March 6, 2011

Lacob's Jabber

There's lots to talk about in Oaktown. In the last several days, the good guys debuted their latest no-D gunnin' swingman, gave a $54 million man's starting lineup spot to a rookie, and faced two of the other eight NBA originals, losing to both Celts and Sixers in that torturous fashion that exemplifies dem Dubs on the road. There's plenty of basketball-related business that we'd like to discuss. But we can't get to that stuff just yet, because the Warriors' new owner simply refuses to shut up.

We Worriers were heartened by the fact that Joe Lacob attended the Sloan MIT Sports Analytics Conference over the weekend, a stat-nerd summit that the Warriors eschewed last year. We were somewhat less heartened by the only news he made there, claiming that bloggers "are not real fans, because they don't have season tickets" (though to be fair, the context was and remains murky). And we were downright, well, worried by Lacob's recent interview with Tim Kawakami. The whole piece is worth reading in a "buckle your seatbelts" sort of way, but these are the five takeaways that troubled us the most:

1) Joe Lacob's math is fuzzy. He makes the de rigueur reference to "$20 million in expiring contracts"; when Kawakami currently points out that said expirings won't actually lead to much flexibility in practice, Lacob sort of waves his hands, saying, "we'll be well under the cap." The Dubs have $49.1 million in salary commitments for next season, an average figure. The cap, which stands at $58 million this year, won't be anywhere near that high once the owners finish savaging the players this summer. As such, Lacob's claim is -- let's put this politely -- unconvincing.

2) Joe Lacob seems to think 2nd-round picks are awesome. If the Brandan Wright dump didn't already make it clear, Lacob has a vicious case of Landry Fields Syndrome: "We've got good flexibility as far as free agents go, we've got a no. 1 draft pick and a no. 2 draft pick coming up and we think we can improve the team." Setting aside the facts that the Warriors don't have much flexibility and that every NBA team is given a no. 1 and no. 2 pick every season, the fact that Lacob regards the newly-won 2nd-round pick as an asset worth mentioning is troubling. What happens seven months from now, when the Warriors' second-rounder gets cut in camp, as half of all such picks do?

3) Joe Lacob thinks fans will still buy the "Cohan is cheap" routine. "Unlike the previous regime, we're prepared to spend money. Unlike the previous regime, we're willing to make big moves." Either Lacob thinks the fanbase has forgotten about the hundreds of millions of dollars given to Baron, J-Rich, Dunleavy, Murphy, Foyle, Monta, Maggette, Biedrins and Jack, or he has no understanding of the recent history of this team. We leave it to the reader to decide which possibility is scarier.

4) Joe Lacob thinks Gerald Wallace wouldn't have helped the Warriors. "We could've gotten Gerald Wallace -- he's not somebody we thought would make us better. I really believe that. He doesn't fit for us. He's a good defensive player, rebounder, certain things that do fit, certain things that don't." You have to give Lacob points for accuracy here -- a good defender and rebounder absolutely wouldn't fit on the current Warriors roster. Take that weird crap somewhere else, Gerald!

5) Joe Lacob thinks Antawn Jamison would've helped the Warriors. Lacob alludes to a deadline trade the Warriors were willing to make that fell through: "...we were acquiring significant starting-level talent who for us would've been on the bench and given us tremendous depth." The Warriors were buzzing around one and only one player when the deadline hit, and that was our old pal Antawn, a guy who certainly won't freak you out by rebounding or playing D. The discussed deal involved Troy Murphy's contract. In other words, the Warriors' braintrust was willing to take on '11-'12 salary to make a playoff push, but the guy they thought would put them over the hump was yet another ineffective volume scorer.

Lacob seems to have learned the wrong lessons from the Cohan Era. Chris Cohan wasn't despised because he never granted interviews or because he didn't spend enough money; Chris Cohan was despised because he led a basketball outfit that had no idea what it was doing. The problem was never that Cohan didn't want to win... any profit-minded owner would crave the extra revenue that playoff appearances provide. The problem was that Cohan had no idea how to win.

It's early yet, but thus far in the Lacob Era, the Warriors have suffered from the same malady. They have pissed away useful trade chips for no particular reason; they haven't bothered to fish for upside with their lowest couple roster spots; they have overvalued scoring, and undervalued everything else; most critically, they have shown no awareness of the workings of the typical NBA success cycle. And if Joe Lacob can't rid the front office of these blind spots and misconceptions -- if he can't even rid himself of these blind spots and misconceptions -- he will also become a pariah, no matter how accessible he makes himself.

1 comment:

warriorsscore110 said...

Great article Owen. I think it is way to early judge Joe Lacob, but I will say it is way to early to judge him. I think part of my problem is that I had really high hopes from his early statements and the fact that his name was not Christopher Cohan. I would like to judge him from his results (a highly competetive team, top 4-5 in West) or at least on the path to go toward those results. Granted that it has only been 6 months since the ownership change and this type of change doesnt happen overnight, I havent been impressed by the early returns.

First, I care mostly about results as I have already said. the fact that he is not hiding like Cohan or blatantly trying to run away from disasters and promote minor victories like Rowell is nice, but in reality I don't care. Cohan's relationship to his fans (or lack thereof) was simply the gas on the fire. Peter Guber is a smart man, I am sure he can explain to Lacob why Rowell is not popular person here. He is THE symbol the failing 'dynasty' of Cohan. To me he has 3 defining memories. 1) Sticking it to the fans who bought playoff push packages in 07 (me included, where 3rd playoff seats would not be guaranteed unless we bought season tickets next year) and then immediately jacking up prices for the next season and his statements regarding it. 2) His statement that J-Rich was a class act for the shortcomings of the 05-06 season, when the blame should have been on the front office for not making a trade to help push us over the hump. 3) And his defining moments 08 April. Exiled Chris Mullin for not winning enough, extended SJax and acted like it was a brillant manuever, and created a permanent rift between ownership and then franchise player Monta Ellis. I am sure Guber/Lacob can find a person to do Rowell's job as good or better than he could and fire the symbolic man of the Cohan era.

2)Larry Riley and Keith Smart, both seem like nice people but they have below average track records and have done nothing to inspire us to believe that they have an unseen brillance waiting to come out. Riley in particular, other than signing nice a role player (Wright), finding a d-league bench player (Williams), and a decent salary dump (Maggette) all of his moves have been neutral to horrible. The most blatant mistake being the horrid contract and trade assets lost for David Lee. Fire these guys and turn over basketball operations to someone competent of running that portion. My biggest problem is his constant reference to the Celtics. He was a bit player there. If he was inspired by what he saw, fine, but don't act like that was his personal conquest.

I am not goint to get into his interview points about personnal. It is laughable as you pointed out. Going for Jamison, claiming Wallace is no help, wanting to build around Curry/Ellis, glad about having DLEE and his contrat,...etc. It is dissapointing.

But again, the most important thing is progess and going toward the goal. The goal is to be a top 4 team in the West and the fact that Lacob is dead set on being a 35-40 win team is depressing.