Larry Riley Explains/Defends His Decision

Sat down with Warriors GM Larry Riley before the game.

Say what you want about the man, he is present and accountable. He didn’t dodge the media, didn’t skirt any questions, nor did he complain about the negative reaction he’s gotten for his decision. And he clearly explained why he made the decision he made.

The gist: he didn’t do anything to hurt the Warriors plans by waiving Speedy Claxton and his $5.2 million contract. Here are his answers in full (The first two questions were from a season-ticket holder who bogarded our interview. They were good questions):

 You’re getting blasted on the internet 

Would you expect that? All that was anticipated before we did it. 

We went through all the trade scenarious, the things that we’ve talked abnout, and the potential trades, and we’re in a situation where we have enough money in the contracts that we have along with some our existing players to be able to make a deal that get you in the range of nine, 10, 11, 12 million dollars. 13. That’s the range where can go to get a player who is a good player. 

Now, if you want to get up top $20 million and get into that range of those players – and I’m not supposed to mention their names, but you know who they are – then you would have to have Speedy’s money. You would have to be in position to where then you would take on that money and you would hope to go attract one of those three or four guys – and you know who we’re talking about – in free agency. We cannot get those guys to come here. We’re not a winning tradition team right now and we’re not a major media market, although we’re a good media market. We’re in a situation where we’re just not going to get those guys. So our range is in that range that’s below that and we have enough players where if we find a guy that is making $12 million, for example, who is a good player that we want to acquire, we can still make a trade for that guy. If this money had taken us out of that, we would have never gone in that direction. Plus, you’re also looking down the road at managing your cap. 

We don’t want to give anybody away. What we’re looking at is being able to have some money this year to re-sign some of our existing players, which Morrow fits in that category, with the possibility of Raja Bell and maybe another free agent. So that’s the direction that we’re taking on that. 

Will you have to trade one of your four highest-paid players?

We’re not trading Monta Ellis, and we’re not trading Stephen Curry. And if we have to trade some of the other players, we’re going to look at it. It’s very difficult to take what we have and trade for a star. So we have to trade for a good player and get some help for our team. There will be somebody who will probably trade that the fan base won’t necessarily like. … We do have to move a guy. We do have to move a guy to get where we want to go.

Why not cut Hunter and stay alive for the unforeseen or unexpected that happens around the deadline? 

We have to consider all those options. With the advent of Randolph’s injury becoming long term and the fact that Radmanovic cannot play until well after the All-Star break, we’re sitting here without a (power forward) unless you play Maggette at (power forward) all the time. And he plays there some, we all know that. But if you play him there all the time, he probably gets beat up. We were looking at healthy bodies as far as keeping the team together. I know we’re not making the playoffs, but I owe it to our team and our coaches to put as much on the floor as we can so we can have a chance to compete. Now, that probably doesn’t override the question you’re asking. The fact is, after evaluating all of the trade scenarios that we’ve already been through, and looking at the salaries of the people who would be desirable for us to acquire, we can still acquire those people if in fact the people on the other side are willing to trade them. So it didn’t tie us down to let Speedy go.

 If you have enough to get one of the guys you want, that means you gave away the excess. Could the excess have benefited you at the trade deadline?

 The excess, talking about roughly that salary range, has gotten me no offers that I want to take right now. And I’ve been down that road in that salary range that we’re talking about, and been down it with several teams and have targeted the guys who are in that range. You’re going to say to me, ‘Then did you target this guy plus another guy plus another guy, which takes you to maybe $8 million, or something like that?’ We did all of the research we needed to do. We had to research all that. We had to go through it and weigh the whole thing out, and so we made the decision to go this direction. I told you today I wore a bright jacket. I expected to get shot. I didn’t expect to get machine gunned. I knew that if I made that decision, it was going to be a problem. And I did it because I believe in the things that we’re working on. It’ll all turn out. We’ll be able to look at the trades that are made and see if it would’ve happened to where maybe we screwed up. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Are you worried about the fact that even though you exhausted everything, somebody might have panicked at the deadline and given you something?

