As reported earlier today by the NBA, the Warriors have elected to not renew the contract of Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Chris Mullin. The Warriors then hired Larry Riley as the team's new general manager.
Mullin was rumored to be fired by the team for the previous few months, but the move to not renew his contract may have been the best way to quietly handle the situation.
Mullin, a Bay Area favorite from his playing days with the Warriors, was more than just the man handling contracts and trade talks with the team. He was a man who cared about the team that drafted him and he wanted to help them win.
Mullin stepped onto the scene in the late 1980s. With Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond, they formed a dynamic trio on the court known as "Run TMC." Mullin would spend 13 of his 16-year career playing for the Warriors and during that time span, he also was part of the 1992 gold medal-winning Dream Team.
But as the Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations, Mullin made some questionable moves.
In an attempt to bring the playoffs back the Bay Area, Mullin handed out large contracts to players like Adonal Foyle and Derek Fisher. Those did not turn out well. And in order to try to save his own mistakes, Mullin then made the three biggest moves in recent franchise history.
On February 24, 2005, Mullin orchestrated a trade that changed the dynamic of the team. In exchange for Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis, the Warriors received All-Star point guard Baron Davis. The Warriors got hot for the remainder of the season and looked to carry the momentum into the next year.
But with a clash of playing style with then head coach Mike Montgomery (another Mullin mistake), Mullin convinced his old coach Don Nelson to return to the Warriors after the 2005-05 season.
With Nelson's up-tempo style offense and Davis running the point, the team was poised to return to the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. But after a slow start to the 2006-2007 season, Mullin knew the team needed one more push. Then came Mullin's best move.
The Warriors and Pacers made a trade on January 18, 2007. The Warriors sent Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Ike Diogu and Keith McLeod to Indiana for Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Josh Powell. Mullin traded away some draft day mistakes for some players that he felt would help the team in that final playoff push.
Well, the rest is history. The Warriors made the playoffs and made everyone a believer. They eliminated the Mavericks in the first round in what I believe is my most memorable moment as a sports fan.
The next two seasons would be filled with a terrible contract communication (Baron Davis leaves to go to LA), hefty contracts to a budding star (then Monta Ellis decides to get on a moped) and a disgruntled forward (Al Harrington gets traded to New York). There would be disagreements all throughout the front office this past season and it was just time for Mullin to go.
It's a sad thing to see a guy that meant so much to the organization as a player and Executive VP to be kicked to the curb. Well, he wasn't really kicked rather just told it was time to go. I think that was the team's way of saying "thank you, but we're going in another direction."
And whatever direction the team does head onto now, I still have to thank Mullin for what he did. For all those mistakes he made, he did bring us that one magical season. And that one magical season took away 13 years of painful heartache.
Mullin did hurt the team this past year and it might take a long time for the team to recover. But I'll look the other way right now, because in my hindsight, I still see Oracle arena filled with fans in "We Believe" t-shirts. And that I can never forget.