Warriors Power Struggle; Stanford Band; Rafael Furcal
by Glenn Dickey
Nov 26, 2008

IF THE Warriors trade for Jamal Crawford turns out well, as I think it will, it’s going to be much harder for Bobby Rowell to push Chris Mullin out the door.

One of the unfortunate hallmarks of the Chris Cohan ownership, one that puts him in the Bay Area Hall of Shame with Al Davis, John York and Lew Wolff, is his penchant for putting his San Luis Obispo buddies into positions of power.

Rowell is the latest. He’s had two goals, to solidify his position – his full-page picture in the media guide is ahead of bios for Cohan, Mullin and Don Nelson – and to protect Cohan’s pocketbook, even if it hurts the team. That’s brought him into direct conflict with Mullin, who is trying to put together a strong team.

The first conflict was over Baron Davis. With his injury history, it certainly wouldn’t have been a good idea to give Davis the five-year contract he sought, but he and Mullin were apprently talking about a more reasonable two-year deal. Several people have said Davis was ready to sign, the latest being former Warrior Gilbert Arenas, who said he had talked to Davis the night before free agency opened and Davis had told him he was staying in Oakland. But the deal with the Warriors wasn’t made – you don’t have to be an Einstein to figure out that Rowell wouldn’t approve it – and Davis bolted for the Clippers. He got the five-year deal he wanted, but when Elton Brand left, he found himself with a miserable team.

Meanwhile, the Warriors had no point guard. The plan to put Monta Ellis at the point, though he has been an erratic ballhandler in his short career, had to be junked when Ellis had a moped accident which has kept him out of the action.

Rowell, protecting the owner’s pocketbook again, moved to dock Ellis’s pay and has even threatened to fine Ellis even more. Mullin has opposed that because he knows, from his own playing experience, that it’s very shortsighted to alienate a player you think is going to be a big part of your future.

Having lost those two battles, Mullin appeared to be on the way out, especially when Larry Riley, Nelson’s closest coaching buddy, replaced Pete D’Allesandro as assistant general manager, obviously in position to take over when Mullin was fired. (Nelson’s position in this intrigue is not clear because he and Mullin have always been close. I don’t agree with the supposition that Nelson wants to control everything, as he did in his previous stint with the Warriors, because Mullin has made the trades he’s
wanted. How much more could he get with Riley?)

But now, Mullin has produced an apparent coup, getting rid of malcontent Al Harrington, who wasn’t even playing, for Crawford, who appears to be just what they need, a point guard who is also a scoring threat.

The Knicks were willing to trade Crawford because they’re trying to clear cap room for the LeBron James sweepstakes, when he becomes a free agent.

Mullin is trying to build a Warriors team which can be competitive for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Crawford should be a big help immediately and will be an even bigger help when Ellis returns and can play his natural role as a shooting guard.

Mullin has made his mistakes since he’s been in charge of basketball operations, but he’s also made some great moves, including a midseason trade for Davis and another midseason trade that got rid of two players who didn’t fit Nelson’s system, Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy, and brought in Harrington and Stephen Jackson. Harrington had been a disappointment but Jackson has been a key figure in the Warriors’ resurgence.

His drafts have focused on big players. The steadily improving Andris Biedrins has become a fixture in the middle, starting the season with 10 straight games in which he had a double-double, scoring and rebounding in double figures. Everybody thinks this year’s No. 1, Anthony Randolph, is a star in the making and last year’s No. 1, Brandon Wright, is a solid player, though it’s sometimes hard to tell because Nelson doesn’t like to play the young bigs.

Will this be enough to save Mullin? Probably not. It’s hard to win a power struggle if your opponent has the owner’s ear, even if his victory would be counter-productive for the Warriors.

GIVE ‘EM THE HOOK: The Stanford band put on another tasteless display at halftime of the Big Game, a “humorous” skit about earthquakes. Since I live virtually on top of the same fault that runs under Memorial Stadium, you’ll pardon me for not laughing.

The Stanford band was a breath of fresh air in the tightly-wound ‘60s, but their time has long since passed. Now, it’s just an embarrassment. They’ve had episodes of drunkenness and they’ll never play again at Notre Dame because of their sacrilegious taunts of the Catholic Church. I’m not a supporter of the Catholic Church – I think the church in California should be reclassified as a Political Action Committee for its campaign for Proposition 8 – but the band went much too far, as usual.

The Stanford administration should just pull the plug on this sorry group.

NFL TELECASTS: Since both pro teams were on the road last Sunday, I watched them on TV and was tortured by constant updates from other games, in addition to the endless streaming of scores and statistics at the bottom of the screen.

Has it ever occurred to TV executives that the viewers who turn into a game actually want to watch that game? The halftime reports give them ample chances to catch up with the other games.

FREE AGENCY: Shortstop Rafael Furcal, though he’s 33 and coming off a year in which he was injured and played only 36 games, will probably get offers from the A’s, Giants and Atlanta Braves.

My money is on the Giants because they’ll overpay. It’s what Brian Sabean always does.

E-MAIL: Once again, I remind readers to clean out your accounts so when I reply to your e-mail, it can be delivered.

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