I hope I know who those teams might be that would’ve panicked and I’ve had a lot of discussions with them and I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t think you’ll see a panick move in this year’s trade dealine because of the economy, the salary cap itself and the up and coming collective bargaining agreement.

Are you totally behind this decision?

Yes. It’s a decision I was presented with, needed to make. And it’s on me. And I understand that, and I understood when I made it that it would be criticized. It’s my day to take one bullet. I hope not 50.

Do you think about the judgment? A lot of the moves you made so far are all kind of waiting on what you do at the trade deadline or in the offseason, and this is one of the moves.

This is one that everybody will have some judgement on and some will lineup on the opposite side of it. Those who are cautious about will be saying, ‘Ok, let’s see what the next move is because this guy may not know what he’s doing.’ I’m well aware of that. I’m Ok with that.

Do you feel like the injuries hurt your ability to make moves?

The thing that squeezed us was we’re on a 17-man roster. If we hadn’t had these injuries, we might be sitting here with a 14-man roster and then you would be able to acquire this next guy no problem at all and you don’t have to cut somebody. So the injuries have caused the entire situation. Is that an excuse for the decision? No. But it put us in position to have to make the decision. You would hope that we won’t be into that kind of stuff in future seasons and we won’t have this kind of dilemma.

You traded Crawford and now with Speedy being waived, it looks like you got nothing for him. Is that an OK thing for you?

We looked at the overall picture in the Crawford trade and in that particular scenario, we felt it was important to try to create some playing time for Anthony Morrow. We did that before the draft. We weren’t 100 percent certain that we were going to draft a point guard, but frankly it looked like that it was going to be somebody else other than Stephen Curry for a while, but there was another point guard that could’ve been taken there. We felt if you’re going to end up in a istuation like that, and you need Morrow to play, and you’ve got Monta, then we need to move Crawford. Nellie was vocal last year about how he didn’t fit the system and stuff. But this was a move that we made to free up some playing time at that spot where Morrow could get a little bit more time. It also shortened the contract so to speak and, in that regard, it gave us some freedom that we wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.

What do you say to fans that don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. All they see is players going out and nothing coming in yet?

We have to draft well. There’s no question about that. We can’t just build the team around the next draft, but we have to draft well. And then what we have to do is sign a free agent this summer that’s going to be helpful to our team. And there’s going to probably have to be a trade in there that involves some player that is popular enough with our fans that it may not be a popular trade. But we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to use all three of those areas to do that. It hasn’t been done yet, so therefore people are going to have to say ‘All right I’m skeptical.’ So we’re going to have to show that we can accomplish those things and put a better team on the floor.

Still considering trading this year’s draft pick?

It’ll be hard to say whether or not we would move that pick. I like having the pick itself. If that pick got us a veteran player that would fit with our team, I would certainly consider it. There is no doubt that I would take a look at it. What I didn’t want to do is get encumbered where we had to give up a draft pick down the road or something like that. I like having this year’s pick available to do something with it if I need to or having next year’s pick available to do something with it if I need to.

Do you see somebody at three to five, where you guys could end up. that you think could help this team right away?

I do. The question is would we stay in that range of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. It’s like all drafts – the farther back you go, the harder it is to find a guy. But I’m confident we can get some kind of help out of this draft should we choose to keep the pick.

So you believe it was not possible to get a player in the range of $9-$12 million by using just the expiring contracts you had?

It was not. In all of our discussions with the other teams, I didn’t find anyone who was willing to have a serious conversations about taking those expiring contracts and giving up a player of significance. Now there would be no point in giving up three expiring contracts, or two, for a player who is overvalued or who doesn’t add anything for our team.

You talked about signing Morrow and Raja Bell? Would you have enough to sign a free agent?

