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Q&A: Tim Kawakami [Bay Area News Group]: Rowell, Mullin, Nellie, and Riley- The Blame and Credit Game (1/9/09)

There's that old saying that too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. Given the Warriors disastrous season thus far, it appears that may be one of the major factors in play. There's President Robert Rowell, VP/GM Chris Mullin, Head Coach Don Nelson, and new front office executive Larry Riley all supposedly calling the shots for the GSW.

Talking Bay Area Sports

Make the jump for Tim's breakdown of the roles each of these 4 played in the Warriors last 14 major moves.

Atma Brother #1 (Golden State of Mind): Fans of this team are thoroughly confused about who's calling the shots and who's done what in Warriors land recently and there seems to be some conflicting reports in the media. Who amongst the big names we constantly hear about in Warriors central (President Robert Rowell, VP Chris Mullin, Head Coach Don Nelson, or new front office executive Larry Riley) should fans blame or credit for the following recent string of moves by the organization? What role did each of these 4 (if any) play in these moves? [rest of question embedded in bold within Tim's response]

Tim Kawakami: You're confused. I'm confused. GMs around the league are confused about the Warriors, or so I'm told. "It's all over the map," one executive told me recently when I asked which Warriors official makes and takes the calls with other teams' execs. "Changes every day."

I'm pretty sure the Warriors themselves a significantly confused about who's making the day-to-day decisions around there, since Don Nelson is the highest paid, Rowell is the highest ranking, Riley is the supposed hands-on guy and Larry Harris has the most recent GM experience. I'm not counting Chris Mullin on that current list because he's basically a consultant now, running out the last days of his contract.

So these decision-by-decision judgements are just best estimations, based on what I've heard and know about the situations...



* Buying out Adonal Foyle 2 summers ago instead of having an expiring contract this season


That's a good one. I've mainly focused on the ill-fated decision not to waive him when the one-time only amnesty provision was offered, when it was clear he wasn't going to play one year into his long-term deal. The no-waive decision was jointly made, I think, between Mullin (who signed him to the deal originally) and Rowell, who didn't want to surrender so soon after signing him.

The buy-out before last season was, I think, a compromise with Adonal, who wanted to go elsewhere so he could play, and the Warriors, who got a 40% cut in his salary hit and also wanted to do right by him. I guess they could've waited him out and held him as an expiring contract, then gone shopping with it, but that's a long time to hold onto a guy who wasn't going to play. At all. 


* Drafting Marco Belinelli with the #18 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft

That was Mullin, with the enthusiastic backing of Nelson. I think Mullin saw Belinelli as a playmaker in the backcourt who could fit Nelson's offense better than Jason Richardson did. Though Mullin loved Jason. 


* Trading Jason Richardson for Brandan Wright

Don't want to get into the whole mess of KG scenarios, since I've gone deep, deep, deep for too long. But I think moving J-Rich was first tossed out as part of Garnett possibility. That's how it started. That's the only way Mullin would've started thinking about it. (Remember, Ellis, another one of his favorites, was part of that talk, too.)

Once Mullin accepted the possibility of moving Richardson (his favorite remaining Warrior), it was easier for Nelson and Rowell to convince Mullin that Richardson had to go, even if it wasn't for Garnett, just to slash more long-term money off the books. I think Mullin went with it because he liked Wright and because he wanted to have some money stashed for a possible Baron Davis extension--plus Ellis and Biedrins were coming up soon.


* Letting the $10 milllion dollar trade exception expire

I think Rowell obviously spear-headed that one, for salary cap reasons, but I don't think Mullin was in total disagreement. The key was finding a player who was worth the TE--and going at least a bit into luxury tax--and they never found that player. An aggressive team like Dallas or Portland would've used a portion of the TE to try to get something, but by that point, I think Rowell and Cohan were uninterested in bumping against lux-tax penalties.


* Drafting Anthony Randolph with the #14 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft

That was Mullin. Again, with Nelson's thumbs up, but Lepper reports that Nelson liked Jason Thompson more, which sounds right, given Nelson's treatment of Randolph. Jason Thompson would not have been Mullin's pick. If both were on the board at 14, and if we're assuming Mullin still had control of the draft last June (which I believe he did), then I think Randolph still would've been the pick. Bigger top-end potential, and Mullin always likes the stardom possibilities.


* Letting Baron Davis go to the LA Clippers

That was Rowell. As has been discussed by me and others, Mullin negotiated a three-year, $39M extension with Davis, presuming Davis would not opt-out. It had to be approved by Rowell and Cohan, and it was rejected. Rowell insisted on a two-year offer, with the third year tied to Baron's health, which was unacceptable to Baron.

I think Rowell assumed that Davis would not opt out and that, at worst, the Warriors would get one more year out of Davis. That's also what I assumed and Don Nelson assumed and everybody in the NBA presumed. Except Baron and the Clippers. Of course, then Elton Brand left for Philly and it all went to hell for three franchises--Warriors, Clippers and Sixers.


* Extending Monta Ellis for 6 years $66 million

That was a consensus decision, everybody on board with that one from ownership to Mullin, with Rowell in between.

* Extending Andris Biedrins for 6 years $54 million (+ incentives)

Same as with Ellis. I think Rowell and Cohan, with the minority owners, sat down and decided that they should and probably had to invest in Ellis and Biedrins over the long-term. And that was always what Mullin wanted to do. Mullin's plan: Baron, Harrington and Jackson for the short-term, Ellis, Belinelli, Biedrins, Wright and Randolph for the long-term.


* Inking free agent Corey Maggette to a 5 year $50 million deal

Everybody was on board for this one, too, but mostly as a desperation move. Once Baron was gone and Arenas turned down Rowell's insta-offer of $105M, Rowell and Mullin figured they had to land somebody to put the ball in the bucket and make defenses react. Best player for that they could find: Maggette. His price tag: $50M, to go over the top of San Antonio's mid-level bid.


* Matching the Clippers 3 year $9 million offer for Kelenna Azubuike

Probably consensus. You always need wings for a Don Nelson team.

* Trading a conditional 1st round pick for Marcus Williams

Mullin's deal. As Nelson has gone out of his way to prove.


* Suspending and fining Monta Ellis $3 million

Totally Rowell and Cohan. 


* Extending Stephen Jackson for 3 years $28 million

All Rowell. The signature move of his reign, added to his Nelson extension.


* Trading Al Harrington for Jamal Crawford

Complicated one--because I think Mullin is the one who got this deal onto the table. As he was shoved aside, Larry Riley tried to make a better deal, but after a week or so, the Warriors came back to the Crawford offer from New York. I think Nelson made the final ruling because he was clear he wanted a main rotation player in return for Harrington. He didn't want cap relief. 


Stay tuned! We've got more to come from Tim...

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