But this regime is (crossed fingers knocking wood) on its last legs, and we should stand ready for the autopsy. And when you're examining a rotting fish, it's best to start with the head. So let's look at what we know and what we think we know.
Tim Kawakami has done a crackerjack job of following this stuation on his blog... an entry from June 21st sums up the state of play pretty well. Basically, Chris Cohan started soliciting bids for the franchise in late April, with the help of auctioneer/sports financier extraordinaire Sal Galatioto. Several groups submitted bids in late May. How many groups? Who were these groups? How much did they bid? Thanks to the usual Cohanic blend of secrecy, coyness and just plain bullshit, we don't quite know. But it's reasonable to assume that 1) Larry Ellison, who cleverly allied himself with the current minority owners, is still the guy to beat, 2) Ellison's in no real rush, 3) a group led by 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov is still in the picture, and 4) Cohan isn't likely to get the record $400+ million dollar offer he was hoping for. Awww.
Until a sale finalizes (which could be months), the acting basketball folks are in as pure of a lame-duck position as you can find on the current American pro sports landscape. All of them will almost definitely be fired when a new owner takes charge (and thank the good Lord for that)... in the interim, they're tasked with the job of keeping the team looking all shiny and young and affordable. How're they doing with that task?
The General Manager
Say this for Larry Riley: he has taken every bullet that ownership's asked him to take. He's not only traded three big contracts for junk, but has come out front and center in defense of those trades, weathering all the lumps that another GM might've shunted upstairs. As recently as Friday, Riley was out there in an awkward situation, defending another salary dump and another unpopular draft pick. He folksied his way through decently enough.
As last autumn's neglect of the frontcourt and the deadline fumbles of expiring contracts made clear, Riley's not a good GM... he's not a details guy, and an NBA team, especially a bad one, needs a details guy. But on a broad level, Riley has done his job for this team: he's taken some of the stink off of both the books and the front office's approach to the media. He's a likeable fellow, and the rare GM who'll leave the Warriors no worse than when he found them. Good on ya, Larry.
His last few maneuvers have been especially satisfying, as the dump of Maggette and the selection of the defensive-minded Ekpe Udoh can't have been received fondly by...
Nellie hasn't been around much, which comes as no surprise -- the big fella's always been pretty good at reading the handwriting on the wall. His $6 million contract for next season is already baked into the sale price of the team, so there's no incentive to keep him around... one of the first acts of the Warriors' next owner will be to fire the winningest coach in NBA history. If it strikes you as sad that the man's going to go out like this, remember that he'll have made over $16 million for two seasons of flagrantly bad and unprofessional coaching. Most legends like to retire with dignity, but Nellie never was one to do things by the book.
Ironically, the current regime is handling its death-rattle far better than it ever handled the day-to-day running of the team. Cohan, outsized $400M dreams aside, has played things credibly so far... Riley's dumped a contract, retained all the prized young 'uns and kept on grinnin'... Nellie has finally retired his unconvincing "I'm a lovable passionate guy" routine. Everybody seems to realize that the ride is over. Cohan and Nellie are Butch and Sundance, and the Warriors fanbase is the Bolivian cavalry. Your robbin' days are over, boys. And it's gonna feel damn good to have you clowns in our rearview mirror.
Next up, we look at the jettisoning of a Worriers favorite. Don't go far.