish, if you choose. Blame anything you want. Heck, blame me, because I've been skeptical all season.
But before the game, Montgomery said he'd like to keep this good group of guys together (don't know if he counted Baron in there) - and the result was an almost total flat-line effort.
It's too bad, but less than two years after bolting Stanford, Montgomery seems a little more lost, a little more out of place and a lot more alone every night.
Mike, has Chris Mullin asked for your opinion about Artest?
"Picture me Sergeant Schultz," Montgomery said before the game with his signature sarcasm. "I know no-thinnng."
Curious. Chilling. Because Mullin and Rod Higgins are undoubtedly contemplating a deal for Artest, whether or not Montgomery wants to coach him. So what does that tell you about the current relationship between coach and management?
Of course, the main speculation involves a package featuring Troy Murphy for Artest, which would be a steal for the Warriors.
But Dan Fegan, the agent for Murphy, said Thursday that Mullin assured him Murphy would not be included in any trade for Artest, which sounds right to me since Murphy's long-term deal is a major complication.
Any trade is more likely to include Ike Diogu and/or Mickael Pietrus. I believe Mullin is loath to trade multiple young players without filling his main need in the low post.
Yes, Artest would be a major plus for this team if he could be controlled, and I'm fairly sure that Montgomery couldn't do it.
But Artest plays mostly on the perimeter, and I wouldn't give up a bunch of young talent unless I could get a major big man in return.
I think Mullin agrees with that. I also think he's more frustrated by this two-week tumble than anybody, he sees how unprepared this team is at the start of games, and he has to be wondering if a more passionate, NBA-credible coach could change things.
Mullin knows that there are real expectations to end the 11-year playoff drought, and that he has Davis is in his prime, ready to charge.
Is it time to do something just to shake it up?
By the way, Mullin has been so far off the radar the last few weeks I suspect he's rooming with Dick Cheney somewhere. But Indiana Coach Rick Carlisle acknowledged Thursday that the Warriors are among Artest's main suitors.
"What I can tell you is whoever ends up with him is going to get a top 10 player who's a real difference-maker, who's a bona fide All-Star and maybe the best two-way player in the game," Carlisle said. "I understand why there's a lot of interest."
Artest is a great player. And he's crazy. He could lock down Kobe Bryant then go AWOL on successive days.
But there are plenty of great players who are hard to coach, Davis among them, and if your coach is somebody who can't handle those guys, I'm not sure if you want him to be your coach for very long.
Phil Jackson handled Dennis Rodman and is begging for Artest. Flip Saunders and Larry Brown have done just fine with Rasheed Wallace.
Montgomery is a great program-builder who stayed at Stanford when he could've gone to UCLA or Ohio State, whose temperament and style might be too refined to fully incorporate the greater talents of the NBA.
And the great talent players are the ones who win championships.
Which makes me wonder: Should the Warriors continue to accommodate Montgomery's limitations by shying away from possible troublemakers?
Or has the latest weirdness forced management to plot the Warriors' post-Montgomery existence, which actually started with the acquisition of Davis last season?
Don Nelson is out there, in semi-retirement. Keith Smart is sitting there, already on the bench. So is Mario Elie.
Maybe I'm getting way ahead of everything here, but I think it's time to start analyzing how much things and expectations have changed for the Warriors since Montgomery was lured from Stanford.
We're getting a good read on all that right now, whether Artest ever ends up here or not.
Tracy McGrady scored 34 points, Juwan Howard made two late jumpers and the Houston Rockets got their second straight quality road win Thursday, 90-81 over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
McGrady surpassed 30 points for the fourth straight game as the Rockets, who have been hit by injuries all season, followed up a win at Washington by handing the Cavaliers just their fourth loss in 17 home games.
LeBron James had 32 points, nine rebounds and five assists for Cleveland, but the Cavs fell to 1-1 since learning that guard Larry Hughes, the club's second-leading scorer, could miss two months with a broken finger.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 17 points for the Cavs, who didn't help themselves by going just 8-of-18 on free throws and 7-of-29 on 3-pointers.