New Owners Could Mean New GM, Head Coach for Warriors
"There's a lot of excitement in the Bay Area, and for good reason," he opined from UNLV's Cox Pavilion at the Las Vegas Summer League. "There's more reason for hope and more optimism."
Unless you're Riley and coach Don Nelson, of course.
With the long-struggling franchise changing hands from Chris Cohan to Mandalay Entertainment Group, CEO Peter Guber and Bay Area businessman Joe Lacob, there is no verdict yet on what comes next. But new owners typically mean a new start, meaning changes could be on the way.
Riley, who took over for Chris Mullin in 2009, is hopeful that his recent work was enough to impress the new bosses. The Warriors have been active of late, most recently dealing Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike to New York in a sign-and-trade for forward David Lee. Nelson, who is the league's all-time wins leader, could be on his way out as well.
"We had a plan in place and we were able to put that plan into effect, and I think that's probably going to be something that speaks for itself," Riley said. "We'll just wait and see what the new ownership group would like to do. ... It's something where the decision will be made one way or the other (based) on a lot of things in the franchise. I'm going to do my job until I'm told otherwise."
Riley said he's unsure whether Nelson - who has one year and $6 million left on his deal - even wants to return, although Nelson told ESPN.com that he does want to return. Riley noted that the 70-year-old "perked up" after the recent roster tweaks. The Warriors drafted forward Ekpe Udoh out of Baylor with the No. 6 pick, although he will miss six months with a wrist injury. They signed seventh-year small forward Dorell Wright to a three-year, $12-million deal, and lost the services of third-year small forward Anthony Morrow to New Jersey in a sign-and-trade while also trading Corey Maggette and his bloated contract (three years, $31 million remaining) and their second-round draft pick (No. 44) to Milwaukee in exchange for center Dan Gadzuric and guard Charlie Bell.
The record may speak louder than the roster, though, as the Warriors were 26-56 last season and 29-53 the season prior after he led Golden State to the second round of the playoffs in 2007. Cohan presided over the team for much of that time, taking over in 1995 when he bought the team for $119 million and seeing the Warriors reach the postseason just once in 16 seasons.
Lacob -- who owns a small portion of the Boston Celtics as well -- has seen much of the Warriors struggles firsthand. He is a former Golden State season-ticket holder, suffering through some of the subpar campaigns up close before paying a league-record $450 million for the right to call the shots.
While the new ownership group won't be official until the purchase is approved by the NBA's Board of Governor's in the next 60 to 90 days, the sticker price had a more immediate ripple effect on the league at large. With the ongoing labor negotiations going nowhere in relation to the collective bargaining agreement that expires after next season, this is yet another reason for the player's association to question the claims of the league's owners who paint such a bleak financial picture.
The uniqueness and viability of the Bay Area market has everything to do with the price tag, though. The Warriors had remained among the league leaders in attendance even through the lean years, and the per capita presence of deep-pocketed corporations is among the highest of the league's markets, as well.
As for whether Riley, Nelson and their staff will be part of the new future, the new owners will have to sleep on it if they haven't decided already. One possible scenario is the hiring of Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, who many expect to be eventually supplanted by Pat Riley with the revamped Heat team and whose father, Jon Spoelstra, is the vice chairman of marketing for baseball properties in Gruber's Mandalay group.
And as for Riley, he insists he'll rest easy while he waits.
"Twenty years ago, it would've kept me up at night and would've been on my mind all the time," he said. "But fortunately for me, I've been so busy, even since this whole thing began, that I haven't really had time to deal with it much. And I think I have enough maturity to understand what you can control and what you can't, and you'd better work on the things that you can do something about."
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