Owners' Box: Joe Lacob Responds To First Set Of Fan Questions - Part 2 - 2/11/11
Fans are encouraged to send questions to OwnersBox@gs-warriors.com. All questions will be read and we will answer as many as we can, so check back for updates throughout the season.
Friday, February 11 (12:41 p.m.)
Joe Lacob Responds To First Set Of Fan Questions - Part 2
********************************************************************************* Read Part 1 of this edition of the Owners' Box by clicking here.
Dear Mr. Lacob,
I know you guys can't respond directly to this message but I have a few things to say. I'm 18 years old and I've been a Warriors fan since childhood. I know we're not a playoff team yet. But through all the interviews I've read or listened about you, I know you are very passionate about winning and I respect your knowledge about basketball. I have been reading a lot of articles about the possibility of trades happening because our record just isn't where we want it to be. But I just beg you that you make careful decisions. We want to win a championship, not just make it to the playoffs. And I feel that many fans get that mixed up. We don't want to be a team to just make the playoffs, I'd rather wait and build a team that will be competing for a championship. So as a fan I ask you don't rush any choices. Just know that this fan base has your back and understands that through time we can be a lot better team. Thank you!
P.S Thank you for buying the team :)
ANSWER: Thanks, Armen, for the e-mail. I can assure you that I have one primary goal in mind for this organization to put a championship-caliber basketball team on the floor. Like you, I am not interested in simply making the playoffs or settling for the eighth seed every few years. We have bigger aspirations and will not tolerate the lack of success that this organization has endured the last 15 or 16 years. It's unacceptable. We want to win championships and raise new banners in Oracle Arena, as I noted the night I was introduced to the Bay Area. We will make decisions that will help us reach that goal and will not make any hasty moves that might compromise our future. In other words, we will not confuse action with productivity.
Hello Mr. Lacob and Mr. Guber,
First things first, THANK YOU for purchasing this organization and showing passion for this team and wanting to bring it back to glory. Since the announcement of the sale, as a very avid Warriors fan, I have been extremely happy and grateful that there is now an owner that wants to turn this team into a contender. Alright, this will not be a long-winded thank you letter, just showing that the fans appreciate the stance the new ownership group is taking so far to make this franchise better.
Now to the point of you all having this new feature for the fans.
Are there any plans to bring the All-Star Game back to the Bay Area in the future?
Is there any plan to bring in a replacement for the disappearance of Thunder, the Warriors mascot up until after the 2007 season?
What is the best launching point for someone wanting to make a career in the NBA?
There are not too many other questions I have that you have already stated cannot be answered at this time in regards to roster moves, potential trades, etc. so I will leave it at this for now.
Thanks for the e-mail, Jack. I appreciate the kind words.
We would certainly be interested in having the All-Star Game return to the Bay Area at some point in time. From what I can gather, the league selects the host city at least two years in advance and the next opening may not be until at least 2014. And, keep in mind that the Warriors hosted the All-Star Game in 2000 and that, typically, the league likes to include most of the NBA cities in the rotation. Nonetheless, All-Star Weekend is a great event and we'd certainly entertain the idea in the future.
In regards to a replacement for Thunder, we have tossed around the idea of a having another mascot at some point. I think this is something kids (and even adults) enjoy when they attend a game. As you may recall, the team in Oklahoma City eventually became the "Thunder" and, thus, the disappearance of our former mascot. I can assure you that any new mascot ideas in the future would come with some input from our fans. This is your team.
If you are interested in a career in the NBA (front office job), I have one recommendation for you serve an internship when you are in college with your local NBA team (or ANY NBA team). Once you get your foot in the door, make it impossible for that team to not hire you!
My two cents: Keith Smart is a good find. Keep him. He is young and smart. He can relate to the players and he can give them a piece of his mind when he must. He knows the game. He represents the team well. No downside with this coach. Give him what he needs to win and he'll succeed. I don't think you need to change coaches. Just my two cents.
Thanks for your efforts. It's exciting to have you guys running the show.
Thanks, Paul, for the e-mail. I appreciate your input in regards to Coach Smart. As you noted, he has many positive assets about him, from his demeanor to his ability to relate to the players. I think he has done a very good job this season. I have found Keith to be very approachable and I am a big fan, among other things, of his character and level-headedness. That's important during a long 82-game season. Plus, he's had some very good mentors, including Bobby Knight and Don Nelson, two highly successful coaches in the game of basketball. He's earned this opportunity.
My 7-year-old son Hunter and I go to about 10 home games a year, I spend on average $500 a game to see our beloved team. High priced lower bowl seats, food and souvenirs. I drive 55 miles each way and after the recent debacle against the Bobcats, I have reached a breaking point. We need a few changes. I do not see myself paying all that money and driving all that way for this product. Hunter wonders why his dad is in this mood after the game. It's the following morning and I still have a pit in my gut. I spend all this time and money to feel like this? What is it that they say about insanity?
