Chris Mullin's Last Days?
A Warrior at Heart
On the surface it was just another in the seemingly endless stream of injury reports from the Warriors this season. Yet when the team placed Chris Mullin on the injured list with a strained lower back last week to make way for the return of Erick Dampier, it was more than a routine roster move. It was most likely the end of Mullin's season—and his remarkable 16-year career.
Mullin says he won't decide whether to quit until the summer, but if he does, it will be fitting that he retired with Golden State, for which he was a five-time All-Star, from 1988-89 to '92-93, and the closest thing San Francisco had to Joe Montana with a jump shot. An original Dream Teamer and probable I hill of Famer, Mullin, 37, holds franchise records for games played and for steals. To Warriors fans his return this season was a reminder of glory days past, when Mully was nailing lefthanded jumpers along the baseline and Don Nelson was concocting quirky lineups like a mad scientist.
Nostalgia aside, this wasn't how Mullin envisioned his final season. At week's end he was averaging 5.8 points for the 16-44 team he chose after leaving the Pacers as a free agent. Actually, Mullin hadn't even thought of returning to the Bay Area until late September. In town to visit friends, he headed to the Warriors' practice facility for some pickup games. Within days general manager Garry St. Jean's office had received a stream of players making pleas for the team to sign Mullin. "They were like kids in a candy store," says St. Jean. "Everything Chris does makes basketball sense, and he's so willing to help out."
With no offer from the Lakers, who had contacted him about a possible deal, Mullin returned to the Bay Area with a one-year, $1 million contract and the promise of a front-office position upon retirement. He hoped to continue teaching younger teammates, as he had in Indiana, and while he has been an inspirational figure, it has proven difficult to tutor guys who are on crutches.
So what's next for Mullin? Most likely a position in player development and evaluation. "I've gotten more than I expected, or probably deserved, from this game, and I leave with a smile," he says. "Who knows, though. If they put that 2-3 zone in, I might just make a major comeback.
The Deals of David Falk
Is He Too Close To Michael?
When the Wizards released troublesome point guard Rod Strickland on March 1, there were complaints around the league of a conflict of interest involving team president Michael Jordan and the agent who represented him as a player, David Falk. Falk's firm, SFX, continues to handle Jordan's marketing interests. SFX also represents Strickland.
Hogwash, says Falk. The settlement saved the Wizards $2.5 million while they rid themselves of an unwanted player; it also freed Strickland almost to break even by accepting a $2.25 million contract exception from the Trail Blazers on Monday, which he hopes will enable him to raise his value before he becomes a free agent this summer. "The fact that we have a good relationship makes it easier to do this kind of deal," Falk says of himself and Jordan.
An NBA spokesman says the league did not see any conflict of interest An official from the players' union, which has the power to decertify agents, said, "We are aware of the appearance [of conflict of interest], and there has been an ongoing dialogue" about it between Falk and the union.