New VP Mullin replaces Musselman

Updated: May 21, 2004, 3:57 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Golden State Warriors have nailed down the hiring of Stanford's Mike Montgomery as their new coach, an NBA source confirmed to The Associated Press Friday, and are expected to introduce him at an afternoon news conference.

The Warriors have said they will have a "major announcement."

Montgomery replaces Eric Musselman, who was fired Wednesday after two seasons. The deal is reportedly a four-year, multimillion dollar contract.

Dick Vitale's Take
Vitale
The news of Mike Montgomery's deciding to leave Stanford to coach the Golden State Warriors is shocking, shocking, shocking! I can't believe it. If there's one guy who epitomizes what college basketball is supposed to be about, it's Mike Montgomery.
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Chris Mullin, a month into his new position as executive vice president of basketball operations, was pressed to announce Montgomery's hiring during a media session Thursday but said nothing had been finalized. He also wanted to officially announce Musselman's dismissal and name Rod Higgins as general manager.

Montgomery has been one of the most successful college coaches during his 18 years at Stanford, but has no NBA experience. He led the Cardinal to their third No. 1 NCAA tournament seed in five years this season, but Stanford was upset in the second round by Alabama.

Stanford has been to the second round of the NCAA tournament for 10 straight years and made the Final Four in 1998. The Cardinal won their first 26 games this season and finished the regular season ranked No. 1 with a 29-1 mark. He has a career record of 547-244, including eight seasons at Montana.

Stanford athletic director Ted Leland has been waiting to speak about a coaching search until the Warriors officially hire Montgomery.

The 39-year-old Musselman led the Warriors to 38 victories in his first season, their best finish since 1994. Golden State won 37 games this season despite several big roster changes and significant injuries to Troy Murphy, Nick Van Exel, Speedy Claxton, Adonal Foyle and Erick Dampier. There were times the team didn't even have enough bodies to practice.

Musselman, who had one year remaining on a three-year, $4.5 million contract, was 75-89 overall.

Mullin had told ESPN.com on Thursday that an announcement about the Golden State head coaching position could come as soon as Friday.

"My decision is it's the right time to make a change. ... It's not an easy thing to do, but again that's a big part of the job -- making big decisions," Mullin said. "I will take my time and process it through. When I make a big decision, I'll stand by it."

A source close to Montgomery, 57, confirmed for ESPN.com on Thursday that he shook on a deal with Warriors owner Chris Cohan on a multimillion-dollar deal, believed to be for four years.

Mullin appointed Higgins Thursday to replace Garry St. Jean, who was stripped of his GM duties and moved into a new role with the team. Higgins, Mullin's former Warriors teammate, had been working as a scout for Golden State.

Mike Montgomery
AP PhotoMike Montgomery led Stanford to the '98 Final Four and reached the NCAA Tournament 12 times in 18 seasons.

The 44-year-old Higgins played seven seasons for the Warriors and spent three seasons as the assistant general manager of the Washington Wizards.

"We're up and running," Higgins said. "The coach is obviously the priority. ... I'm happy to be back with the organization I've spent so much time with during my career."

He has been working closely with Mullin for several weeks, preparing for the coaching search and discussing which players the team might target in the NBA draft.

The Warriors announced Musselman's dismissal Thursday after he said he was dismissed by Mullin on Wednesday. The team said it had not chosen a successor.

Stanford spokesman Gary Migdol told The Associated Press that Montgomery met with his players Wednesday to discuss the Warriors' situation.

The Warriors missed the playoffs for the 10th straight year in an injury-plagued season, finishing 37-45.

The hiring of the team's ninth coach since 1994 is the first big move made by Mullin since he took over the team last month.

Several coaches who recently made the jump straight to head coach in the NBA have struggled -- such as Lon Kruger, Tim Floyd, John Calipari and P.J. Carlesimo.

"I'm aware of that," Mullin said. "I'm also aware that our league might have been different when those coaches came in."

The Warriors were among the most improved defensive teams this season and established a team single-season attendance record, averaging 16,235 fans.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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