Posts Tagged ‘Larry Riley’

Kerr finally gets his chance with Curry

VIDEO: The NBA TV crew analyzes the transition of Steve Kerr

OAKLAND — They have joked about it for months now, Steve Kerr and Bob Myers, Kerr and Larry Riley, and Kerr and Stephen Curry, over the phone and in person, through the years and over international borders in an outcome so strange it comes with a laugh track.

A little more than five years later, everyone has unexpectedly met here, Kerr as the new Warriors coach, Myers as the general manager and primary recipient of what didn’t happen, Curry as the All-Star point guard, and with Riley still part of the organization as director of scouting. Roles have changed. Lives have changed.

One thing has remained true, though: Kerr has never been so happy to lose.

He was the Suns general manager in June 2009 and wanted Curry in the draft. Badly. There was phone call after phone call between Kerr and Riley, his Warriors counterpart. There were internal conversations among Phoenix management about the risk of trading 26-year-old Amar’e Stoudemire coming off three consecutive seasons of at least 20 points and eight rebounds — and the risk of keeping Stoudemire with free agency a year away and growing health concerns.

The Warriors were very interested, intrigued by the chance to get the known of a proven power forward over the uncertainty of a scoring point guard from mid-major Davidson. They also really liked Curry and, in fact, doubted he would be on the board when Riley picked seventh. Arizona’s Jordan Hill was the fallback, probably for both sides, for the Suns if a deal had been arranged and for Golden State to keep if no deal was in place.

It got close, but never imminent. The Warriors were not going to trade for Stoudemire unless he at least showed strong likelihood of re-signing as a free agent the next summer, and Riley had yet to so much as ask the Suns for permission to have the conversation. And if Golden State and Stoudemire did talk, the result would have been the same. He was not going to commit to anything at that point other than showing up, playing hard and keeping an open mind about the future, an understandable stance that almost certainly would have ended the talks bouncing between Phoenix and Oakland.

Plus, once Blake Griffin (Clippers), Hasheem Thabeet (Grizzlies), James Harden (Thunder) and Tyreke Evans (Kings) were picked and the Timberwolves followed with the infamous Ricky RubioJonny Flynn double dip of points guards at five and six, Curry was still available at seven. Riley’s stance hardened. No longer was it just weighing acquiring Stoudemire as a possible one-season rental while also sending out Andris Biedrins and big salaries as cap balast, it was believing Curry would be special. Riley would be demoted to director of scouting and replaced by Myers in 2012, but also secure a positive place in Golden State history by not biting on the tantalizing lure of an athletic power forward that put up numbers.

The Warriors took Curry seventh and he turned into a star. The Suns kept Stoudemire one more season and 23.1 points and 8.9 rebounds and played it right to not get into a bidding war with the Knicks in 2010 free agency.


The Warriors ended up hiring Kerr to coach. To coach the entire roster, obviously, but with Curry as the best player and one of the main attractions of choosing Golden State over the option of working for long-time friend and coaching mentor Phil Jackson with the Knicks.

How life could be different if Kerr got his wish in 2009.

“I may not be here,” he said.

It was one of the first things they talked about after Kerr was hired in May, when he was home near San Diego and called Curry on a postseason golf outing in Mexico. Kerr couldn’t bring him to Phoenix, the new coach told his point guard, so Kerr would come to Curry.

“He’s said a couple times, ‘You know, I really wanted him,’ ” said Myers, an agent in 2009. “Obviously any coach that has the opportunity to coach this team, that’s one of the first things mentioned, if not the first, which is, ‘I get an opportunity to coach that guy.’ And not just his talent on the floor, but who he is as a person. It makes perfect sense to me. I’d want to coach him too if I was a coach. We’ve joked around about that.”

Because they can now. Now that Kerr finally has Curry on his side.

