SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) ― The hiring of Jerry West as an adviser and a member of the Golden State Warriors’ executive board has been described as adding another voice to the room for a franchise looking to reverse a run of ineptitude.
West brings much more than a voice to a downtrodden franchise. He has a pedigree that includes titles as a player and executive and a proven ability to build championship teams.
But his role with the Warriors will be different from the ones he had while running basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies. Larry Riley is already in place as general manager and the team hired agent Bob Myers in April to be the assistant general manager and GM in waiting.
“I would hope that I will have a voice, but I will not make that final decision,” West said Tuesday at his introductory news conference. “I don’t want to be the final decision-maker. I don’t think it’s fair to the people in place. That was my biggest reservation coming here. I didn’t want to come here and feel I would overshadow Larry and Bob.”
Instead West will advise owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, who bought the team last year for a record $450 million, as one of the members of the team’s executive board. West also received an ownership stake in the organization.
The Hall of Famer was a 14-time All-Star with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning the 1972 title, and the inspiration for the NBA’s logo. He also spent 18 seasons as the Lakers’ general manager and five years in Memphis’ front office. He won six titles as a Lakers executive, including two as a special consultant, helped the Grizzlies make their first three playoff appearances, and won two executive of the year awards.
“Jerry’s at the point in his career where he’s done it all,” Lacob said. “There’s nobody who has done what he’s done in his career. I couldn’t be more excited to have someone with that kind of experience and integrity to help build this thing into a great championship organization.”
West said he is not merely a “figurehead” in the organization and will spend as much time in Oakland with the team as needed while retaining his home in Los Angeles.
He will also freely voice his opinions, whether they are popular or not.
“I would tell you I’m no shrinking violet. I’m not,” he said. “If you don’t want my opinion don’t ask. I would hope our conversation would stimulate and get everybody thinking about what’s in the best interest of this team.”
Lacob said he would take any suggestion from West very seriously but hoped that ultimately there will be agreement on most major decisions.
“At the end of the day it’s not going to be one or the other because we have a lot of good, smart people in the room we’ll be able to come to a team-based consensus conclusion,” Lacob said. “If we have complete dichotomy in the room, then someone will have to make the call.”
That person ultimately will be Lacob.
West said he was attracted to the Warriors because of the risk-taking nature of Lacob and Guber. He said success in the NBA is built on successfully taking risks.
One the Warriors might need to make this offseason is trading one member of their talented, yet undersized, backcourt of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. West said he believes most of the pieces are in place to make the Warriors a playoff team, but that they likely need more size to succeed.
“I’ve seen teams trade players who score tons of points and people say, ‘How in the world can you trade that player?”’ West said. “He might score tons of points and his team won’t win. I’ve also seen teams trade players who are very good players and you substitute another player in there and the team just fits better together.”
The hiring of West is the most significant addition Lacob and Guber have made since buying the team last year from Chris Cohan. The Warriors have made the playoffs just once since 1994, going 36-46 this past season.
The next big move for the Warriors will be hiring a coach to replace Keith Smart, who was let go after helping the Warriors improve from 26 to 36 wins in his only season at the helm.
West called the decision to hire a coach the “most difficult” a franchise must make and said it’s vitally important to find a person who can do the job for years to come.
Lacob said the team is down to “short list” of candidates for the job. Among the possible contenders reportedly are Lakers assistant Brian Shaw, former Cleveland coach Mike Brown, former New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank, Dallas assistant Dwayne Casey, ESPN analyst Mark Jackson and former Minnesota coach Kevin McHale.
“We’ve interviewed a lot of people,” Lacob said. “We’re taking our time, just like we are with the rest of the organization. We’re going to bring in the very best person we think can have the greatest impact.”
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