I meant to do this yesterday, but I was swamped with something else. My bad.
There were a number of interesting things to come out of the press conference, most of which I couldn’t touch on in my story.
A couple of items were swept under the rug, I think, by the Warriors:
* Rowell intimated he dropped Mullin because the Warriors reached the playoffs one time in five years. That struck me as poor reasoning at the least.
Mullin took over before the 2004-05 season.
2004-05: 34 wins. Not good, but acquired Baron Davis.
2005-06: 34 wins. Still not good.
2006-07: Brought in Nellie. Brought in Jackson and Harrington and dumped Murphleavy. They won 42 games and snuck into the playoffs. Members of the organization have pointed out that the Warriors barely got in, almost as if to diminish it. But it’s still and eight-game boost and THEY GOT IN. By every measurement, that was an improvement.
2007-08: Won 48 games. Most ever for a team that didn’t make the playoffs. No question an improvement. Some in the organization says it doesn’t matter, they didn’t make it. I guess I can see that, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’tt an improvement.
2008-09: Mullin faded to the background. Bad season. Not good.
Now, to me, when you look at that body of work, especially in light of history, and say that Mullin didn’t do at least a pretty good job. Are there reasons to not bring him back? Sure. One of them is because they simply don’t want him back. But to say it’s because they made the playoffs one in five years, that was suspect to me.
To be fair, Rowell nor any other Warriors official want to say anything bad about Mullin. Perhaps classy. But it is not classy to shoot BS to fans.
The Warriors have made the playoffs once in the last 15 years, nine of which Rowell was a big wig. That means a lot of people should be gone if that’s the standard.
I think the problem was Mullin didn’t fit was his bosses thought a general manager should be. Period. If you are going strictly off resume, you have to qualify the first two years and those early moves with Mullin being a rookie GM, as you qualify Anthony Randolph’s turnovers. Then you look at the next two years, and there’s no way you say this guy wasn’t at least getting good. He had strengths and weaknesses, good moves and bad moves. If it were about the moves, Mullin should’ve been canned a long time ago. It had more to do with management style and philosophy about how the GM of an NBA team should operate. Not one playoff in five years.
* Rowell said titles are just titles. But I find it … interesting … that Riley is the general manager and not the executive vice president of basketball operations. EVP is a goal in the Warriors organization. There are only a few. It’s the highest you can get before bumping into the sole of Rowell’s shoes. It says something that the new head basketball executive has the same title as Rod Higgins, who was under Mullin when he was here.
Riley got a three-year deal, according to team sources. My colleague, Tim Kawakami is reporting that Riley is the lowest paid GM in the league. It says something, IMHO, about what the Warriors feel about the power of that position. Travis Stanley, the executive vice president of team marketing, is higher up on the Warriors’ organizational chart than the top basketball executive, who determines the product on the court.
* Rowell said he looked at others, including outside the organization, to replace Mullin
* Riley and Rowell spent a lot of time trying to establish Larry Riley as his own man. I believe he is. But I don’t think that’s the end of the story.
Riley won’t have to counter Nellie because he thinks just like Nellie. He’s been under Nellie’s wing for the last nine years. Whatever disagreements they have, if any, will be minute because he will already be thinking what Nelson is thinking. Riley said as much:
“Now, does Nellie dictate my life? No. Is he a good friend? Yes. Do I listen to him? Yes. If I have to make a counter-decision, I’ll make it, based on the information I collect. I don’t see that happening.”
I do agree with one point they made. It is better if the GM and coach trust each other. There is evidence of that around the league. The Warriors need a drama-free season in the front office, and there won’t be between the two.
I don’t think Riley will be taking orders from Nelson. But I also don’t think he’ll have to. So, in essence, if Nellie isn’t running basketball operations, it will be like he is.
* Riley brought up his stint with the Vancouver Grizzlies. I totally think he overestimated the concern about his resume.
* I personally got a kick of how they passed of Nellie as the emotional grandfather/coach.
“You’ve got to understand that I’ve got a 69-year-old head coach, in fact, he’ll be 69 on Friday. He’s been in the league for 45 years. He’s got over 30 years of experience as a coach. He’s got a .565 winning percentage. He’s going to be the winningest coach in the NBA with 24 wins next season.
And of course, yes, he’s quirky he’s unconventional, he’s stubborn. He hates to lose. But he’s a heckuva coach.
So when I’m looking at a person that I want to put in position to be our general manager, to lead our organization, I need someone that understands our coach and understands what’s necessary in order for us too provide him the tools to win.”
If they are seriously viewing Nellie that way, it’s a good thing. He is fiesty. He is emotional. Which means he can’t be the one making decisions or running the show. You Warrior fans better hope they’ve figured that out.