A place for me to talk about San Francisco Bay Area sports.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My thoughts on Lacob, the Warrior's New(-ish) Owner

I see a lot of gripes about Lacob on the web.  I don't see why Warriors fans are so down on him.

Lacob was not way off targeting the playoffs for this season: last season, with basically the same group of players, the team was roughly .500 when Lee was healthy and playing, it was just that the team sucked while he was out with that infected elbow bite and then once he was back and trying to get back into game playing shape. It was a push goal, but not a massively big one.

Obviously Curry's ankle injuries put a big crimp into that scenario. If you think that Lacob is to blame for Curry's recurrent injury, then you can blame the season on him.

Not that I'm sold on Lacob. I just don't expect a miracle out of him. Nor is it prudent to expect one just because of nearly 30 years of ineptitude that, by the way, has nothing to do with Lacob himself. I'm willing to give him a few years to make the changes, there is no way to change an NBA team (or any sports franchise for that matter) on a dime and suddenly it is a contender, that is not realistic.

So far, I like the changes. Sure, trading for Bogut is risky. But it was a calculated risk based on having Klay Thompson, who might not be Monte, but with enough development, who knows, maybe he could be better. Now we just need to hope that Bogut is not injury prone - he says that his injuries are not recurrent injury situations, more fluke injuries - and that gives us a big piece of the competitive puzzle if he is ready. And if not, at least they tried to do something to get bigger.

Better than not taking the risk on, say, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and other young risky picks that the Warriors passed on by taking a more conservative "sure" pick.

People are also forgetting that the Warriors were able to also get another first round pick out of the trade, and while people are apparently disappointed that the team is losing, I'm happy because it increases the odds of the team holding onto its draft pick for this season. If it were me, I would have sunk the season early on, especially once Curry had a re-occurence in his ankle injury, in order to regain that draft pick. As it is, they are close enough now, barring massive bad luck with the ping pong balls again.

I also like his move to get an ex-agent, Myers, to be his GM in training. You can't just jettison Riley immediately. Then you have nobody who can at least handle salary negotiations and trades for you, and you will have to hire some retread somewhere who will want a lot of money to be the lame duck GM until Myers is ready. Riley is competent enough and presumably training Myers on the parts in the art of being a GM.

I also like him getting Jerry West on his team of advisors. He might be old, but he's still a good talent evaluator, and he has a lot of connections in the NBA, that will help grease deals once Myers is in charge. He is presumably giving Myers lessons on how to be a great GM, as well.  He is also a calculated risk taker.  Teams don't get good in the NBA by being conservative, you have to reach for the brass ring because at least you are trying to be in the game that way. Being conservative is the hallmark of the Cohan era, and we all saw what that got us.

Also, the lockout and shortened season didn't help Lacob either.

I'm going to give Lacob time.

He's a smart guy who was in venture capital, which tells me that he knows how to size up a business, figure out (with help of subject matter experts) what the competitive advantages are, then executing making that happen. He was involved with the ownership of the Boston Celtics as they re-built themselves into a championship-worthy team again, and got both close-up experience as well as making connections in the league that he can go to when he need advice or another viewpoint.

Sure, the Biedrins amnesty mistake hurts and was compounded by the loss of Jeremy Lin in the pursuit of that Clippers center (though to be fair, nobody really cared that we lost Lin when that happened and had the Warriors held onto Lin, he probably wouldn't have gotten a chance to show off what he could do now, after re-making himself physically in the off-season).

If you want a team that never makes mistakes, well, you are in the wrong business (or really, shouldn't follow any sports at all). At least they were trying (and I was with everyone on that, I didn't like losing the amnesty slot plus I didn't like losing Lin either, not because I thought he was that good, just because he was a local kid, as well as an Asian-American kid) to get better and took some risks doing that. I applaude that effort, if not the results (because it seemed pretty obvious to me, and I'm not a big basketball fan, that the Clippers were going to resign the guy).

Lacob is the right owner for the Warriors right now. First, most of all, he's not Cohan. He made his money himself, using his smarts to achieve wealth most of us can only dream about. Second, he's willing to take calculated risks to get the team improved. Sure, they don't all all work, but I like the management team he is assembling and that is the more important step to me, right now, than getting lucky in assembling the basketball team. Third, he has key experience and background in basketball, as well as connections, unlike Cohan, who had money/business from his father and no real business success experience that I'm aware of, a cable company is a monopoly situation, you just need to milk it (which, come to think of it, is an apt description of his period as Warrior's owner).

I had actually wanted Larry Ellison to win the bidding for the team and was disappointed initially with Lacob winning. But I think his experience with the Celtics is what started me on the path to liking him, and his moves so far, while not perfect, has the team in the right direction.  I am happy with Lacob as the owner, and look forward to seeing what he can do with the team in the next few years. 

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