OAKLAND (CBS/AP) – New Golden State Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber gave general manager Larry Riley a vote of confidence Thursday.
Riley received a new multiyear contract to stay put in his current position as GM and executive vice president of basketball operations, while the club said former sports agent Bob Myers was hired as the team’s new assistant GM and vice president of basketball operations to serve as Riley’s right-hand man and contract expert.
Golden State finished the season with a 110-86 home win Wednesday night against the playoff-bound Portland Trail Blazers— and did so without leading scorer Monta Ellis, who sat out his second straight game with a concussion. Riley is scheduled to discuss the season and future in a media availability Friday.
The future of coach Keith Smart isn’t so clear, though there’s no reason the Warriors must act right away in deciding whether to keep the coach beyond his first year with a potential lockout looming. Smart led Golden State (36-46) to 10 more victories than a year ago after taking over last minute in September for the NBA’s career wins leader, Don Nelson.
“This is my home, so I’m here no matter what,” Smart said Wednesday. “My family already told me I can go anywhere I want but they’re staying. My focus is on the team, moving forward with the idea that I’m directing this team. That’s how I’m going to play it out.”
Smart never promised an immediate turnaround or quick fix for a franchise that has made the playoffs only once since 1994, with a surprising run to the second round in 2007.
The 46-year-old Smart—famous for hitting the game-winning shot for Indiana that won the Hoosiers the 1987 NCAA title—spent seven years as an assistant with Golden State, passing up opportunities to go elsewhere to remain with the team that drafted him 41st overall in the second round in 1988.
After being groomed under Nelson, he got his first shot as a head coach, aside from a stint as the Cleveland Cavaliers’ interim head coach for the final 40 games in 2003 after taking over for John Lucas. Smart spent 10 years in all as an NBA assistant.
Point guard Stephen Curry, for one, is all for Smart staying put and keeping some continuity for this young roster.
“I’ll just keep it simple: I want him as a coach. He works hard for me, I’ll work hard for him,” Curry said. “He knows everyone on this team and what we’re capable of and the system that we put in this whole year to try to get better, so I’ll leave it at that.”
Lacob and Guber, who bought the Warriors for a record $450 million last July from longtime owner Chris Cohan, have shown they aren’t afraid to make big changes. They let the 70-year-old Nelson—with his NBA-best 1,335 victories in 31 seasons—go just before the start of training camp last year, which meant paying his $6 million salary for this past season.
The 66-year-old Riley came to the Warriors as an assistant under Nelson, serving in that job for more than two seasons before being promoted to assistant GM in November 2008. He just completed his second season as general manager.
“I think Larry has done a great job and I’ve been very pleased with his performance,” Lacob said. “He’s had a vision since he took the job less than two years ago and he has certainly helped move this team in an extremely positive direction in terms of our culture, cap management and roster additions. With that said, he also understands that we still have plenty of work to do and that expectations for this team have increased.”
Myers, 36 and a Bay Area native who played basketball at UCLA, spent the past five years at Wasserman Media Group (WMG) in Los Angeles, where he represented NBA players for more than a decade. He worked under renowned agent Arn Tellem.
“He was an important cog in the overall scheme of things at Wasserman Media Group and his expertise—from legal issues and contract negotiations to his wide-ranging relationships in the business—will pay huge dividends for the Warriors as we continue to build a basketball team that our fans can be proud of every season,” Riley said.
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