According to multiple sources, Warriors president Robert Rowell has fired assistant general manager Pete D’Allesandro. D’Allesandro, the team’s salary cap guru and sidekick of Chris Mullin, the executive vice president of basketball operations, will be replaced by assistant coach Larry Riley.
D’Alessandro was hired by Mullin in 2004 as the director of basketball operations. He was promoted to assistant general manager after Rod Higgins gave up his general manager post to take a similar position with the Charlotte Bobcats. D’Alessandro was the resident salary cap and collective bargaining agreement guru.
Riley, coach Don Nelson’s right-hand man, was the director of player personnel for the Vancouver Grizzlies for six years in the 90s.
The decision to fire D’Alessandro figures has to be a tough pill to swallow for Mullin, who loses his close friend. It is, to be sure, the latest in a string of executive decisions by Rowell.
* Rowell hit Ellis with a 30-game suspension, which is way tougher a punishment than Mullin wanted to levy, I’m told by several sources.
* According to Stephen Jackson, he has been assured he will get a contract extension. A source with knowledge of the negotiations said Mullin is not involved in the process
*Then there is the Baron thing. I’ve been told Mullin would’ve given Baron a contract, but Rowell would not unless there were certain protections for the team in the form of incentives and team options
It must be said that Rowell is the team president, second in power only to owner Chris Cohan. He’s supposed to make decisions from on-high and has been for years. But it does seem like he is much more involved lately (or is it just more public) and he and Mullin are at odds on how to handle things a lot more than ever before.
Some in the organization say it’s just perception, that Rowell has stepped in plenty times before, it just never became public. Others tell me Rowell is growing weary of watching Mullin make bad decisions and is having more of a finger print because of it. You be the judge.
What does it mean that D’Alessandro got canned? There are three ways to look at this:
1. Mullin is on notice: Cutting D’Alessandro could be a way of showing Mullin that challenging the authority of Rowell is a bad move with consequences. You know, like in the mob movies when you go after someone close to your enemy to send a message.
2. Mullin is off notice: What if Rowell think Mullin is worth keeping around and they got rid of his “bad influence.” Maybe it’s like an olive branch, because Rowell certainly could’ve fired Mullin, bad P.R. notwithstanding. Maybe Rowell assessed the situation and didn’t find Mullin in violation, but D’Alessandro.
3. Mullin gets warning and mercy: This could be a sign that they are watching him closely, but a gesture of promise that this relationship is salvageable.
It will be interesting to see how Mullin responds. Will he up and quit? Will we start hearing scuttle about him looking into other gigs? Will he reach out to Rowell and make this work?
What makes this even more interesting is who they chose to replace D’Alessandro. Riley is Nellie’s Robin. He was with him in Dallas. He brought him over to the Warriors with him. The two take a walk together before the games. They are tight.
What does it mean that they replaced Mullin’s right-hand man with Nellie’s? Could be nothing. Could be a conspiracy. Certainly makes me think.