Pat Riley, the personable 37-year-old coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, went into the championship series against Philadelphia with his future secure for the first time in several years. He has been told he'll be back as coach, no matter what happens in the finals.
Riley's return wasn't as obvious as it may have appeared, despite the Lakers' 57-25 record. Before the playoffs began, he told friends that he thought his team would have to reach the finals to keep his job. He was given the job when Paul Westhead was fired 11 games (7-4) into the season because of dissension on the club.
Owner Jerry Buss admitted he took a wait-and-see attitude about the former radio color commentator who had been coaching less than a full season. However, after the Lakers swept San Antonio, the flamboyant owner said he had decided to ask Riley to handle the team again next season.
Buss also said that ailing Bill Sharman will move up from general manager to president and be replaced by special consultant Jerry West, who has been handling most of the preparation for the draft.
Buss also said his first priority will be to retain Bob McAdoo, who signed a one-year contract for a reported $175,000 Dec. 24.
The return of McAdoo and the probable drafting of North Carolina's power forward, James Worthy, with the No. 1 pick, leaves Mitch Kupchak's future very much in doubt. The former Bullet was injured Dec. 19 and may need additional surgery to repair his knee.