There wouldn’t be a lot, but it depends on the economy and what the number is that you have to use to sign Anthony Morrow, what the number might be to sign one of your own guys like a Raja Bell. If the economy takes over and those numbers go down, you probably can go get one more free agent.

Marcus Thompson

  • deano

    The negotiating season still has another ten days to go. Riley would be stupid to say thet he would trade Ellis or Curry, even if it were true. He can credibly state that those players are untouchable. He could not maintain his credibility with other NBA GMs if he were to say that he is unwilling to trade Maggette.

    In this regard, Riley shows more brains Nellie. Nellie is famous for bad-mouthing his own players and thereby diminishing their trade value (see Harrington, Al; and Crawford, Jamal). Until February 18, our hope is still treading water. Starting that evening, it can sink to the bottom.

  • Usually Lurking

    There will be no trade. You don’t throw away a useful bargaining chip if you’re in the trade market.

    Getting a good player means paying a good player and Cohan won’t do that. So don’t be surprised if there’s no significant free agent signing in the offseason either.

    I guess you can’t say the front office doesn’t have a Plan though… this move actually makes it even clearer. The Plan is to minimize cost as much as possible.

    Success on the court is not a priority for the Golden State Warriors.

  • Doh-Fiend

    I agree we couldve used speedy’s contract as good trade bait.

    However if there isn’t any interest there is nothing u can do with it.
    I’d rather we not cut speedy. Let toliver walk. Sign kurz or whoever.

    Keep that contract until AFTER the deadline.

    GSW have made BAD decisions recently.
    We got nothing for J-Rich
    nothing for harrington cuz Crawford was traded for nothing.
    Got nothing for Capt Jack even tho his additude had to go.

    For how many years have we heard “this moves gives us more FLEXIBILITY”.
    It’s getting old because we are not seeing positive results

  • Foxman

    Riley is a fraud. That is the most incredible doubletalk I’ve ever heard. He hasn’t done anything of value at all except help Nellie assemble a d-leauge team that will listen to him because no NBA player worth anything will listen to Nellie anyomore. My only hope is ellison buys the team sand hires someone like Jerry West to get us out of this morass.

  • marko

    Riley sounds plausible until you evaluate the organization’s activity the past 2 years:

    Marcus Williams
    100 D-Leaguers
    Devean George
    Al Harrington
    Jamal Crawford
    Speedy Claxton
    Acie Law

    Spit on the fans, Cohan & Co.

  • Harp’s Dubs

    3 way trade:
    Monta and Sasha Pavlovic to Sacramento
    Kevin Martin and Anthony Randolph or Brandan Wright to Minnesota
    Al Jefferson and Omri Casspi to the Warriors

  • Mike

    It’s clear the Warriors’ management are a bunch of liars. Dumping Claxton’s contract now was total bull and should tell everyone that this team is not going to make moves necessary to win. I’ve been a Warrior fan since they arrived in the Bay Area, and I give up!

  • George

    Expiring contracts are worthless to a club like ours. We need to build with the draft and the only way of doing well with that is to get early picks. OKC had a bad team for several years and drafted 3 guys in the top 5.
    We sucked last year and still only got a number 6. We were lucky that the Curry fell to us. We are going to be bad for a couple more years.
    Just forget about a free agent signing here. As far as trades Baron was hated by his coach in New Orleans and we were lucky that they gave him up. NO one willingly comes to this organization

  • Whack-A-Dub

    Mike, Obviously, Riley is going to lie. Cohan is an asshole and the only way we get Lebron or Bosh is, get Ellison to buy the dubs before the offseason (cmon Larry, we need you NOW). He talked to Lebron when he came to Oracle. The guy is the 4th richest man in the world, and knows what bullshit and underdog mean. Oracle is always being harassed by Microsoft stealing technology and using it for themselves. Trust me, the guy knows what to do and looks like someone that wants to run a franchise, not sit back and be the worst owner in all of sports. As for the trade, yes now that Monta is down, bye bye Magette, and Riley saying the backcourt is “untochable” its just a way of increasing their value, like saying its in case we really need it. This guy is an asshole. And has anyone noticed that Cohan, Nellie, and Riley all look alike??