Let The Trade Deadline Madness Begin

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks kicked off this trade deadline season with a bang, agreeing tonight on a five-player deal that will send guard Monta Ellis, forward Ekpe Udoh and center Kwame Brown to Milwaukee for center Andrew Bogut and guard Stephen Jackson. The deal, first reported by Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, was also confirmed by TNT’s David Aldridge

If the magnitude of this first move is any indication — Bogut was the No. 1 pick in the 2005 Draft, Ellis is one of the league’s top scorers and Jackson, despite his issues with Bucks coach Scott Skiles, remains one of the league’s most dynamic backcourt performers when he’s playing in an environment he likes — we could be in for a wild ride the next 24 hours.

Ellis has been the subject of trade rumors in Golden State for the past three seasons, with the reasoning being as nuanced as his game. Bottom line, just like Bogut and Jackson (who had expressed their own desires to be shipped out of Milwaukee from whatever restrictions they felt Skiles’ system placed upon their respective games), Ellis is being moved at his own behest.

The only problem? You can bet Ellis didn’t have the Bucks at the top of his list, not with the chatter about him joining Dwight Howard in Orlando heating up in recent days. The addition of Ellis also raises questions about Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, whose name has also surfaced in trade rumors in the past few weeks. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported yesterday that the Bucks don’t have any plans on moving Jennings, which should make some chemistry issues down the stretch this season for Skiles with an Ellis-Jennings backcourt.

Jackson presented a unique set of challenges, same as he always has for whoever is coaching him. A backcourt with two offensive-minded guys like Ellis and Jennings should be as exciting as any combo in the league, but will they defend the way Skiles demands?

We’ve got it covered for you from every angle …


Tyson Chandler Tops Warriors’ List

– For the latest updates check out:’s Free Agent Tracker

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Tyson Chandler has been in high demand before.

It’s been a while, probably all the way back to when he was a high school star, that he’s experienced at its current levels. But he’s familiar with the recruiting game. And in a free agent season where the true, franchise-changing players are rare, Chandler stands out.

That’s probably why you’ve seen his name associated with so many different teams as Friday, the first day players can sign contracts and offer sheets with teams, approaches.

Having already made clear that his chances of returning to Dallas for an encore title chase are slim, acquiring Chandler has become the primary focus for the Golden State Warriors, (who are busy trying to figure out a way to land his old New Orleans Hornets teammate, Chris Paul, as well).

New Warriors coach Mark Jackson had a front row seat for the defensive showcase Chandler put on during The Finals and knows what a difference a defensive stalwart can make for an offensive-minded bunch set on transforming itself into a playoff outfit. There’s also the matter of having an elder statesmen, of sorts, to help guide his young crew.

The entire organization, from the front office to young stars, seem to agree that Chandler would be the perfect fit in Oakland. Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle provides some details:

It would take some major roster finagling, but the Warriors’ front office is aggressively studying all of the requisite moves to make the signing a possibility. Also, the team’s best players seem to be in support of the bold changes that could open salary space for Chandler.

“It’d be huge,” said point guard Stephen Curry, who spent six weeks with Chandler on the USA Basketball team last summer. “He’s a game-changer down low. That’s a coveted role that a lot of teams want to add to their roster.

“If he’s a guy who puts a Warriors’ jersey on, it’d be a huge addition.” …

The bidding among a weak free-agent class is going to be especially high for Chandler, who is widely credited with changing the defensive culture of the Dallas Mavericks, helping to turn them into NBA champions last season. Chandler is expected to get $12 million to $15 million a season over a four-year deal.

That in itself would be way outside the Warriors’ price range, but general manager Larry Riley said there are ways to free up that much cap space. After they sign their three rookies (Klay Thompson, Jeremy Tyler and Charles Jenkins), the Warriors will have about $6 million in cap space. They then would have to use the amnesty clause on Charlie Bell, paying the waived guard $4 million but not counting his salary against the cap, and trade center Andris Biedrins‘ three-year, $27 million contract without taking much salary in return.

It’ll take some salary-cap creativity and some serious behind-the-scenes work to get it done, obviously. But the Warriors, with their new front office structure and the addition of Jerry West, should have all the tools needed to make something happen.

