Offseason Q&A: Tim Kawakami (San Jose Mercury) Part 1 of 4

We thought we'd be doing our Warriors offseason Q&A with Tim sometime in late May after a fun playoff run, but as long time Warriors fans know all too well, things don't always go according to plan here in Dubs land. 


MUST READ  for all Bay Area sports junkies.

Make the jump for Tim's thoughts on Warriors front office man Chris Mullin and head coach Don Nelson.

 

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Golden State of Mind: Chris Mullin has now been the Warriors VP/GM for 4 full seasons of which the team has only made the playoffs once as the 8th seed on the very last day of the season. Mullin's savior during both his playing and front office career Don Nelson has said that if he comes back next season it will definitely be his last on the sidelines. How do you see the Warriors doing under Mullin's hand once Nellie retires from the coaching ranks? Given the Warriors many free agent, contract extension, and draft mistakes over the past 4 seasons as well as how the team fared under Coach Mike Montgomery how committed is Warriors owner Chris Cohan to Mullin once Nellie retires? Also it seems like fans and the media alike are quick to criticize Nellie for the team missing the playoffs this season instead of Mullin who laced this club with a bench that his head coach flat out refused to play. Why do you think that's the case?

Tim Kawakami (4/21/08): OK, how in the heck do I start with all those questions at once? It's like fending off the Phoenix Suns' break and my braincells are as slow moving and tired as Baron's feet on defense. First: I think Cohan is committed to Mullin for the duration, barring a complete long-term collapse, and I don't see that happening as long as Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins and Brandan Wright are around. Second, I think Nelson will quit either during or after next season--he's just running out of battery power and coaching manuevers and I'm not sure he'll be that effective beyond next March or so.

Nelson did save Mullin, but I think Mullin has picked things up from Nelson and from Mullin's own initial mistakes--he'll never repeat the Murphy, Dunleavy, Foyle, Fisher and yes, Richardson contracts that this team only just now has thoroughly escaped. We're seeing that with Baron Davis even now. Baron is not going to get any more money from the Warriors this summer and I'll go further: I think the odds are that Baron won't be a Warriors beyond next season. That's just smart fiscal sensibility with a 29-year-old point guard and it's Nellie style (though Don would never admit that).

 

Great point about Mullin escaping criticism for the weak bench. I'd agree with you... if I thought it was a completely weak bench. And if this team wasn't 5 or 6 times as deep and talented than it was three years ago, when it starred Murphy, Dunleavy, Richardson, Foyle and many other of that calvalcade.

 

It was an ineffective bench, sure, but I get to watch 20 minutes here and there of practice, and there is no question that Brandan Wright could've played much more and not just starting in late February. Don just didn't want to play him. Just refused to consider it. Belinelli was OK. Don froze him out.

 

I'll put Croshere and Hudson on Mullin--but those were health-risks coming into the season and everybody knew it. I can't blame anybody for the disappearance of Matt Barnes' game (one-year wonder?) or Mickael Pietrus'... whatever he had going, it's always a question mark with him.

 

I do blame Don for wasting Patrick O'Bryant without a care, without even trying to see if he could play--though I understand Don hates those kinds of players and never suggested otherwise. I blame Don for not knowing what to do with Perovic. I blame Don for not forcing C.J. Watson into at least 7 to 10 minutes EVERY game relieving Baron--and I also think part of Don's strategy was to let everybody know he had nobody but Baron, Jackson and Ellis to depend on. Was that true? I don't happen to think so.

 

So I'm blaming Nellie for a lot of things that I think come part and parcel with his genius, too. He's nutty. He gets incredibly stubborn yet he also changes his mind constantly--a weird combination, no? I think this team is more talented than it has been in 14 years... I credit Don for organizing it, maximizing it (last year) and helping Mullin figure out how to get it. But if you think Wright and Belinelli can play, I don't blame Mullin for Don not playing them this year.

 

I see this off-season as the start of another transition: From the Nelson Rebuild Era to the Next Coach/Next Lead Guard Era. I think Don and Baron will be around next season during the transition, but the key parts will be--finding the next coach (1 of Mullin's big tasks for the coming year) and re-arranging the roster to succeed as Baron either leaves or ceases to be a dominant player.

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Stay tuned for the rest of the Q&A...

 

From the GSoM Vault:

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