Warriors owner has plan for next GM, coach awaits
New Golden State Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob knows how he wants his management and basketball operations staff structured for the future, and he has moved swiftly this offseason to put them in place.
His coach is another matter.
Lacob said Friday that his plan is to have new assistant general manager Bob Myers succeed GM Larry Riley in the next few seasons. Myers, a longtime NBA agent, was hired a day earlier.
All three will meet with coach Keith Smart in the next ''eight or nine days.'' A final decision on his future is still likely a few weeks away, and none of them have given Smart a vote of confidence yet.
''We're going to sit down together, all of us in basketball operations and myself, and we're going to analytically evaluate the season along multiple dimensions,'' Lacob said in a phone call with beat reporters from New York, where he was attending the NBA's Board of Governors meeting. ''We're going to talk with Keith, and we're going to figure out whether he's the right guy going forward.
''Certainly, he's done a good job in many respects, and I think it's really a question of whether what we see is the vision going forward, if he's the right guy. And, frankly, right now, we don't have an answer for that.''
Lacob and fellow owner Peter Guber have vowed to restore the franchise to past glory with bold moves.
They already have shown they aren't afraid to make big changes, beginning when they ousted coach Don Nelson - and his NBA-best 1,335 victories in 31 seasons - just before the start of training camp, hastily replacing him with Smart even before they officially bought the team for a record $450 million from longtime owner Chris Cohan.
Lacob has wanted to put his own stamp on the basketball operations staff, and adding Myers - and quickly pronouncing him Riley's eventual successor - is the biggest and perhaps final step yet in that process. Lacob said he expects Riley, 66, to retire in a few years. Riley confirmed those plans.
Warriors director of player personnel Travis Schlenk and director of basketball operations Kirk Lacob, the owner's son, also have been retained. Those four, along with the owners, will be involved in all basketball decisions.
''It is definitely intended that these four guys will be with us for the foreseeable future,'' Lacob said. ''They all bring something very special, I believe, to the table. They're going to work very well together, and it's a team approach. I think we cover all the bases with them.
''Bob would be expected to ascend to the general manager role,'' he added. ''There are no guarantees. He and I have had very frank discussions. He's going to see how he likes it, we're going to see how we like him and we'll take it from there.''
The Warriors still have a long way to go to become winners.
They have made the postseason just once since 1994, and yet fans in the basketball-crazy Bay Area still pack Oracle Arena, remaining some of the most loyal and vocal in a market saturated with sports teams. The Warriors finished 36-46 this season, a 10-game improvement from a year ago but still missing Lacob's goal of making the playoffs.
Smart only received a one-year deal, with an option for next season, and the longtime assistant has been perceived as a fill-in candidate since he was hired. With no decision coming anytime soon on the coach's future, Riley told Smart to feel free to travel with family for a week or more if he wanted. Riley even said he was planning to play golf this weekend.
''I'm going to decompress myself,'' he said.
Riley and Myers spoke with writers for more than an hour inside the players' lounge at the team's headquarters Friday about what needs to be done to improve the roster. Among the other notable items:
- Both expressed confidence in the Monta Ellis-Stephen Curry starting guard combo. One of the best scoring backcourts in the league, the undersized point guards were also a big reason the Warriors were the fourth-worst team in points allowed this season. Riley added it would take a ''spectacular'' deal for one of them to be traded.
- Riley said often-lamented starting center Andris Biedrins will need to improve or lose his spot next season. ''It's one of those things where he came in and had to prove himself. He's back to having to prove himself,'' Riley said.
- Both Riley and Myers would prefer to keep David Lee at power forward but wouldn't rule out a return to center, where he played for the New York Knicks.
- The plan is to play promising young big man Ekpe Udoh at power forward long-term, although if the team can't land a marquee center this summer, both said he could start at center in place of Biedrins.