Warriors cut ties with VP Mullin
Larry Riley, an assistant under coach Don Nelson, will take over Mullin's duties
Mullin and president Robert Rowell had their share of noted personnel clashes
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The Golden State Warriors finally cut ties with top basketball executive Chris Mullin on Monday, nearly a year after the former star player apparently lost his authority to run the troubled franchise.
Mullin, the Warriors' executive vice president of basketball operations, will be replaced by Larry Riley, a longtime assistant to coach Don Nelson.
Riley, an assistant general manager since last November, was promoted to general manager in a statement by team president Robert Rowell, whose rise in the Warriors' power structure mirrored Mullin's fall in recent years.
"It's never an easy decision to make a change," said Rowell, who publicly disagreed with Mullin on two important decisions last year. "This case is compounded by the fact it involves Chris Mullin -- someone who has provided Bay Area fans with many great memories over the years, as both a player and executive. He's a class individual who will always be remembered for his accomplishments with the Warriors organization."
Mullin didn't immediately return a call to his cell phone seeking comment.
Mullin's contract won't be renewed after it ends June 30, but the former U.S. Olympian and St. John's star has been on the outs with Rowell for much longer. They clashed last summer over decisions on a contract extension for Baron Davis and a suspension for injured guard Monta Ellis, with Rowell apparently overruling Mullin both times.
Riley, a veteran NBA assistant coach and personnel executive, has been an assistant GM since last November when the Warriors abruptly fired Pete D'Alessandro, Mullin's longtime right-hand man. Mullin quickly retreated from public view, refusing most interview requests and rarely showing his face to reporters or fans at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors improbably refused to acknowledge a clear change in their hierarchy during their recently completed 29-53 season, even while Mullin stopped speaking publicly about the franchise and Rowell became more prominent. Nelson, who has been embroiled in power struggles at nearly every stop in his 30-year coaching career, didn't acknowledge the drama around Mullin, who played for Nelson during their first stints with the club.
Rowell, who never played or coached in the NBA, has taken a prominent role with the franchise in the past two years. It's yet another change of course by owner Chris Cohan, who once was Mullin's most ardent supporter after grooming the five-time All-Star forward for the top executive job.
The basketball-crazy Bay Area's long-troubled franchise has made the playoffs just once during Cohan's ownership since 1994. Mullin and Nelson put together the club that stunned top-seeded Dallas in the 2007 playoffs, and the 2008 squad barely missed the postseason despite winning 48 games, the most by a non-playoff NBA team in a quarter-century.
But Rowell's apparent displeasure with Mullin became public last summer when the Warriors allowed Davis, their top scorer and the star of their 2007 success, to leave for the Los Angeles Clippers as a free agent. Mullin and Davis were thought to be close to a contract extension before Rowell vetoed it.
Rowell then overruled Mullin again later in the summer after Ellis, their high-scoring young guard, seriously injured his ankle in a motorized scooter crash shortly after signing a six-year, $66 million contract extension. Mullin argued against a suspension or fine for Ellis, but Rowell publicly reprimanded Mullin and ordered a 30-game suspension without pay.
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