The big word around The Town yesterday was that the Golden State Warriors elected to not renew one of their most popular players of all time Chris Mullin as a front office executive and decided to promote Don Nelson's right hand man Larry Riley to the GM spot [Warriors.com]. GSoMers have had a lot to say about the official transition.
For various possible reasons there seems to be a ton of myths about the Mullin front office era, perpetuated by the media at large (most of whom probably didn't know the first thing about the Warriors pre- 2007 NBA Playoffs) and some mostly bandwagon fan analysis plagued by a case of selective memory. Some of it romanticizes the 5 years of Mullin reign and some of it is simply unfair criticism.
Today's topic is the unfounded notion that Chris Mullin made the Warriors a franchise players wanted to join. Jump like you're dunking for some d-bunking.
One of the main contentions of the fans of Mullin's up and mostly down front office tenure is that he made the Warriors a desirable destination for players across the league.
If that were true, you'd expect to see some tangible benefits in terms of free agency and the trade market. A quick look back will show you that wasn't the case.
For whatever reason Chris Mullin was in hot, hot, hot pursuit of Al Harrington in the summer of 2006. Harrington, a below average starting PF in the league at best, was the prize in Mullin's eyes. So what happened? Mullin's supposed magic didn't work and Al headed to Indiana, despite countless (and head scratching) attention and devotion. The rest is all history.
2) Allen Iverson
When the 76ers were ready to part ways with The Answer at the beginning of the 2006-2007 NBA season many teams and fans were going nuts trying to get him. Shoot I went absolutely nuts covering it. Sadly at one point AI straight up said he wasn't having any of the Dubs or Kings. Do you really think Iverson cared the least bit that Mullin was in the charge of the Warriors back then?
3) Kevin Garnett
KG to the Bay! (Sorry I just felt obligated to yell that for the one millionth time.)
Unfortunately we all know the sad ending to this tale after the Warriors struck out. Kevin Garnett's camp had a big chip in their hands with a looming extension coming up and the right to opt out. If Mullin really had that star power that made the Warriors a destination, don't you think KG would've used that chip and lobbied hard for a trade here? I have never heard anyone argue that Celtics front office man and former Celt Danny Ainge made Boston attractive for Garnett. To be honest I think the only thing that mattered here was Kevin McHale's never ending love for his NBA alma mattar and the respect Paul Pierce and Ray Allen carried around the league.
The funny thing about this one is that the Warriors actually offered Agent Zero more money than he actually signed for with the Wizards. In spite of the extra dead presidents, Mullin's supposed charm did absolutely nothing here.
After Boom's departure to Warriors South, Brand could've came to Clippers North to a ton of money- more than the Clip show could've offered. Instead he bolted to the Leastern Conference and red-shirted his first season. It would surprise me if Brand and his agent even spent more than a second caring that Mullin was the VP of the Warriors. It was about the money.
On the trade market the biggest fish Mullin netted were Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, and Al Harrington. For BD and Jack I don't think you can say either of those guys specifically wanted to play on the Warriors for Chris Mullin- both of them just wanted to catch the first train out of NOLA and Indy respectively. I'm sure both of the Hornets and Pacers wanted to send them packing ASAP as well. Remember this is just after a few short months when Harrington spurred Mullin and the Dubs in free agency, so it would be somewhat shocking if he was jumping out of seat to play for Mullie and the Dubs then.
The "big name" free agents that Mullin and his "big name" signed include Derek Fisher, Austin Croshere, Troy Hudson, Ronny Turiaf, and Corey Maggette. That's not exactly a "big deal." If that's what Mullin nets as an executive because of his famed playing career- who honestly cares? At the end of the day the Warriors paid for more for those guys than any other team in the entire association saw fit (and for good reason).
The supposed star power Mullin had during his 5 year tenure in the Warriors' front office and its translation into his ability to make the team a place impact players wanted to play is grossly exaggerated. Players don't care who is signing the checks or who is in charge of the front office. There's exceptions where some vets will come back from retirement or play for a slightly cheaper deal to play alongside superstars and chase a ring, but that's about it. The playing career of the members of the front office means next to nothing in making a team a more desirable place to play.
It's all about the dolla bills and w's ya'll.
This isn't to say that solely Mullin's impact as a former hoops star in the front office is overrated. The greatest basketball player to ever play the game Michael Jordan hasn't had much success either in his two stints with the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats in making them destinations for today's players. You didn't for the Wizards and don't for the Bobcats see any big names clamoring to play for MJ- and he's got that iconic hoops logo too.
Great for kicks and threads, but meaningless in the front office.
Give me a competent and talented basketball mind minus the "star power" a la Greg Poppovich when he first started in San Antonio or Donnie Nelson in Dallas than a big name ex-player who got a job he was never qualified for any day. Is new Warriors GM Larry Riley that guy? We'll find out soon enough.
(Two Dubs connections there in case you missed it- Pop moved from an assistant coach on the Warriors to the GM spot on the Spurs and Donnie is Nellie's son who oddly enough "doesn't smoke Cuban".)