  • Jeremy

    How about Beidrins and Randolph to Minnesota for Kevin Love, Mark Blount’s expiring contract and a swap of their ’10 pick for the Warriors ’11 pick (1st rounders)?

    Love can shoot a little bit, is a better rebounder than maybe anyone on the team, and those outlet passes to Monta and Curry would start a lot of extra fastbreaks. Blount saves the Warriors’ satan owner ~$8M. Plus the Warriors would have a shot at two top 5 picks…

    The Twolves wouldn’t be much better this year with Randolph hurt, but next year Flynn, Brewer, Gomes, Jefferson, Beidrins is a pretty sweet starting lineup and Randolph is a potential star. I don’t know if that’s worth a top 5 pick or not… but supposedly the Wolves want more young veterans to help stabilize the team. It at least accomplishes their #1 MO of moving Jefferson to PF.

  • Whack-A-Dub

    I like Kevin Love, but we’d be better off with Turfiaf and Tolliver going for Al Jefferson and their first round pick. Minnesota is doing horrible This year, and if we could snag Derrick Favors AND Cole Aldrich at once, god Riley would be the hometown hero for a long time.

  • Whack-A-Dub

    Stephen Curry/Watson/Monta
    Monta Ellis/CJ Watson/Azubuike
    Anthony Morrow(start/Cory Magette (bench)
    Al Jefferson/Randolph/Turiaf

    Instead of trading turiaf, we trade wright

    We could throw in Vladamir and Raja Bell in there:
    Bell, Radmonavic, Tolliver, Wright for Jefferson and a first rounder

  • immafan4ever

    I’ve been a fan of the warriors for at least 30yrs. I’ve listened on radio when most of games weren’t on tv. I don’t care who buys the team as long as they try to put a good product on the floor. All of you who rant and rave about the supporting fans just don’t get it. We aren’t just there during the good years (and there hasn’t been many) we’re there all the time. I read the comments that some of you post and they’re ridiculous. Most can’t manage their checkbooks and but believe they have the wisdom to run a professional team. Others whine and pine for past players who helped us as much as they ever could. I would like to see a different coach that promotes defense so we can stop those 3rd qtr runs that tend to put us on the losing end. And don’t believe the myth that nobody wants to come here. Baron didn’t go to the Clippers because of the lure of their uniforms. Maggette didn’t come here because of the Golden Gate. If you pay them, they will come. As far as the uproar over Claxton, he was an asset but the injuries made him a liability at the time. We’ll see if it us hurts at trading time. Either way I’ll be there because a I’m a fan forever.

  • Harp’s Dubs

    @Jeremy – nice idea about Love. Minnesota will not trade their potential #1-4 pick this year however because we may be good next year (depending on this summer) and the pick may be significantly lower. Minnesota would give up their second rounder with Love and Blount for Goose and Randolph. I have the feeling Kahn will not move Love, but his skillset would be a nice complement to Turiaf and Brandan Wright next year. I also like the ability to shed Blount’s contract this summer.

  • Whack-A-Dub

    whoops, made a mistake back there. it would look like:
    Ellison takes over as owner, fires all of cohan’ clowns, including nellie and the newest member of the circus, Larry Riley. He hires a GM that is actually a GM,not a two year old in a Fat white man’s body. we acquire byron scott as head coach and were pretty much on our way to 50 wins. Oh and hire Nate thurmond as a player development coach to help develop favors,randolph, aldrich, etc.

  • Whack-A-Dub

    No way we’re getting Love, Harp’s, not with this kind of bad management

  • wildwest

    I’m so weary of people trashing Larry Riley. I have known him personally for 20 years, and the guy is as straight as an arrow, loaded with integrity and class. In an industry of selfish lightweights, GS is fortunate to have him–stick with him, and believe what he says. I am honored to call him my friend!

