NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks are preparing to make an all-out effort to lure former Los Angeles Lakers coach Pat Riley back into coaching now that John MacLeod has moved on to Notre Dame, according to a team source.
Basically, the job is Riley's, the source said. But to get Riley, who led the Lakers to four NBA championships in the 1980s, Paramount Communications, owner of the Knicks, would have to dig deeply into its considerable cash flow.
Riley earns about $450,000 a year as a studio analyst for NBC during the NBA season, but makes a substantial amount of money in speaking engagements. The Knicks would have to be willing to extend Riley a five-year contract worth in excess of $1 million a season.
"We haven't discussed any kind of budget," vice president of player personnel Ernie Grunfeld said yesterday. Riley could not be reached for comment.
Grunfeld and club president Dave Checketts described the next Knicks coach -- the franchise's sixth since November 1986 -- this way: "He has to be a proven winner, a guy you can work with, and someone who will be around a long time."
Sounds a lot like the 46-year-old Riley, who said he left the Lakers after last season because "it was time to move on to something new." But those close to him, including Lakers guard Magic Johnson, say Riley would be willing to coach in the NBA again -- if the right job surfaced. "There are only two jobs for Pat Riley: the Lakers and New York. I think he'd be interested in the Knicks," Johnson said.
MacLeod, who replaced Stu Jackson Dec. 3, said he took the Notre Dame job for security (a five-year contract) and for family reasons.
"I always liked Notre Dame, and the college life is conducive to family life," said MacLeod, 53, who has a wife and two teen-age children.