On Tuesday, Golden State Warriors general manager Larry Riley said he would be quick to make a decision on the Dakota Wizards coaching staff.
He wasn’t kidding.
On Wednesday — one day after the Warriors bought the Wizards — Riley called Rory White to tell him he was out as Dakota’s head coach.
“I talked to Larry Riley this morning, and he said they wanted to go in a new direction,” White said. “They want to start everything fresh.”
The 51-year-old White coached the Wizards for two seasons, guiding the team to a 48-52 record. The Wizards went 29-21 in 2009-10, losing in the first round of the playoffs. But the Wizards tailed off badly last season, dropping to 19-31 and missing the postseason for the first time since 2005-06.
“It’s been great coaching in Bismarck,” White said. “First off I want to thank the organization, and I want to thank the fans for all the support they’ve given me. I wish I could have brought them a championship.
“... I still think Bismarck has the No. 1 fans in all of minor league basketball.”
Riley said that the Warriors wanted to bring in somebody who could mesh well with the Warriors’ new head coach, Mark Jackson.
“There were no negative issues,” Riley said. We just decided (Tuesday) afternoon that we wanted to start over. That isn’t odd when a new group buys a team.
“We wanted to get a different start, and we wanted somebody to get in line with Mark Jackson and in our system.”
Even though the Warriors just hired Jackson, a former NBA all-star, as their head coach, Riley had said on Tuesday that filling the Wizards’ slot with a big name isn’t a priority. He cited Dave Joerger, who led the Wizards to four championships, as an example.
“It may not necessarily be that you see veteran or former NBA players as a head coach,” Riley said. “There may be some up-and-coming rising star as you’ve had here in the past with coach Joerger. We’re looking for those kinds of people.”
Riley said that the Warriors have already begun to put together a list of candidates, but that the names would not be divulged. He added that the Warriors wouldn’t put a timeline on hiring somebody, just that it would take place well before the start of the season.
“We’re going to take our time,” he added.
In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Warriors director of basketball operations Kirk Lacob said that several people would have input into the coaching decision. Among those weighing in will be Lacob; Riley; Mike Riley, a pro scout for the Warriors; Bob Myers, the Warriors assistant general manager; Travis Schlenk, the Warriors director of player personnel; plus Jackson and his top assistant, Michael Malone.
As for White, he said that he understood why the Warriors decided to bring in their own staff.
“I think that’s the way it goes,” White said. “They’ve got a new coach in Mark Jackson, and they want to see what direction he wants to go in. It’s going to be somebody who can run their system. I think I would have been able to do that, but they wanted somebody new.”
White’s stated goal has always been to return to the NBA, where he has had stints as a player and an assistant coach. But he said he has nothing lined up yet.
“Because of the possibility of the lockout, everything in the NBA is on hold, but hopefully something will open up if it gets resolved,” White said.