No matter the company, a change at the top means changes at every other level of the organization will soon follow. However, under Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, drastic changes have taken a little longer than usual, and perhaps longer than many thought. The only major difference from last year? The local media and fans don't have Chris Cohan or Don Nelson to kick around anymore. Other than that, the team has been in a holding pattern. Same players (give or take a backup guard or two), same employees (although longtime Warriors trainer Tom Abdenour left the team last week), same under-.500 record.
Since it took a while after the sale was announced for it to get approval from league ownership, what the Warriors' ownership transferal means for the team's future has been a little vague. This week, Lacob decided to shed some light on what they plan to do now that they have the power to shape the team in their vision. The message: no one's job is safe.
Lacob spoke extensively with Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Matt Steinmetz of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News and Ethan Sherwood Strauss of Warriorsworld.net last week. While some of the subjects overlapped a bit, each of the interviews touched on different parts of Lacob's personality and the future of the Warriors as he sees it. Since the Warriors are 19-24, in terms of importance the thoughts and future plans of this new ownership tandem outweigh the scores of recent games (although we'll touch on their two exciting wins against the Pacers and Kings -- as well as their loss to the Los Angeles Blake Griffins -- a little bit later on). The thing I took from these talks (besides the fact that Lacob is infinitely more comfortable chatting with the press than Cohan ever was) is that we shouldn't confuse Lacob's insistence on waiting until after this season to make changes with Lacob being hesitant to clean house. Far from it. Here's a few of the most interesting Lacob quotes from each interview, along with a few translations that don't necessarily represent views Lacob and the Golden State Warriors would agree with ... publicly, anyway.
From Cohn's interview:
"I can't tell you how many CEOs I've had to fire, remove under horrible circumstances," he said. "No company I've ever been associated with has had one CEO from the beginning all the way through. I am a finder and I am a fixer."
Translation: If you're working for the Warriors, and you've been coasting along without showing tangible results, you should be afraid. Very, very afraid.
From Steinmetz's Q&A:
I'm taking notes as I go along, and a few things, if they're really bad, they'll have to change. I don't want to say really bad, if there's issues, they'll have to change.
I mean everybody. There's a lot to this. I'm looking at ticketing. Are we doing that properly? We got the right people?
We have some turnover right now. Well, people are worried about the lockout potential and they might figure they don't have job security. They don't know and they're worried. This is an unusual year.
If you were an employee here, you're worried. You've got a new guy coming in here talking to everybody, you got the pending lockout scenario that's in the papers. There's a lot of stuff.
Translation: I've heard the whispers in the building, and they're true -- a lot of Warriors employees are going to get replaced. Especially anybody involved with keeping enough healthy bodies around to actually field an NBA team.
Kawakami's interview had a couple sections that dealt with turnover (and not in a "one-handed pass thrown out of bounds" sense):
There are parts of the way the organization runs which are at least at this point unclear to me, as to why they run that way. I'm trying to understand those, either by directly interviewing and talking to people and participating in staff meetings...
Translation: The Warriors are nothing like the Celtics.
-Q: Did you have any influence on Tom Abdenour leaving (for San Diego State) as trainer?
-LACOB: Tom asked whether he should accept this position which he was offered. And I have to be honest, I think Larry and I both thought it was a good opportunity for him. Actually, a very good opportunity for him.
I think he was at a point where he probably figured, time to make a change. He had been here a long time. And I think we gave him some advice, with respect whether it’d be something he should pursue or not.
Translation: We told him he should probably look for a job, and he took our advice.
And with a little insight on change that could take place in terms of where the Warriors will play 5 or 10 years from now and if they'll face any regional competition, this exchange comes from Strauss' interview:
ESS: There's been talk of an NBA team in San Jose. How does that idea strike you?
Joe Lacob: It doesn't strike me. We are the NBA team of the Bay Area. We're San Francisco, we're Oakland, we're San Jose, put them in whatever order you want to put them in. We happen to be playing in Oakland. That's where the arena is. But we have territorial rights. This is the NBA team for the entire Bay Area, those are our fans, they come to our games, I have friends in Monterey who come to the games. I have friends in Napa who come to the games. People in Sacramento actually who's not in our territory (laughs)...come to the games. So, it's an irrelevant point to me. There's not going to be an NBA team in San Jose.
