Mullin on Maggette and other new Warriors

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» Sat Jul 12, 2008 9:50 pm
Chris Mullin checks in on Maggette’s work ethic, Baron’s departure and everything else Warriors

Posted by Tim Kawakami on July 9th, 2008 at 10:57 pm

Figured it out: Get in my car in the late evening after writing a column, get ready to head somewhere else… that’s precisely when Chris Mullin naturally would call me back.

I appreciate that he did. I think you might, too, since he had been silent since draft night–through Baron Davis’ surprising opt-out on June 30, through BD’s agreement with the Clippers on July 1, through the Warriors’ chase of Gilbert Arenas then Elton Brand, and to the Warriors’ deal with Corey Maggette. Silence.

Then ring, ring, there’s Mullin on my cellphone.

As always, Mullin answered every question and I will write another column tomorrow totally fleshing out the big and little Warriors’ topics, as Mullin and I discussed them.

This late blog entry is just to give you the highlights of our 30-minute conversation, as I scribbled away in my car (parked on a sidestreet)…

I’ll start it with Mullin’s wink to those of us who have poked at him for his long silence while all hell broke loose. I asked him, did it concern him that, while he stayed silent, local and national NBA observers were wondering if the Warriors had a plan after losing Baron, a reaction, a voice, a process… anything?

“You mean when I’m not explaining everything that’s going on in my brain at all times?” Mullin said, laughing. “Yeah, I’m 100% fine with that. I’m fine with not explaining everything and people wondering. And not just in the NBA, but in life. In fact, that’s the only way to live. For me, definitely.”

I know, Chris. Man oh man, do I know.

Generally, asked if a team that lost Davis and added Maggette and Ronny Turiaf would be worse off, Mullin was pretty specific, but offered no guarantees:

“We’ll have to see,” Mullin said. “I don’t know yet. Nobody knows yet.

“You know, it’s not always an easy thing—was the 42-win team two years ago better than the 48-team that didn’t go to the playoffs but was in the toughest Western conference ever? Was last year’s team worse? I don’t know.

“If you’re asking, can we be better? Can we be deeper, play with more energy, share the ball more, rebound better, play a little bit better defensively? Yeah, that is possible.

“But I’m not going to predict anything. The only good prediction I know of was made by Joe Namath and that was a long time ago. That was the only worthwhile one ever.”

—–Flash analysis: More energized? Share the ball? Better defense? If I didn’t know better, I might think the Warriors’ chief was noting areas in which Mr. BD wasn’t the greatest example.

And what were his emotions over the last nine or 10 chaotic days?

“I anticipated—and I think everyone did—that it would be a really busy off-season,” Mullin said. “I guess it started that way and it continues to be.

“Yeah, it’s exciting any time you get an opportunity to do some new and exciting things. It also sometimes wracks your brain a little bit. But that’s all good.”

* A detail: Mullin said the paperwork on Ronny Turiaf’s signed offer sheet should be submitted to the league tomorrow (Thursday), which gives the Lakers until July 17 to match or let Turiaf go to the Warriors.

My understanding is that the deal is slightly front-loaded, making it a little harder for the Lakers to swallow. We’ll see. Seven days.

* Why give Maggette such a huge deal? Five years and $50M? Mullin gave a very interesting explanation, touching on some topics that raised my eyebrows.

“I really appreciate his consistency,” Mullin said. “He takes great care of himself, he’s really committed to fitness, as I said, and that’s just something we needed.

“He gets his points and rebounds. But I just think it’s his approach to the work and his lifestyle that will be a huge benefit for our young guys. They can watch him, see how he approaches it in the gym and maybe they can emulate him.”

—-Flash analysis: Again… Consistency. Takes care of himself. Physical fitness. Setting an example in the gym at practice for the young players. Those are not words or phrases you would ever associate with Baron in his Warriors career. Exact opposite.

* Was Mullin taken surprise by Baron’s decision to opt-out after he’d said for weeks that he wouldn’t?

”My feeling is (the opt-out clause) was in writing,” Mullin said. “That was always possible, whether you really expected it or not. It was what I read (in the contract). So I’ve got to plan that it might happen.

