May 20, 2011
Huge news out of the Bay Area, where the new Golden State Warriors ownership has decided to bring the legendary Jerry West into its front office.
After years of putting up with the offense-first work of either Don Nelson or Don Nelson-styled personnel bosses (and that includes enemy combatants like Chris Mullin and Larry Riley), the Warriors are now bringing in a proper el jefe, ready to take on the Lakers, ready to bring the same sort of winner to Golden State as West did in Memphis earlier this decade.
So, look out NBA (!), correct?
West is in Golden State as an advisor, with the focus being on the team's current coaching search. I'll let Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News, the man who broke the news Thursday night, go over all the hyphens:
Jerry West, one of the most respected executives in NBA history, has agreed to join the Warriors front office in a non-decision-making, advisory role, multiple NBA sources confirmed tonight.
An announcement is expected within a few days.
West's exact title has not yet been formalized, but he is expected to be reporting to co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber and possibly act as a sounding board in many areas.
Now, this is a good thing. Any bit of expertise from West helps, as he's put together two series of champions in Los Angeles both in the 1980s, and the Shaquille O'Neal(notes) and Kobe Bryant(notes)-led outfits that did so much damage a decade ago.
But West, according to Kawakami, won't be calling the shots. And while West's hire of Hubie Brown and then Mike Fratello was one of the bigger reasons why his Grizzlies made the playoffs in 2004, 2005 and 2006, the biggest reason Memphis made the postseason bracket was because of the presence of Pau Gasol(notes), who was drafted by Billy Knight, Memphis' GM prior to West's hiring.
On top of that, this isn't the first splashy move made by Golden State's new owners. They made that move last summer, when they asked Don Nelson to take his indifferent attitude towards coaching back to Hawaii.
This was a good move. This was a great one, actually, because Nellie hamstrung that team for years. But it came after the Warriors, with Larry Riley and presumably Nellie having some influence, decided to sign offensive-minded power forward David Lee(notes) to a massive deal. Lee can score with the best of them, but considering his defensive impact the deal is a bit of a millstone, and Riley (who is a holdover from the previous, disastrous rein of owner Chris Cohan) owns a spotted at best record as an NBA personnel chief.
Obviously bringing West in would seem to serve as guidance as the team moves in a better direction, but how much impact can even a Hall of Famer in a "non-decision-making, advisory role" have? Especially when Riley seems charismatic enough to hold sway with the new ownership group despite his past work?
Fine hire, Golden State. It never hurt to have a basketball brain that big on the ready to pick. But unless West is actually pulling some strings in Golden State, I wouldn't expect much of a turnaround, Warrior fans.