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Q&A: Marcus Thompson - Contra Costa Times / (Part 2 of 3)- Don Nelson's media downfall, Chris Mullin as a front office hire, Chris Cohan's closeness to selling the Golden State Warriors

In Part 1 Marcus Thompson shared some bright spots on the Golden State Warriors dismal 2009-2010 campaign, players likely to be traded out of Oakland, and Robert Rowell's role in making basketball decisions.


[Inside the Warriors]

In this part MT dissects Nellie's media downfall, whether Mullin is a good front office hire, and how close Cohan is to selling the Warriors.

Golden State of Mind: After a string of 8 coaches during the Warriors 12 year playoff drought, Don Nelson was "the rebirth of cool" for this franchise back in 2006. He was an instant media darling. The Warriors improbable run to qualify for the 2007 NBA Playoffs and their exciting playoff run only cemented his darling status. But a little over two years later it seems like there's a daily piece from either the local Bay Area or national media questioning his every coaching decision and even his character. What specific events do you think caused Nellie's media downfall?

Marcus Thompson: Any instances causing Nellie's "media downfall" are inherently linked to his last stint with the Warriors. So I think all of it is tied to the bad break-up he had with Golden State the first time, especially handling of rookie stud Chris Webber.

With that said, his relationship with Chris Mullin, and the way he handled notoriously good guys in Al Harrington and Jamal Crawford, really made him look like the villain.

The perception was that Mullin and Nellie were linked, tight, best friends. That's how it was played when they brought Nelson back. I'm not going to presume to know what happened behind the scenes. I know what I've heard, and what I believe, but that's all speculation. Members of the organization will say and have said any talk of Nelson pushing Mullin out or getting him fired is nonsense. But what can't be overlooked was the lack of support Nelson showed Mullin publicly.

Considering how close those two were supposed to be, considering Mullin brought Nelson in, where was the outcry for Mullin to stick around from Nellie? Where was his lobbying for Mullin to keep his job and this winning pair to stick together? What's not said is sometimes as powerful as what is said. I think that led to the perception, whether true or false, that Nelson had thrown Mullin under the bus. And considering Mullin had made the moves that led to the turn around, that left Nelson as the easy target as the bad guy.

Then you throw in Nellie's conflicts with Harrington, one of the happy-go-luckiest guys you'll ever meet, and Crawford, another guy who is perhaps to professional and stand-up for his own good. I think those situations made Nelson look meddlesome.You starting putting all these things together, plus the past, plus serious questions about whether Nellie ball even works at a high level, plus public beef with Mark Cuban and agents talking bad about him, and it's easy to see why Nellie's reputation has taken a hit.


Golden State of Mind: Much was made about Chris Mullin's dismissal from the Warriors front office. Months have elapsed since the Warriors let him go and he still does not have another front office job. How much interest is there around the league in bringing him on as a front office executive? You covered his entire tenure as a VP of the Warriors from draft picks to trades to contract negotiations. Is he a good front office hire?

Marcus Thompson: I still think he will end up in New York with Donny Walsh. And I do think he is a good front office hire. He has relationships around the league. He has a pretty good eye for talent. And players love him because of his style of management. Say what you want about Mullin and his bad contracts, but he has his understanding of how to build a franchise. It has its holes, but it makes some sense. You make the franchise a place where players want to play, and they will come. You get players and you will win.

Of course, Mullin did that by overpaying guys to lend some kind of credibility to the franchise. Plus he gets enamored with players and he is loyal to them even when they are proving unworthy of the loyalty. But only one player ever left the Warriors unhappy because of Mullin, and that was Jason Richardson. And the reason he was unhappy was because he didn't want to leave.

Mullin, just like anyone else in the franchise, hasn't done anything yet. But I think over time he had a chance to be a pretty good GM. He has a much better chance under an owner who doesn't mind spending money, because his philosophy can be expensive. Plus some in the organization said he lets the players get away with murder, and there is probably some validity to that.

But since neither philosophy has won anything in Golden State, its hard to choose whose idea of how to run a franchise is better. You might have to lean towards Mullin's because they had their most success in recent years under him.


Golden State of Mind: How close is Chris Cohan to selling the Warriors? Are there any updates about that topic? Give us a prediction- when will he finally sell and to who?

Marcus Thompson: I don't think he's close. To be sure, the process to sell a team takes two or three years anyway. So even if he had an offer right now that he was willing to accept, the sale probably wouldn't go through for two years. I think he's got a number in mind that no one is going to reach. Not in this economy. Not on this team. Now, if the IRS knocks on his door demanding $200 million in taxes owed, that might change things. But Cohan's best business move might be to hold on until the team turns it around, thereby raising the offers if he believes things will turnaround.


Keep it locked for the third episode!

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