Mullin' Over a Trade
Why the Warrior wants out
Born-again Christian helps the Hawks to take flight
Horry plays, Kersey rests
As if the Warriors didn't have enough problems—with a 1-15 record against winning teams through Sunday, forward Donyell Marshall suspended for one game after an argument on Dec. 31 with assistant coach George Irvine, and guard Mark Price storming out of practice on Jan. 2 after disputing a noncall in a scrimmage—now forward Chris Mullin. the pillar of Golden State for the last 12 seasons, wants out.
Team and league sources say that the 33-year-old Mullin, a five-time All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist who has never gone further in the postseason than the conference semifinals, has asked the Warriors to trade him to a title contender. The sources also say that probable playoff teams from both conferences—include the Pacers and the Magic on that list—have inquired about Mullin. But Golden State is intent on getting what it considers equal value for its co-captain (with guard Latrell Sprewell) and all-time steals leader who at week's end was averaging 14.3 points per game. That may not be easy, given that since the 1992-93 season Mullin has missed 141 of 366 games because of a variety of injuries (among them, sprained knee and torn thumb and finger ligaments).
Former Warriors center Rony Seikaly, whom Golden State traded to Orlando in November, says Mullin's frustration is bubbling over. "Mully wants out—badly," says Seikaly. "But the Warriors aren't even showing him enough respect to let him go. A class guy like Chris, who is all about team, and he's stuck there. It's sad."
Mullin would not talk to SI about his desire to leave Golden State. When asked if Mullin had requested a trade, Warriors general manager Dave Twardzik responded, "I'm sorry. Even if he did, I'd never say."
While his Golden State teammates are hesitant to rock an already shaky boat, two of them (who asked not to be identified) say Mullin's unhappiness has been apparent for months. They say he feels like an afterthought in the Warriors" offense. (He was averaging 1.0.1 shots in 35.3 minutes through Sunday.) Moreover, according to the two players, Mullin feels Golden State is directionless, on and off the court. Last month he and other players complained that the Warriors' practice facility, in Moraga, is too long a ride (about 50 miles) from the San Jose Arena, where the Warriors are playing this season while renovations arc completed on Oakland Coliseum Arena.
Although Sprewell and power forward Joe Smith are having monster years, last Saturday's 108-93 loss at Minnesota left Golden State at 15-23 and mired in fifth place in the seven-team Pacific Division. The Warriors had surrendered 103.4 points a game, the second most in the league. Twardzik insists that coach Rick Adelman's job is not in jeopardy, although Twardzik concedes being disappointed in Golden State's poor showing. "I knew we might be taking a step backward," he says, referring to the many personnel moves that have altered the roster and team chemistry in the last three seasons, "but I didn't know we'd take two steps backward." (Last week the Warriors were discussing yet another swap, which would send guard B.J. Armstrong to the Pistons for swingman Stacey Augmon.)
Golden State's reluctance to deal Mullin might be the result of its recent history of ill-fated trades. They date back to 1994, when Don Nelson was the coach and disgruntled forward Chris Webber said he would re-sign with the Warriors only if they had a trade for him worked out within 48 hours after the signing. That November, Golden State duly shipped Webber to the Bullets for forward Tom Gugliotta and three first-round choices. Three months later Gugliotta was sent to the Timberwolves for Marshall, who was the No. 4 pick in the '94 draft and has been a bust. Last season, when point guard Tim Hardaway became disillusioned with Warriors management, he and forward-center Chris Gatling were dealt to the Heat. Last fall Seikaly, too, openly campaigned for a trade and went to the Magic. It hasn't helped the image of Golden State's management that at week's end Gatling (now with the Mavericks), Gugliotta and Webber led their teams in scoring and Hardaway was being mentioned as a
Mullin has not gone public with his disenchantment. He has been a company man throughout his career in the Bay Area, and, team sources say, he would rather not force a trade by resorting to disruptive behavior. That's why the Warriors should follow the lead of the Nets, who in 1989 traded their loyal, long-suffering forward Buck Williams to the Trail Blazers for center Sam Bowie and a draft pick. After all Williams's years of service, New Jersey felt he deserved a chance to win it all.