  • dan

    Cohan will have to sell if the oracle arena is empty from now to rest of season. Ellison is not in a hurry because he knows the W’s are going down…The W’s will have to overpay for FA ala Magette so keeping the cap space won’t do them any good. They have to resolve the ownership situation first the hope to get lucky in the draft.

  • Whack-A-Dub

    dan, should the warriors get favors, a PF/SF that has a dominant offensive game, or Cole Aldrich, a C with a dominant rebounding game that is on a winning team?

  • dan


    The W’s need a beefy PF and I do mean BEEF like 240+, not another skinny Randolph or Wright. A quick/skilled SF would do too. They can not draft another skinny 210-220 lbs forward and hope the guy will get better/bigger.

    If Wall is there, get him then deal Curry. I am not a Curry fan, period.

  • Whack-A-Dub

    the only two in the upcoming draft that fit that are

    deMarcus Cousins (280 but not explosive, no offesive game, does not run the floor, clear no-pick for the Dubs.)But cousins can run the floor, and push the ball and has a decent shot. Off the court he would be a phenomenal dunker in a dunk contest, but is REALLY unexplosive in a game, he plays like he just woke up.

    then there is Cole Aldrich(245) who is a good rebounder and outlet big man, not the Kevin Love type, but would be a legit C for the W’s. also look at Kansas’ record, it shows this guy can win games with a solid backcourt.

    then comes Derrick Favors. 6-9, 246, a bulky athletic beast who shows a great work ethic. Can run the floor easily. He can pick and pop with a mid-range jumper. Shoots from the line decently. The guy can crash boards even when you don’t crash boards, I mean he can rebound. he runs the floor very easily. He shows a high IQ for the game. averages 2 blocks per game, he is a shotblocking presence and makes people change their shots even if he doesn’t block shots, but the guy gets fatigued. What do you think, dan?

  • Whack-A-Dub

    only three

  • Whack-A-Dub

    This is exactly why I say go for Minnesota or Washington’s pick. We’re going to give up Magette and George anyway, at least get a first rounder for them. If we can keep playing as horribly as we can, we’ll have the no.2 pick in no time.

  • Whack-A-Dub


    Apparently the T’wolves only got rubio as a huge chip, they’re really after Wall now.

  • Lufty455

    Do you guys think they can fire themselves???
    I mean Nellie, Riley, Rowell, and Cohan.
    I tried giving my tickets away but I could not find any takers…

  • Jeremy

    If the Warriors end up #2 I’d say they have to go with Evan Turner. He could play as a big PG with Ellis, or he could shift over to SF when Curry is on the floor and give the team two lethal passers who can score.

    Actually, if they end up with #1 I hope they trade down and grab Turner. I know they will get the #1 pick this year just so they can screw up having to choose betwen Ellis, Wall, and Curry of which two to keep. I keep Ellis and Curry if I’m the Warriors.

    Wes Johnson looks like a clone of Shawn Marion, I’ll take that too.

    Athletically, the big man I’d want is Cousins but I fear in a circus like this place he would go more the way of Jackson than Curry.

    I like Greg Monroe more than Favors. Both have significant upside yet to be reached, but Monroe looks much better on offense. He’s a year older so it should be expected, but just my opinion.

    Please no Cole Aldrich… please. He is only a lottery pick for lack of 13 players better, not because he is a future NBA star or even All Star. He shouldn’t even be in the conversation.

  • Whack-A-Dub

    Jeremy, turner is the last guy we want.Another big with an undersized game? no thanks. I like how he can play multiple positions, but I’ve already seen Tyreke Evans and the last thing the Dubs need is a guy that is ball dominant and turnover prone. Favors and Cousins are probably better. Favors is a shotblocking presence, whereas cousins seem to get dunked on once a week.

