Ailene Voisin, sports columnist
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  • RANDY PENCH / rpench@sacbee.com

    New Kings adviser Chris Mullin takes questions from the media after his introductory news conference Tuesday.

  • RANDY PENCH / rpench@sacbee.com

    Chris Mullin appears at a news conference Tuesday at the Kings' practice facility. Principal owner Vivek Ranadive called him "iconic."

  • Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin: Mullin looks forward to advisory role with Kings

Published: Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013 - 5:12 pm

Assemble three eager, aggressive, accomplished men in an office. Toss in a basketball. Factor in a backdrop of intense scrutiny and a community that hangs on every move, every word and, yes, every sighting, and what do you get?

Impassioned debates. Occasional disagreements. Bumps and bruises.

But Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive was just kidding about the source of those nasty abrasions discoloring the left side of his face. The cause was a recent bicycle spill, he revealed after the laughter subsided during Chris Mullin's introductory news conference, not an argument with general manager Pete D'Alessandro.

All joking aside, Ranadive is piecing together an impressive basketball operations department. Chip Schaefer – the highly regarded trainer who for years tended to the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers and was seemingly forever attached to Phil Jackson's bad hips – has been hired as the team's new strength coach.

But Tuesday was all about Mullin, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer who was introduced as Ranadive's consigliere – "my Jerry West," as the owner phrased it – before another crowded media gathering in the team's practice facility. The addition of the longtime Warriors star and former executive completes a front office that also includes assistant general manager Mike Bratz and Shareef Abdur-Rahim as player personnel director and head of the team's NBA Development League affiliate in Reno.

Mullin's hiring comes as no surprise. During his time as Warriors minority owner, Ranadive grew to like and admire the former star. He also liked the idea of including a high-profile NBA figure in his organization and has been seeking Mullin's input since he assumed control of the franchise.

"I was looking for somebody who was iconic," Ranadive said, "and Chris is iconic. He represents what is great about basketball. Hard work. Teamwork. Excellence. He is part of the model."

The question was whether Ranadive could craft a position that attracted Mullin and meshed with his other hires, primarily D'Alessandro, Bratz and coach Michael Malone.

There is a history here, a Warriors-centric history with the potential for a terribly awkward dynamic: Ranadive is a former Warriors minority owner. Mullin is a former Warriors executive vice president. D'Alessandro is a former Warriors assistant general manager who was hired by Mullin, his fellow St. John's alum and friend for about 25 years.

That theory about three people in the bed? Too many chefs in the kitchen? Three being a crowd?

I don't think so. I think this works. In this ongoing Kings craziness – a good craziness – square pegs fit in round holes.

Mullin is a gentleman and D'Alessandro is a scholar, and in today's NBA, their skill sets are complementary. D'Alessandro is an attorney, a well-regarded front-office executive and a former player agent. Mullin is a basketball legend who can gain access to any gym in the world and has been itching for another front-office position.

Evaluating his tenure as a former Warriors executive (2004-09) is sort of like trying to finish a puzzle after the dog has devoured half the pieces. Among other things, he drafted Monta Ellis, traded for Baron Davis, acquired Stephen Jackson, brought Don Nelson out of retirement and reintroduced the Warriors to the playoffs (2007).

There were poor drafts and trades and regrettable signings as well. GM's eventually plead guilty to all of the above. But Mullin also was victimized by Chris Cohan's dysfunctional ownership, Robert Rowell's back-room dealing, and the still-puzzling strain in his relationship with his mentor, Nelson.

"I would say 34, 42, 48 wins," said Mullin. "We continued improving when I was there. I had some opportunities, some scenarios these last few years, but I always focused on who I'm joining up with as opposed to where it is, or what title it is. And there were no scenarios that came like this. It starts with the people. Knowing this market, and this area. Then looking to the future with the new arena. The vision is right there, on the horizon. This just seemed like a perfect fit."

DeMarcus Cousins intrigues. Jimmer Fredette impresses as a shooter. Mullin loves the acquisition of pass-first point guard Greivis Vasquez and pushed hard for first-round draft choice Ben McLemore.

But his standards are off the charts. Seated in an office after the formal media session, Mullin recalled his experiences with the original Dream Team in 1992, including innumerable fast breaks where the ball never touched the floor.

His overriding criticism of the Kings thus comes as no surprise. "Pass the ball," he said. "Can this team play better together? Unselfish play wins."

Asked if he intended to maintain a high profile or more of a behind-the-scenes presence, Mullin nodded and smiled. "Whatever Vivek wants," he said, "but you can't have too many voices."

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.


Call The Bee's Ailene Voisin (916) 321-1208 and follow her on Twitter @ailene_voisin.

Read more articles by Ailene Voisin



Ailene Voisin, sports columnist

Ailene Voisin

Ailene Voisin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. She earned a bachelor's degree in political science from UNLV and a law degree from the University of San Diego before committing full time to journalism.

Her career includes stops at the San Diego Union, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and time spent as the backup beat writer for Dodgers and Angels, Clippers and NBA beat writer, sports columnist, along with numerous assignments covering international events and the Olympics. Ailene joined The Sacramento Bee in 1997.

Email: avoisin@sacbee.com
Phone: 916-321-1208
Twitter: @ailene_voisin

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