Warriors fire assistant GM D'Alessandro in shake-up of front office
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors fired assistant general manager Pete D'Alessandro on Friday and replaced him with assistant coach Larry Riley in another sign of big trouble for Chris Mullin, the club's top basketball executive.
In Mullin's first five years of running the team, D'Alessandro had been his trusted lieutenant in the basketball operations department. But D'Alessandro might soon be followed out the door by Mullin, who is losing a power struggle with team president Robert Rowell.
Riley, who will leave the Warriors' bench immediately to focus on his new job, has two decades of NBA experience in various positions with four teams. He had been a Golden State assistant coach since Don Nelson returned to the franchise as coach in 2006.
The Warriors were 2-3 heading into Friday night's game against Memphis. Last season's team missed the playoffs despite winning 48 games, the most by a non-playoff club in at least a quarter-century.
Nelson agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract extension through 2011 last month. The 68-year-old coach insists he's still on good terms with Mullin, who played for Nelson in the pair's first stint with Golden State.
Instead, the fight is between Mullin and Rowell, the longtime right-hand man of Chris Cohan, the Warriors' much-criticized owner. The Warriors' internal trouble became public when Mullin and Rowell clashed over the summer on two major decisions.
Rowell first overruled Mullin's plan to give a contract extension to point guard Baron Davis, who then opted out of his remaining contract and signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. Rowell then sharply rebuked Mullin while announcing a 30-game suspension without pay for guard Monta Ellis, who injured his leg in a motorized scooter accident just a few weeks after signing a six-year, $66 million contract.
Mullin and Nelson apparently wanted to let the incident slide without publicly embarrassing the guard, who's expected to be the centerpiece of the offense when he returns.
Rowell, who has never played or coached basketball, has risen from a job as the club's assistant controller to the presidency, and now he appears to have Cohan's approval to usurp Mullin's power in basketball decisions.
Mullin, the four-time NBA All-Star and the Warriors' franchise leader in games played, was hand-picked by Cohan to become an executive in 2002. Mullin didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
In Mullin's tenure, Golden State traded for Davis, hired Nelson and finally reached the playoffs for the first time in 13 years in 2007, even engineering a historic first-round upset of the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks.
Mullin also has signed several players to questionably lucrative long-term contracts, including underachieving forward Mike Dunleavy, center Adonal Foyle, forward Troy Murphy and guard Jason Richardson.
Yet Mullin has shown a serendipitous knack for getting out from under those contracts, memorably unloading Dunleavy and Murphy on Indiana in a one-sided trade for Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press