The Warriors set off a furious round of Wikipedia-checking this week when they named hardly-known assistant Larry Riley as their new general manager, with Chris Mullin sent packing. This Larry Riley character has been an assistant in Don Nelson's front office and coaching staff here for three seasons and elsewhere for six previous seasons, but does not exactly bring the most high-powered resume to his new job.
The indispensable Tim Kawakami now informs us that Riley is not getting a high-powered salary either. Kawakami did some digging around and reports on Mercury News blog that "Larry Riley has become the lowest-paid GM in the NBA."
This provides a fair amount of fuel to the perception that Larry Riley is nothing more a yes-man, and not really a full NBA general manager. And that the Warriors' real general manager is a fellow who's sipping scotch in Maui, with little concern what happens to the franchise after he completes his current contract and gets to break Lenny Wilkens' all-time win record.
Poor Riley even had his introductory press conference kicked off with team president Robert Rowell saying, "I know a lot of you are probably sitting there going, 'Well, geez, this is just Don Nelson's buddy. This is the guy who's put in a position to be Nellie's puppet.'"
Expect the latent disrespect to continue on payday, Mr. Riley. Kawakami's snooping into Riley's deal provides us with some insight into how much, if any, organizational juice he'll wield. "I’ve checked around and the word is that Riley got a 3-year deal, worth about $700-800k annually," Kawakami writes, "Before Riley’s short-shrift deal, the lowest-paid GM was believed to be Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti, at somewhere below $900k."
Kawakami also observes that Riley will make half of what Chris Mullin was making, and that several NBA executives who aren't even general managers will earn more than Riley.
Perhaps there's no correlation between salary and organizational influence in the Warriors opaque heirarchy. And if Riley can successfully swing that pipe-dream deal for Chris Bosh, then he's worth his weight in Don Nelson-sized paychecks. But Larry Riley comes in to this general managership looking like little more than Don Nelson's rubber stamp. And he's being paid like little more than Don Nelson's rubber stamp.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who is also making a sunstantially lower salary than Don Nelson.