We can all now agree that Warriors vice president of basketball operations Chris Mullin knows how to make a mind-boggling move. He’s proven that silence doesn’t necessarily mean inaction and that, apparently, anything’s possible.
How else can you explain his two signature trades, both of which came out of the blue and with a certain “It just doesn’t add up” quality?
Two years ago, he recognized his team’s need for some star quality, and with no buildup or foreshadowing he snatched Baron Davis from the New Orleans Hornets for a backup point guard and an expiring contract.
He did the implausible again last week when he seemingly moved the unmovable, sending Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy to Indiana for two starters and another rotation player.
In each case, Mullin not only comprehended Warriors deficiencies, but acknowledged them and acted to correct them.
So, the obvious question is this: Who is the athletic frontcourt player Mullin will acquire?
Pau Gasol, anyone? How does Andrei Kirilenko sound? What about Rasheed Wallace?
Those of you scoffing out there don’t have a lot of credibility left. You thought the Warriors were stuck with Dunleavy and Murphy, and their big-money contracts, and Mullin moved them both. In the same deal. For Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson and Sarunas Jasikevicius, no less. And they saved $30-some million in the process.
Back in February 2005, Mullin acquired Davis from the Hornets for Speedy Claxton (OK, he’s starting now for Atlanta, but still) and Dale Davis.
Are you detecting a theme here? Harrington and Jasikevicius
weren’t fitting in for the Indiana Pacers, and Jackson simply had to go. Davis had run his course in New Orleans. Apparently, Mullin believes all it takes is one transaction to make a disgruntled player gruntled.
The disclaimer is that these two moves have yet to pay playoff dividends. Davis, for all his talent, is still working on getting the Warriors over the hump. And Harrington, Jackson, et al., haven’t proven they can or can’t help because they’ve just gotten here.
But the moves themselves are the issue here. They’ve been both confounding and hope-inspiring.
The only problem with those two trades is they set a ridiculously high standard for the next one. Is Kevin Garnett on his way here? Who knows? But it sure seems less unlikely today than it did a week ago.
Maybe Mullin’s next move will be more subtle, say for a Francisco Elson, Nazr Mohammed or Stromile Swift. It’s impossible to know.
But know this: If you and I can see that the Warriors are getting hurt too much by the likes of Ronny Turiaf, Anderson Varejao and Reggie Evans — not to mention the real big boys such as Dwight Howard, Amare Stoudemire and Marcus Camby — Mullin sees it, too.
And if Mullin sees it, we now know that he’s working on it.
Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.