If Chandler and Paul both find their way to Oakland, the best fans in the league will once again have (the makings of) a team worthy of their devotion.


Nellie’s long walk on thin ice

OAKLAND — There is a good chance Don Nelson would have been fired as coach of the Warriors even without the natural opening of an ownership change, general manager Larry Riley said Monday in officially announcing the move from Nelson to Keith Smart as the team reconvened for the start of the season.

“Possibly so,” Riley said when asked if the same move would have been made if Chris Cohan would have still been the owner. “Quite likely.”

The difference, Riley said, is that any change would have been made earlier in the offseason instead of at the start of camp, an awkward timetable because the sale of the Warriors from Cohan to a group headed by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber is not expected to become official until next month. The comments by Riley, though, strongly indicate Cohan was ready to break ties with Nelson as well, even while eating the $6 million due for 2010-11.

Then there’s the other question: Did Nelson want to come back?

He clearly would have when the option was walking away from the money. But Riley, a longtime close friend and former Nellie assistant before moving to the Warriors’ front office, conceded Nelson’s heart may not have been into the job.

“I think part of him maybe did [want to come back] and I also think part of him did not,” Riley said. “I think he felt that with all the things that were happening, it was just the opportune time.”

Nellie out in Golden State


Don Nelson entered the NBA in the 1962 as a rookie with the Chicago Zephyrs. Nearly five decades later he departs, according to a flood of stories hitting cyberspace tonight led off by Marc Stein’s report at Nellie is out as Golden State’s coach on the eve of training camp next week.

Trusted assistant Keith Smart is taking over as coach and receiving a multi-year contract, new owner Joe Lacob told Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Warriors in July, with their ownership expected to be formerly approved sometime in October.

Obviously, they’re already acting as owners and putting their stamp on the franchise. The Warriors have been busy this offseason, with general manager and close Nellie friend Larry Riley rebuilding the roster around Rookie of the Year runner-up Stephen Curry and new power forward David Lee.

Nellie, 70, appeared genuinely excited about the prospects of coaching one last season and finishing out his contract in conversations with this summer. But he was also rational, openly discussing the real possibility of not coming back this season with Riley on several occasions. So, Nellie exits as the league’s all-time leader in wins (1,335-1,063) in 31 memorable years on the job.

And perhaps just as important, at least to Nellie, he’ll collect every penny of the $6 million he’s owed for this season. Never mind the semantics — whether Nellie resigned or was fired or agreed to a buyout — the way this changing of the guard was handled appears to take into account Nellie’s many contributions to the game and Golden State.

He led two resurrections with the Warriors, the first in the 1990s at the height of Run-TMC. The second may been more impressive, as Nellie surfaced again in the Bay Area four years ago after falling out of favor in Dallas. The Warriors made history in 2007 becoming the first eighth seed to beat a top seed in a best-of-7 playoff series. That top seed happened to be the 67-win Mavericks, making the upset that much sweeter for Nellie.

Nellie never won a title as a coach or even reached The Finals, a fact that critics routinely point to when downplaying his contributions to the sport. (He did win five rings as a player with Boston and has his number retired by the Celtics.) Nellie’s departures from previous coaching stops — Milwaukee, Golden State the first time, New York and Dallas — have usually been less-than-ideal and often included litigation. He’s also not in the Hall of Fame.

There’s also a sense he went through the motions at times, focusing more on the next contract than the job at hand. Nellie once told me he didn’t start to make “real money” in this league until the last 10 years of his career and that meant something to a son of an Illinois farmer.

I covered Nellie’s run in Dallas and have followed his escapades since, profiling the three-time Coach of the Year back in April as he stood on the verge of breaking Lenny Wilkins’ record. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, one of Nellie’s many former assistants and still a close friend, once roasted Nellie at a “retirement” party in Dallas in 2005.

Pop wasn’t sure what Nellie would do without the game.

