There’s a talented and experienced free agent on the NBA market and seemingly few people know about.
Larry Riley, who arguably had more to do with the Golden State Warriors becoming the 2015 NBA champions and the all-time single-season record-holder for victories, has become an unrestricted free agent.
Riley, who had been the Warriors’ general manager, recently saw his contract expire and is free to negotiate with any team.
Under Riley’s leadership, the Warriors made a series of remarkable moves that helped shape the franchise into a perennial threat. To wit:
- It was Riley who drafted sharp-shooting Klay Thompson, when 10 other teams passed over him. Thompson is arguably the best all-around shooting guard in the game today.
- Riley engineered the trade that brought Andrew Bogut from Milwaukee to Golden State and provided the Warriors with one of the best rim-protectors and passers in the game
- It was Riley and his underlings who set the draft table for selections of Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green before then new Warriors owner Joe Jacob decided in 2012 to promote Bob Myers to GM and demote Riley to director of scouting.
- And, last but certainly not least, it was Riley who may have made one of the greatest selections in draft history when, with the seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft, he chose Stephen Curry, the NBA’s reigning two-time Most Valuable Player.
When Curry won his first MVP, he rightfully lauded Riley.
“He’s the reason I’m here,’’ Curry said of Riley. “He drafted me. He saw potential in me coming out of college, along with [former Warriors coach] Don Nelson, making those decisions.
“You’re a big reason why I’m here, taking a chance on a little scrawny kid from a mid-major school (Davidson). So just wanted to say thank you for believing in me. Crazy how far we’ve come in six years. But thank you, man. I can’t thank you enough for that decision.”
In informal interviews with several NBA personnel at the Vegas Summer League, three players consistently popped up when asked whom the best players in the event: Suns guard Devin Booker (29 points per game), Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell (21.8 ppg) and Jazz forward Trey Lyles (29 ppg). … Nuggets coach Mike Malone told me a decision on whether Juancho Hernangomez will remain with the team or return to Europe next season hasn’t been made. Hernangomez, a 6-9 forward from Spain, was the 15th overall selection in the June draft. … Bulls star swingman Jimmy Butler was pumped up during Wednesday’s Summer League, constantly offering up encouragement while sitting by the Bulls bench during their 86-73 win over Dallas Thursday and then spending a considerable time after the game chatting with Bulls officials. … George Karl was in Las Vegas this week but didn’t attend the Summer League. The scuttlebutt is Karl will sit out this season and return to the bench the following season as either a head coach or associate head coach. The 65-year-old Karl is just one of seven coaches with more than 1,000 wins and is just one game shy of coaching his 2,000th NBA game.