  • dan

    The w’s need a guy who can camp inside and bang people around even if he has limited offensive skill. Someone who can grab boards and bang bodies. Biedrins is just too skinny. Look at Howard in Orlando, he has no offensive game but he is big, physical and nobody can move him out of the painted area. I like Favors even tho he is still too young. I don’t like Cousins who seem to be lazy…Imagine if Biedrins weighe 250+ instead of 230, he would be what the W’s need.

  • James H

    I finally gave up on the GSW’s 2 years ago when they lost Baron and ended up with Magette…the insanity involved which culminated in Mullin’s exit is not worth revisiting. The Warriors front office makes the Raiders situation look reasonable. This team has no plan, no future, and no hope. It is a disgrace from top to bottom and has been for years. Every move they make is beyond comprehension. An ape throwing darts at an option chart would have made far better choices than these clowns. I have been a huge fan for over 30 years and I just can’t care anymore…too depressing. It broke my heart to let the Raiders go 5+ years ago and now I must do the same with the Warriors. We seem to be cursed in the Bay Area with all of our major sports franchises owned and managed by incompetent fools. The A’s are an exception of sorts though they are owned by billionaires who can’t find theirs wallets and who clearly have no interest in getting a new stadium built; knowing that we’ll gobble up the lip service and feel sympathy because evil cities, teams (SF Giants), and MLB are at fault for all of the delays. All of this BS has turned me off to sports in general…I don’t go to games anymore and often go weeks without seeking local sports news. There is no player continuity, no reason for optimism, no reason to get emotionally invested anymore. I still have a passion for sports and I miss it intensely at time but our local teams and the state of major sports in general have just ruined it for me…and for many other I know. If I were into hockey…I could get behind the Sharks as their ownership and management know how to run a franchise. It really isn’t about winning (although wining is nice), it is about seeing those running a team actually care…having them take pride in the product they are selling to us…having them show that they respect their fans and the hard earned money we spend supporting our teams. I just don’t feel that anymore. It is a sad pathetic situation. My life is less enjoyable as a result but I simply cannot endure the constant absurdity and disrespect any longer.

  • Aaron

    All you can do is laugh and cry, cry and laugh. The Warriors and most of the fans that consider themselves “diehards” are insane. “We had to make room for Morrow to play” Hilarious. Would he be starting or being made room to play on a playoff team? Negative. Would Buike be getting more than 10-15 minutes of run on a playoff team? Negative. It’s so sad how low hard and fast this team has fallen since the magical playoff run. I think some of the people here have it right, this team is at Raiders level or worse. They are so atrocious, don’t really play any brand of basketball, and can’t be watched for more than five minutes straight unless you have a five gallon bucket of GSW “Do You Believe” kool-aid next to the couch. You couldn’t screw up a team more if you tried. They’d be better off hiring a chimpanzee as their GM.

  • luckypaul

    Lots of good comments. One thought overwhelms all others: Fire Nellie. Why is he still coaching?!

  • Whack-A-Dub

    Aaron, I agree, this team isn’t even rebuiding. We’re like the nets, but we suck more. We’re not even getting the #1 pick. And why the hell is Monta still here? He should have been kicked off the roster the minute Curry had that 10th rebound. Riley is a joke. So is Cohan. So is Nellie. I hope they’re all gone next year, with a new Larry as the owner, a guy that wants to buy another franchise and move it here. Bullshit. Cohan’s selling the W’s for 400mil.That’s almost 100mil over asking price. Curry is literally the only legit prospect that isn’t just a ten year project that will be effective once they get old enough to sign a $500,000 contract with some other team and lead them to a championship as a “veteran”.

    If we don’t have Ellison buy the franchise before the playoffs, have him get us a high pick and trade Monturnover and Fagette away for someone else’s lottery pick, this team is doomed. No way we can rebuild next year, with a draft full of flops.

    We’re basically screwed.