ESPN's Chris Broussard reported this morning on First Take that Don Nelson and Chris Mullin are battling and aren't on speaking terms right now. The juiciest tidbit in Broussard's clip is their differing views on Randolph and the young players on this roster. Mullin thinks Randolph's a superstar in the making and the face of the franchise, but Nellie told the rookie to have his agent look into trades. Currently Randolph (Rookie Card) rates as the 23rd best rookie in the association this year according to David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.
J-u-m-p for some thoughts on the drama!
If there's a difference of opinion in player projections between the two, you've got to side with Nellie. Mullin is the GM who brought you such bust picks as Ike Diogu, Chris Taft, Patrick O'Bryant, Kosta Perovic (one of the silliest 2nd round contracts of all time), Marco Belinelli (jury's still out), and Stephane Lasme plus outlandish deals for Adonal Foyle, Derek Fisher, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, and Corey Maggette (Robert Rowell?). This is a guy who honestly believed that a front court "core" of Foyle-Murphy-Dunleavy was actually a good idea and wasted a full season of BoomRich-ness. The current D-Leagueness of the Warriors roster is a direct consequence of Mullin's blown picks, silly trades, and contract decisions (Foyle's still on the books this year). Don't forget that Mullin is no stranger to overrating his young "potential". He wouldn't move Diogu (currently a 12th man on the Blazers) to get Ron Artest in his prime. He and Rowell's moves destroyed We Believe.
Nellie on the other hand has a proven track record of scouting and coaching success. He took the Milwaukee Bucks to the conference finals, the Dallas Mavericks from worst to 1st in the West, and saved the Warriors not once, but twice. If Nelson doesn't think a player's good enough to blow up in the NBA, they probably aren't. Nellie doesn't "hate" rookies or young players (see Chris Webber, Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Monta Ellis, and Andris Biedrins, Josh Howard, and Marquis Daniels). He just doesn't like to give out playing time to players he doesn't think are worth giving playing time to- they either aren't ready or don't have a bright future. My goodness thank you Nellie for not investing playing time in trying to mythically develop the untapped potential of Mullin "finds" like Diogu, POB, and Kosta.
There's no doubt Nellie's a drama queen (a wildly entertaining one at that), but this is indisputably one of the shrewdest basketball minds of all time. His critics constantly harp on his lack of emphasis on D. They obviously didn't watch We Believe. That amazing 16-5 run and upset over the Mavs was heavily due to Nellie's defensive strategies- the gameplans that shut down Yao Ming, Steve Nash, and Dirk Nowitzki that spring were unBELIEVABLE. Give him some players and he'll do some truly amazing things. If he had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Tim Duncan, or Kevin Garnett he'd have a few rings. But he's hasn't, so he's ringless. I remember Nellie saying last year it takes 3 All-Star players to win it all or 2 all time greats (Shaq and Kobe) to bring home a championship. Mullin hasn't exactly proven to be the guy to get that done.
Check out Nellie's resume on Wikipedia. He's by no means perfect, but no one has done more with less in his NBA coaching career than Nellie. This sorry organization is lucky to have him because coaches and hoops masterminds of his caliber aren't going to be walking down Hegenberger to work for the Warriors anytime soon as long as Chris Cohan owns this team and the unqualified and classless Rowell is heading up the operations.
I see a lot of folks in the local media and in the GSoM community calling for Nellie's head. I just don't get it. Under Mullin the Warriors have had one playoff season over 5 seasons (hey they aren't making the playoffs this year), but people are willing to give Mullin more time and cut ties with Nellie because the team is struggling mightily in one single season through 26 games with an injured and under-talented roster. It seems like folks have an agenda to axe the old man. It's pathetic and unfair. Critics and bandwagoners alike might not remember pre-Nellie, but we do. See The Dirty Dozen: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
This Nellie vs Mullin drama is probably just some media fabricated hysteria to get more viewers. I really doubt this is anything that major. BUT if it really is Nelson vs Mullin who are you siding with and why?
I'll take the coaching legend and hoops mastermind despite his quirks and narcissism (he more than makes up for it with his humor especially on The Don Nelson Show on KNBR) any day over a figure head executive who was handed the job not because of his qualifications or expertise, but because of his name. If this were Chris Smith instead of Chris Mullin he would've got canned years ago- probably never even hired.
Also see GSoM reader kyzah's FanPost: On ESPN First Take: Nellie Tells Randolph's Agent to Seek Trade Options