But how well a team operates really depends on and starts with the dedication of the ones sitting at the very top. Yes, the personality of an owner can truly reflect the successes and failures of a team, and there is no better example of this than seeing the before and after of the Golden State Warriors when Joe Lacob became the majority owner.
For so many years, the Warriors were run by an ownership that is well documented as an utter failure and disaster. We won’t get into the specifics of that because it’s now in the distant past, but to sum up how they did under the Chris Cohan regime, the team made the postseason just once in the span of nearly two decades.
All of that didn’t instantly change when Lacob took over, but he deeply wanted to see the team take a direction for the better. That was never more clear when he allowed then-GM Larry Riley to trade fan-favorite guard Monta Ellis for an injured Andrew Bogut. The fans initially did not take kind to the decision and made sure Lacob felt their wrath, but it proved to be the culture-changing move the team desperately needed.
Then came last season, when everything really began to change. Working with thoughtful and intelligent people was of great importance to Lacob, and that much is clear when you see the people he has hired in Jerry West and Mark Jackson. Out went Riley and in came Bob Myers. In came veterans like Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry to help provide stability for a very young team. They drafted Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Draymond Green – all no-nonsense, high-character players to compliment the drafting of Klay Thompson in the previous season.
The culture and expectations of the Warriors have drastically changed in the few years since Lacob took over, and he deserves much credit for having a vision and seeing to it that the team became better under his leadership. Golden State went from being a place everyone wanted to bolt, to one of the top destinations of free agents and veterans from all around the league. Hell, even Dwight Howard gave them real consideration. It’s safe to say that no one saw this coming, and the Warriors and their fan base has Lacob to thank for it all.
Check out this extensive conversation he had with Tim Kawakami of Mercury News, and you’ll see that few understand and care about the intricacies of what’s happening from top to bottom as this man:
And we were always going to keep David Lee. I know you don’t love him, but he’s an All-Star in this league. And frankly, to keep Bogut–we traded a lot to get him and he’s very much a part of our future.
The ideal circumstance was to add somebody who can impact the team in a big way and not give up a lot…
The only thing—we did unfortunately Jarrett Jack, a key contributor, and Carl Landry… I wish we could’ve brought them back. They got big offers, as we suspected they might, and I wish them well.
-Q: You did give up two first-rounders in the process, which is gambling a bit on your future. First, are they protected in any way?
-LACOB: They’re unprotected.
If you were wondering whether the picks the Warriors gave up were protected, there’s the answer to that question. It’s never easy to give up unprotected picks and you never know what the future holds, but given the makeup of the current team and its youth, it’s hard to believe that they gave up too much in this instance. As for the desire to keep David Lee at all costs… we’ll save that discussion for another day.
We’ve added a sixth starter, that’s the way to look at this thing and a really good one, an Olympian, an All-Star.
I don’t think I know of another team in the NBA that can make the claim that they have six starters.
And we’ve addressed the bench–I can’t talk about those players yet, until some deals are official… And we’ve got a couple of great young players that are developing into very good players, we think, in Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli when he comes back.
And we brought in several other players who are really quite good and addressed the individual needs…
I think what we have right now is a very interesting team.
We are at this point big–much bigger than we used to be, bigger at all positions, really.
We are much better defensively than we were two years ago and even a year ago–by adding Andre and some other people, we can put out a real good defensive team.
We are versatile, we have players who can play multiple positions, and that’s key. We have the ability to drive to the basket which we really didn’t have a year ago, Andre helps for that.
-LACOB We were prepared to go well into luxury tax this year at the start of free agency. We were prepared for that to be one of the ways for this all to add up.
We could’ve been well into the 80s or 90s. No matter what, we were going to make sure that we were better next year.
It turns out we were able to work it out so we completely re-structured our payroll as well as make the team better.
And now frankly if Bob Myers comes to me or to our ownership group and says, ‘Hey, we have a chance to acquire such-and-such player but it takes us into luxury tax,’ that is not an issue.
You think Dwght would’ve signed with you if you had the space outright without having to go through major contortions?
-LACOB: I don’t want to speculate on that. That’s really his decision. I think we certainly had some good conversations.
I think he was very impressed. But beyond that, at the end of the day, he chose to go with another team. A team we’re going to beat up this year I hope.
Increasing the team’s depth. Check. Addressing size and defense. Check. Willingness to spend if necessary to help better the team. Check. Desire to kick Dwight Howard’s team’s ass. Check. What more can you want from an owner?
Onto other news from around the league:
- Chauncey Billups is headed back to Detroit, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports: “Nearly a decade after resurrecting the franchise and leading it to an NBA championship, Chauncey Billups has reached agreement on a two-year contract to return to the Detroit Pistons, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The deal will be worth $5 million-plus for Billups, league sources said. Billups, 36, hopes to finish his career where it blossomed in the glory years of the Billups-Richard Hamilton-Ben Wallace Pistons of the mid-2000s. Billups will play the part of mentor for youngDetroit guard Brandon Knight, and be a rotation guard off the bench for Detroit. Pistons general manager Joe Dumars has long regretted tradingBillups to the Denver Nuggets for the expiring contract of Allen Iverson in the 2008-09 season. Now, Dumars has brought back Billups with a mandate to nurture and perform for the Pistons.”