Chatter is circling about the Warriors' possible interest in acquiring Utah forward Andrei Kirilenko. Speculation abounds about what the Warriors will do with their lottery pick next month — use it or trade it.
Conjecture is everywhere about what the Warriors need to acquire this summer, whether it's a point guard, veteran help off the bench or a stud low-post scorer.
It has to make you wonder who will call these shots. As it stands now, it's Larry Riley, the assistant coach turned assistant general manager.
Chris Mullin, the Warriors' executive vice president of basketball operations, still is a lame duck and expected to depart unceremoniously on or before July 1 when his contract expires, according to team insiders. And Mullin's supporting cast no longer is part of the team's inner circle.
A team official contends Warriors president Robert Rowell is not pulling strings in basketball operations, save for a few forays into that side of the business (namely, the punishing of guard Monta Ellis and the contract extensions for coach Don Nelson and swingman Stephen Jackson). And Nelson and the team contend he is just a coach — his GM-esque overtures this season notwithstanding.
That leaves Riley flying solo atop the basketball operations department.
There has been talk of Mullin landing in New York, but sources with the Warriors and Knicks said New York has not contacted the Warriors about speaking to Mullin. Doing so without permission is tampering and grounds for punishment from the league.
With Mullin lacking influence — team sources sympathetic to Mullin say he's been stripped of power, while team sources who support Rowell say Mullin has stopped doing his job — Riley is left to captain the basketball side of things.
He is expected to make the big decisions on draft day, June 25. He is expected to decide which deals to pursue this offseason and take to Rowell for financial approval.
Rowell declined to comment, and Riley could not be reached. But team sources said Riley will replace Mullin as head basketball honcho and that he has been operating as such for a while.
He's been talking with other teams. He was working the phones for trades around the deadline after having worked with Mullin on the Al Harrington for Jamal Crawford trade with New York in November. He's been the front-office rep on the road.
Having Riley as the top basketball executive has caused concern for Warriors fans. Many are skeptical about whether he is running the show or is just Nelson's puppet. Nelson and Riley have been best friends for years, and Nelson brought Riley with him from Dallas to Golden State.
But a team source said Riley's promotion to assistant general manager — to replace Pete D'Alessandro, Mullin's right-hand man who was fired in November — was Rowell's idea. For his part, Nelson constantly has denied having involvement in matters "upstairs."
Concern also exists over whether Riley has the necessary credentials. Riley has experience in the front office, working as director of player personnel for the Vancouver Grizzlies from 1994-2000 (which is more front-office experience than Mullin had when he assumed his current post in 2004). Riley also has more than a decade experience as an assistant coach and scout in the NBA.
But whether Riley has the pull and connections around the league — which was widely regarded as one of Mullin's strengths — remains to be seen. With the Warriors expected to make a push for such big names as All-Star forwards Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and Amare Stoudemire, such assets could come into play.
Riley apparently has done enough to earn the trust of Rowell. And according to one of the players, "everybody knows he's going to be the GM. ... I know everybody likes him."
Perhaps they'd better, considering Riley's running the show.
Contact Marcus Thompson II at email@example.com.