Steinmetz: Mullin’s still hard on the job

The Warriors finished the 2006-07 season by winning nine of their last 10 regular-season games, 16 of their final 21 and earned their first playoff berth in 13 years. They then proceeded to pull off one of the greatest upsets in NBA playoffs history by knocking off the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in six games.

Along the way, the Warriors and their fans became one of the most compelling stories the league had to offer.

Apparently, Chris Mullin was not impressed.

After all, he’s in the process of remaking the roster of the first Warriors team to make thepostseason since 1994.

Say what you want about Mullin, the Warriors’ executive vice president of basketball operations, but don’t say he’s complacent. Rather than playing it safe — which would have meant drafting 18th and trying to ride the momentum wave from last season — Mullin is reconfiguring.

A 42-40 record might sound like wonderful numbers to Bay Area fans, but to Mullin, it’s too close to mediocrity.

Mullin already has traded the face of the franchise (Jason Richardson) and, by all appearances, two more important role players are likely gone: Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus.

Two rookies — Marco Belinelli and Brandan Wright — will surely get an opportunity in 2007-08, while another newcomer, Kosta Perovic, is a wild card who is likely to get run. Kelenna Azubuike, who had a limited role last season, is going to be on the floor more this year after signing a two-year contract.

Who knows? The Warriors also might even have a new coach.

By every indication, Mullin is far from done. There is talk of the Warriors trying to acquire swingman James Posey and, of course, the Kevin Garnett talk won’t go away.

Whether or not the Warriors can pull off a blockbuster for Garnett remains to be seen. It’s obvious Mullin is itching to get more done. Surely, it would be more surprising if Mullin didn’t make another move this offseason than if he did.

Don’t be too discouraged that a second big move hasn’t happened yet. The Warriors’ recent history suggests plenty can happen in August. The Warriors traded Erick Dampier to Dallas in August 2004 and moved Antawn Jamison for Nick Van Exel in August 2003.

Things are just getting started.

Toward the end of last season, Mullin was asked why it was important for the Warriors to make the playoffs. He replied that making the playoffs was a necessary first step for a franchise that hadn’t been there in a while, but that merely making the playoffs wasn’t that big of a deal.

Mullin said that the Warriors needed to make the playoffs so “then we can really do something.”

That something is happening right now.

Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.


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