“We all think of him as a lifer. He’s been doing it for so many years. You just wonder what he’s going to do when he’s not doing basketball.”

Nellie has long made his offseason home in Maui, returning each fall for the start of training camp. He liked to joke about leaving paradise to coach. He doesn’t have to leave anymore.


Amundson signing with Warriors

The Warriors beefed up their frontcourt by coming to terms with free agent Louis Amundson, his agent told on Monday. Amundson, 27, was one of the last quality big men on the market. He joins Golden State to provide depth behind David Lee and Andris Biedrins.

The deal is for two years at slightly less than $5 million. The second year is a player option.

“It was obviously a long process and he had a number of teams pursuing him,” agent Mark Bartelstein said. “We ultimately felt this was a huge decision in his career. He’s made great strides the last few years and to get to where he wants to go, and he needed to pick the right place. Golden State was that place.”

Amundson spent the last two seasons with Phoenix, becoming a valuable cog on one of the deepest benches around. He averaged career highs in points (4.7) points, rebounds (4.4) and minutes (14.8), while shooting 55.1 percent from the floor.

Amundson was also known for his dogged defense and hustle, becoming a favorite with fans and inside the Suns locker room. The undrafted four-year veteran out of UNLV spent the first two years of his career with Utah and Philadelphia.

Warriors general manager Larry Riley targeted signing Amundson as a top priority to round out the team’s frontcourt. New Orleans, Indiana, Toronto and Charlotte also reportedly had interest in Amundson.

“He brings energy and a physical presence that we needed, plus he is an experienced player who has played in a system similar to the Warriors,” Riley said. “He is a tireless worker on both ends of the floor.” recently profiled Amundson’s difficulty landing a gig this offseason.

Changes possible in G-State

Posted by Art Garcia

LAS VEGAS — Golden State general manager Larry Riley isn’t worried about his job status or that of coach Don Nelson after Thursday’s announcement of the franchise’s sale. A group led by Joe Lacob and Peter Guber bought the Warriors for a record $450 million from Christopher Cohan.
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Riley expects the evaluation process of the front office to take place soon. Nelson is entering the last year of his contract and the league’s all-time winningest coach has talked about finally retiring after this season.

Nelson could also step aside this summer, but that’s highly unlikely with $6 million left on his contract. He said earlier this week he’s excited about the upcoming season.

“He will now have some decisions to make himself,” Riley said of Nelson. “I had some consultations with him. I don’t know where all that will go, but I think he has energy where he can coach the team.”

It’s a very real possibility Riley and Nelson aren’t retained by the new ownership group. Riley had spent more than 20 years in the NBA and understands the nature of the business.

“Twenty years ago it would have kept me up at night and it would have been on my mind all the time,” he said. “Fortunately for me I’ve been so busy, even since this whole [ownership change] began that I haven’t had time to really deal with it much, so that’s a good thing.

“I think I have enough maturity to understand what you can control and what you can’t, and you better work on the things that you can do something about. And that’s the way I approach it. it really hasn’t kept me up at night. It’s something that the decision will be made one way or the other on a lot of things in the franchise. There won’t be much I can do about it. I will continue to do my job until I’m told otherwise.”

Riley feels good about the direction of the team, adding the moves made this summer leave the Warriors deeper and more experience without getting older. The Warriors completed a sign-and-trade for David Lee, moving the disappointing Anthony Randolph in the deal. The Warriors expect the former New York power forward to anchor the frontline for years to come.

“I don’t know where Anthony Randolph’s career is going, but I know where David Lee is,” Riley said. “That was a bigger basis for making the deal than anything else.”

Golden State also signed Dorell Wright, is high on rookie lottery pick Ekpe Udoh, even though the power forward is out for at least six months. Hard-working gunner Anthony Morrow was lost to New Jersey and Corey Maggette was traded to Milwaukee.

Cohan approved all the moves up to this point, Riley said, with the new ownership group not having input on any of the transactions. The sale is pending league approval.