In Warriors' world, great minds think alike
Janny Hu, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Even the like-minded go their separate ways. Chris Mullin is reminded of that every time he shows up at the Warriors' practice facility for another round of draft evaluations with coach Don Nelson.
"He goes out on the deck and smokes a cigar, and I go on the treadmill," Mullin says with a laugh. "But after that? Then we get together and watch a workout. Then it starts coming together."
It's been coming together ever since Mullin brought his Run TMC coach out of retirement last August for a rejuvenating second tour through Oakland. After a midseason roster shake-up and return to health, the Warriors needed just two months to morph into playoff darlings from league afterthoughts.
As Golden State's vice president and coach mind meld this summer for their first draft together, Mullin believes the two have been simpatico in just about every respect.
"Personally, it's kind of fun, sitting and watching and talking about (draft prospects)," he says. "It's been good. It's been helpful to me. A lot of times, even from a distance, we see very similar things."
Whether the Warriors trade up, trade down or hold firm with the 18th pick in Thursday's draft -- and arguments can indeed be made for all three cases -- no one disputes that the final decision will be made by both Mullin and Nelson.
The coach skipped the league's official predraft camp in Orlando, where most first-round picks showed up for physicals only. But since he returned from his three-week Hawaiian vacation, Nelson has attended every workout the Warriors have held and broken down film with Mullin and his staff.
That has helped the Warriors transition out of former GM Rod Higgins' tenure -- he left last month for the same position with the Charlotte Bobcats. Though Higgins oversaw the team's draft and scouting operations, Mullin is opting not to replace him, relying on Nelson for now as his most important structural support.
Team officials say it isn't unusual for the pair to be watching an audition and have identical reactions without saying a word, and Mullin acknowledges that Golden State's evaluation process might differ from other teams because of its specific offensive style.
Nelson loves skilled, multi-positional players who can cause matchup problems for the opposition. Mullin wants to find them, and if he can get size and rebounding at the same time, all the better.
"When it comes to personnel and/or a player, a lot of times it's not right or wrong," Mullin says. "The answer comes after that down the road. You can have opinions that completely change."
And they have. Whereas last season began with the belief that Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy could yield a successful small-ball lineup, that aura quickly disappeared. Nelson shelved the experiment after one game and made it clear that things weren't working.
A few months later, Murphy and Dunleavy -- both of whom had already been shopped before Nelson arrived -- were off to Indiana for Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson in a deal that has worked wonders so far for the Warriors, to say nothing of the future salary-cap relief it provided.
Another crossroad is coming. Repeating their charmed playoff run looks considerably harder with San Antonio still the class of the Western Conference; Phoenix, Minnesota, Utah and the Lakers all immersed in trade speculation involving star players; and Portland and Seattle about to add Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.
Warriors' upstarts Andris Biedrins and Monta Ellis will be up for big money soon and Baron Davis wants an extension. But the Mullin-Nelson dynamic may ultimately be decided by the fate of Jason Richardson, a Mullin favorite who had an uneven and injury-filled first year under Nelson.
Mullin has publicly said he will not trade Richardson, but a league source indicated that Golden State has had exploratory conversations with at least one team, including a division rival, about moving the sixth-year guard.
A look at draft histories shows Nelson as a mover-and-shaker. With the Mavericks, he pulled draft-day coups that netted Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, as well as less successful moves for players like Chris Anstey and Leon Smith.
Mullin has yet to swing a deal. The Warriors have drafted a big man in the first round for three straight years, beginning with Biedrins (11th) in 2004 followed by Ike Diogu (ninth) in 2005 and Patrick O'Bryant (ninth) last year. Diogu was shipped to the Pacers and O'Bryant struggled last year, but second-rounder Ellis has turned out to be the gem of the Warriors' recent drafts.
Whatever happens beginning this week, Mullin insists the war room won't come down to last-minute squabbling or power plays. If there's a player he likes that Nelson isn't sold on, or vice versa, those debates will have already been hammered out.
"I've been around him a long time," Mullin says. "We have a lot of the same feelings. That narrows it down. Some guys can work. Some guys cannot."
2007 NBA draft
When: Thursday, 4 p.m.
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
Warriors picks: 18th overall in the first round; 36th and 46th overall in the second round.
9. Chicago (from New York)
11. Atlanta (from Indiana)
13. New Orleans
14. L.A. Clippers
15. Detroit (from Orlando)
17. New Jersey
19. L.A. Lakers
21. Philadelphia (from Denver)
22. Charlotte (from Toronto via Cleveland)
23. New York (from Chicago) - (2)
24. Phoenix (from Cleveland via Boston)
28. San Antonio
30. Philadelphia (from Dallas via Warriors and Denver)
31. Seattle (from Memphis)
33. San Antonio (from Milwaukee)
34. Dallas (from Atlanta)
36. Warriors (from Minnesota)
38. Philadelphia (from New York via Chicago)
39. Miami (from Sacramento)
40. L.A. Lakers (from Charlotte)
41. Minnesota (from Philadelphia)
42. Portland (from Indiana)
43. New Orleans
45. L.A. Clippers
46. Warriors (from New Jersey)
48. L.A. Lakers
49. Chicago (from Warriors via Phoenix, Boston and Denver)
50. Dallas (from Miami via L.A. Lakers)
51. Chicago (from Denver)
52. Portland (from Toronto)
53. Portland (from Chicago)
54. Orlando (from Cleveland)
56. Milwaukee (from Houston)
58. San Antonio
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9 posts • Page 1 of 1
Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2004 9:05 am
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The Broe Knows Dont Hate....
Hall of Famer
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2005 10:03 pm
Location: Golden State
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If this is true, I'm gonna cry.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS DIE HARD
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2006 11:07 pm
Location: Land of the Lacob.
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Ron Simmons says it the best.... *long pause* DAMN.
Well, it depends on what "oversaw" means. If it means "hey, Rod, did you like him as much as I did?", then we're alright.
We'll see what happens now that he's gone, but keep in mind he also oversaw Washington's draft when they picked Kwame with the first overall pick.
That's only if MJ allows him to do anything there, which I really doubt.
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Getting paid for doing fukall is not bad though
migya make the ring fall on ya
Yep. Just ask Adonal.
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