Translation: San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose ... put them in whatever order YOU want to put them in. Peter and I actually think of them in that exact order, except you could probably flip Oakland and San Jose and we'd be agreeable to that. And go ahead and bring it, Larry Ellison. The Maloof brothers too -- if you want some, come get some!
Other interesting tidbits:
- Regarding Keith Smart's decisions, Lacob told Kawakami, "There are times that I do not understand it ... There's a method to his madness to this point, I think. There are times I don't quite get it and I think he's still trying to work the kinks out."
- Lacob told both Steinmetz and Kawakami that he'd be willing to go over the luxury tax, something he said before the season that the Warriors probably would not want to do. However, with the collective bargaining agreement expiring after this season, Lacob may feel comfortable making this claim because there may be no luxury tax when the new CBA goes into place.
- Lacob told Steinmetz that the Warriors are "getting offers for Jeremy Lin. More than one. This week alone." Lacob seemed a little defensive about Lin.
- Contrary to what Keith Smart says, Lacob told Strauss that Andris Biedrins is avoiding contact because he fears shooting free throws (Biedrins made 16% from the line last season, 27% this year). Most fans and observers would probably agree with Lacob there.
In non-Lacob news...
- Former Cal star Aaron Rodgers looked like the best quarterback in the NFL in the first half against Chicago yesterday. Then he threw an interception that wasn't his fault, then he threw a pick that was his fault, then he got crushed helmet-to-helmet style by Julius Peppers and bit his lip. Rodgers was shaky the rest of the game but still held on to reach his first Super Bowl, the first Super Bowl appearance for Green Bay since 1997 when they lost 31-24 to
Terrell Davis the Denver Broncos.
- It counts as old news now, but Al Davis had another press conference for the ages (no pun intended) on Jan. 18. It was supposed to serve as the introduction of new head coach Hue Jackson, but once again Davis couldn't keep himself from bad-mouthing his former head coach for a minute or 30.
- Nnamdi Asomugha, Shane Lechler and Patrick Willis all made first-team NFL All-Pro.
- Griffin torched the Warriors with a 30/18/8 performance and several ridiculous dunks (the reverse alley-oop being the most spectacular, in this blogger's opinion) in the Clippers' 113-108 win on Saturday night. On the bright side, Griffin probably did the Warriors' ticket sales department a favor when it comes to selling seats to future home games against the Clips, the red-headed stepchild of the Los Angeles NBA scene (literally and figuratively). Too bad the Warriors don't play the Clippers again until after the next NBA season starts.
- Stephen Curry (who didn't sound as untouchable in Lacob's recent interviews as he seemed to be before the season) followed up an 11-point performance against Indiana by scoring 34 in the overtime win over Sacramento and 32 in the loss to the Clippers.
- The San Francisco Giants signed Andres Torres to a one year, $2.1 million deal, marking the sixth and final arbitration-eligible Giant (along with Cody Ross, Jonathan Sanchez, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez) to re-up with the team without, um, arbitrating.
- The Giants also signed Jeff Suppan to a Minor League deal, which turns into a $1 million contract if he makes the team out of Spring Training. Suppan, who's been called this year's Todd Wellemeyer by many, has been pretty terrible since 2007. However, in seven outings last season after coming back from injury on Sept. 1, Suppan had a 3.41 ERA and 1.24 WHIP for the Cardinals, who picked Suppan up after Milwaukee released him.
- While the Giants haven't changed much since winning the World Series, their radio coverage will be different going into next season. With Jon Miller leaving ESPN, he'll be with the Giants full-time for the first season since joining the team in 1997, F.P. Santangelo's leaving to become the TV color commentator for the Washington Nationals, and Mychael Urban announced via Twitter that he would no longer host the pre- and post-game shows for the Giants on KNBR.
- The San Jose Sharks traded for enforcer Ben Eager and claimed forward Kyle Wellwood off waivers, and are currently riding a 4-game winning streak.
- The Sacramento Kings have lost their last four games by a combined 17 points, the largest margin of defeat coming in the OT game in Oakland (119-112). Despite keeping the games close, they're still percentage points behind Minnesota for the worst record in the Western Conference.