“And when the (deadline) date comes up… well, that’s when things like that usually happen. It was in black and white, it could happen, and we planned accordingly, you know, if this happens, we do this, if another scenario plays out…. The levels are different and the money is very different, but it’s kind of like draft day where you map things out and go from there.

“Really, until it was one or the other, it’s not either. So no, not surprised.”

* Mullin confirmed what Davis’ agent Todd Ramasar said: Once Baron opted out, the Warriors did not call with any further offers. Or call at all.

I asked Mullin if he treated the opt-out as the end of the Warriors’ relationship with Baron.

“Yeah. I just think that the way the scenario played out, after our conversations, once he opted-out, he was looking to go somewhere else,” Mullin said.

“Look, no one has more respect for Baron than I do. Personally and professionally, Baron did a tremendous amount for the Warriors organization. What transpired, transpired.

“But his impact will be lasting. I wish him luck. He’s an incredible player, a dynamic person. He’ll go to LA and do some great things, I’m sure. But it was time to move on…

“Obviously, we’ll miss him tremendously. He’s an incredible player—one of the top players in the league. Of course, any team would miss that.”

—–Flash analysis: I think the Warriors may not have expected Baron to opt out, but they clearly were planning for life after Baron, possibly as soon as February or at the latest, next summer.

They were not going to give him long-term money. Period. Once he opted-out, they figured he had set his mind on getting his long-term money now and probably had it set up. And Baron did have it set up with the Clippers.

* I asked Mullin if the pre-plan was that, if Baron opted-out, they would go for Brand, assuming that Baron would want to head to the Clippers… And Mullin didn’t say so, but it sure sounded like that was the plan. Which they followed.

* Here’s the reason the Warriors were not going to give Baron long-term money–Mullin wants to see what Monta Ellis does as the centerpiece on offense.

So Monta’s the point guard?

“I’d say ‘guard,’” Mullin said. “I think one of the things people are always saying is that we don’t use positions, but then the first thing we do is, OK, is he a 1 or a 2? Well, Maggette’s 2 o 3? Jack’s a 2 or a 3? Monta’s in there. I just put them all in there and say they’re players.”

Of course, Baron was a pure point guard, I added.

“Yeah, he was. I think Monta has grown in that regard,” Mullin said. “I saw him making plays last year that he wasn’t making before—you can call them point guard plays. I’m pretty comfortable with him handling the ball whenever.

“I’m pretty comfortable with him dictating a lot with the ball in his hands.”

* Mullin said negotiations with Ellis, Andris Biedrins and Kelenna Azubuike–all restricted free agents–are “ongoing.”

He has always said he was going to keep Ellis and Biedrins no matter what. Now that he has more money freed up, if possible, his certainty is even higher now, Mullin said.

* Asked directly, Mullin said he would not be filing tampering charges against the Clippers and does not believe Baron acted in any inappropriate way during the negotiations and opt-out.

“No. I never even thought about it,” Mullin said about the tampering issue.

“That was an opportunity for him and nothing more.”

Mullin also said there was no attempt to see if Davis wanted to come back to the Warriors after Brand bolted for the 76ers.


Why? Because you didn’t want Baron back or he didn’t want you back or was it out of respect for the verbal agreement? ”

You have respect for the agreement and the decision,” Mullin said. “And you move on.”

* I asked him if he thought the Warriors were close to landing Brand at any point.

“You know my feeling about “close”? You either get it or you don’t,” Mullin said. “Anything else in between, that soap opera stuff, that’s not in my wheelhouse.”

* With all the talk of plans and scenarios, I asked Mullin if he has gone through three levels, four levels, five levels of plans so far to get to Maggette and Turiaf?

“I don’t even know if I’ve gotten through the first level yet,” Mullin said. ”There are always opportunities and choices. You just have to plan for them and then don’t hesitate. When one door closes, another opens.

“When you see the opportunity, you go. You jump. I think it’s always important to do the next right hting instead of thinking about what happened. I feel that whole-heartedly. You have to plan, react and not think too much.

“I don’t worry about other people, what they’re saying, if they don’t know what’s happening. If anything, I feel more comfortable in that situation.”

So, in summary, you could do something else big?

“I hope so,” Mullin said. “I’m always into big things. But not by tomorrow, anyway.”


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