Posted Sep 1 2010 5:44PM
Larry Riley isn't interested in a conversation about his job status. Sure, Riley wants to stay on as Warriors general manager through the upcoming ownership swap, but campaigning or justifying his work isn't his style. A humble and straight shooter, Riley prefers to do his job. Not talk about it.
"I'm just going to do my job until it's over," he told NBA.com this week.
That's fine. Others are doing the talking for him.
A number of columns in the Bay Area this summer have praised the job done by Riley to reposition Golden State for this season and in those to come. The Warriors have undergone a personality shift by beefing up the roster, while adding financial flexibility.
They've done so in a climate of uncertainty, as the franchise waits for its new owners to assume control. A group led by Celtics minority owner Joe Lacob and Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber reached an agreement to buy the Warriors on July 15. League approval is expected to take 60-90 days, meaning it could be mid-October before the issue is resolved.
That's two weeks before the start of the regular season. Not exactly the optimum time to make wholesale changes like firing your GM and coach. That would appear to bode well for both Riley and coach Don Nelson.
Riley, especially. As Nellie hangs in an odd limbo as the league's all-time wins leader, Riley continues to win support. Riley freely admits all that Nellie has done for him through the years, including bringing him to Golden State as an assistant coach four years ago.
The Don hated losing Riles to the front office as assistant GM in 2008. Many close observers speculated that Nellie would lose the stomach for coaching -- again -- without his trusted confidante on the road. The Warriors were losing. Nellie's misery needs company, Bud Light and cigars. Riley shared in all three.
Riley's worth to the bench is one thing. His value since moving upstairs should mean a gig through the Warriors' next coaching change, whenever that may happen. The Warriors haven't enjoyed an offseason of Miami proportions, but it's energized the fan base and started to balance the roster.
David Lee is on board, giving the Warriors a legit power forward who averaged about 20 points and 12 rebounds last season. Lee, 27, was acquired in a sign-and-trade that cost Golden State former lottery pick Anthony Randolph.
Riley understood the risk in giving up on Randolph, a 6-foot-11 jumping jack who's only 21. He stands by the decision, which was his.
"I made the evaluation and decided that's the way I wanted to go," he said.
Riley made the deal, which included signing Lee to an $80 million contract, with the full blessing of current owner Chris Cohen. Riley hasn't been handcuffed by Cohen or hesitant to pull off a deal that the new owners might second guess.
Riley is doing his job until someone tells him not to. Until that day comes, he's looking for ways to improve. Twice this summer he sent assistant Stephen Silas to work with Monta Ellis in Jackson, Miss. Assistant Keith Smart was dispatched to Latvia to tutor Andris Biedrins.
"I don't know how far we can go, but I know we're going to be better," Riley said.
Lee's addition gives Golden State potentially three frontline players along with Stephen Curry and Ellis. The Warriors also signed Dorell Wright to shore up the small forward position and traded for guard Charlie Bell.
"I like the way our locker room looks right now," Riley said. "I feel like we've changed the team and we've added some dimensions we didn't have previously."
That chiefly being rebounding and toughness. There were losses this summer, mainly Anthony Morrow and C.J. Watson. But Riley isn't done dealing. Another veteran presence to the bench is a priority, with free agent Louis Amundson being a top target.
There's also $14 million in expiring contracts -- a sizable asset come February. And then there's Carmelo Anthony. Reports last week that listed Golden State as a possible destination Melo. If the Nuggets do decide to field offers for Anthony, expect the Warriors to be aggressive.
"We are going to look for ways to improve our team," Riley said.
As for Nellie, he wants to finish out his Golden State contract. He's got a year left and has remained engaged -- to the point Nellie remains engaged -- in the team's offseason activities. Nelson wasn't part of the Draft, by design, but did attend Summer League team in Las Vegas to evaluate the team's prospects.
Nellie repeatedly says he "knows nothing" when it comes to his future with Golden State's new owners. It's probably best to keep it that way. Riley is Nellie's best ally if a case is made for a less complicated coaching transition to take place after the season.
Riley's voice has been heard for a while now. No reason that shouldn't continue.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
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