It's clear we need a few tougher minded players, who can play defense but most of all, we need a new coach. We need someone who can get this team ready to play night in and night out. A coach who understands rotations, clarifying rolls, and resting players at critical times so they have something left in the tank for crunch time. Coach Smart has clearly run Monta Ellis into the ground. The Bobcats knew what was inevitable with coach Brown and they knew what to do. Look at what a new coach has done for their team. If I was owner I would be calling someone like Jeff Van Gundy, right now. Why wait? New CBA? Lockout? I do not care. Erosion of a fan base followed by a lockout is not a good business decision in my book.
I am sure I am not the only fan who has reached this conclusion. I have to question, what are we waiting for? A team tends to mirror its coach and it is clear our mirror is broken. Thank you for your time.
I feel your pain. Believe me. That night was awful. All I can say to you is that we are trying to improve our team. We have some deficiencies. Larry Brown was coach of that team for a lot longer than half a season. I assure you we are assessing all aspects.
My name is Mike and I've been a loyal Warrior fan for upwards of 30 years. I just wanted to say congratulations on your purchase and I have the utmost confidence in you and hope you can turn things around sooner rather than later.
My main concern is the rebounding. We lost on Jan. 28 when we had a 16 point lead because we couldn't secure crucial rebounds in crunch time. This has happened numerous times this season. The games vs the Lakers, Bobcats and Clippers jump into my mind when I first think of this, there are several more games in which this happened too, I just can't think of them right now. This has been a problem for several years now and I am getting tired of losing the same way, game after game after game. What is the point of winning four games in a row if the team follows that up with four losses in a row, like what has happened now? That doesn't help us.
I really hope you are looking into getting this team more formidable up front, and soon. Preferably before the trade deadline. I am getting to the point now where I can't bear to watch games anymore because I know exactly what is going to happen. This team being that predictable is a glaring weakness and every other team in the league is taking advantage of this. We should never lose to the Bobcats on our home floor.
Why doesn't Smart sacrifice offensive production in order to have a better chance at securing rebounds? I get tired of seeing him only playing one big guy and one pseudo big guy during the most crucial of times during games, when we need defensive rebounds more than offensive buckets. When we had that 16-point lead, he should have played Biedrins, Lee, Udoh and Ellis/Curry, Ellis/Wright, Curry/Wright in order to have the best chance of grabbing those vital rebounds while maintaining some offensive production. Trying to outscore teams doesn't work when you need rebounds. That mentality scares me more than anything, because that is the same thinking that plagued Nelson's mind while he was here. This needs to change and I hope that my message gets to Smart in one way or another.
Thanks, Mike, for the e-mail. I completely agree with you. We need to become a better rebounding team, no question. With the addition of David Lee and a healthy Andris Biedrins, I think we have improved upon last season, when this team was one of the worst rebounding teams in the history of the league. But, we clearly still need to get better in this category. We MUST get better. In my mind, all good teams control the glass and stop their opponents on the opposite end of the floor. This is an issue that we will continue to address and upgrade as we move forward. I think defense and rebounding wins games and championships.
I do believe that Ekpe Udoh, who has played very well in spurts since returning from injury, will help both our rebounding and defense as we progress later into the season and he becomes more comfortable. He's strong in that regard, especially defensively.
Joe and Peter,
First off, congratulations, and thank you for everything you have done in reviving the interest level and passion around the Warriors. Your open approach and honest excitement in taking over the team are incredibly refreshing.
I moved to the Bay Area 19 years ago, transplanting my basketball loyalty from the Bulls to the Warriors. Over the course of the past eight or so years, my passion for them has increased dramatically, although I can't attribute that to any specific moment, milestone, etc...... Seeing the team struggle has been heartbreaking. The glimmer of success we had under Nellie was clearly a piece of Fool's Gold, I called it that at the time, and that was proven. I won't dwell on it here other than to say that the short-term thinking that accompanied it led to a lot of bad long-term decision-making. The current level on this team is reflective of that, as we've had to make talent-draining moves purely to relieve ourselves of bad situations and contracts (Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Jamal Crawford, and Corey Maggette's departures all were talent drains that had to be done).
I realize you're in a difficult situation - the fans are clamoring for a winner now. Excitement is high around the ownership change. People want action. I'm very active on the Warriors' ESPN message board, where there are some very intelligent posters (along with the normal range of simplistic thinkers). The more intelligent, respected members (who I believe represent the majority of the fan base) recognize that slow, thoughtful action based on a vision is better than impulsive actions to create change.
To me, the key point that the organization needs to focus on is the long-term plan. The teams that have been successful for years (such as the Spurs, Jazz, Lakers, Rockets in the West) have had a common thread - stability. Generally the coaches knew they were going to be there for the long-term, the players felt comfortable, roles were clearly defined through the organization, and the teams have thrived as a result. The recognition exists in each place that "sacrificing for today" may mean improvement for tomorrow. Not coincidentally, all of those teams have had a history of deep benches and quality defenses.
It's obvious that the structure of the team, and potentially the organization, is flawed. Our two best players are 6'3" or less. Our big off-season acquisition is a fantastic offensive player, but like Monta and Stephen, he struggles defensively. The bench is an enigma. Our starting center has been invisible for most of the year, and appears to have lost his passion. We have no semblance of a post game. The coach is new in the lead role, and clearly struggling with the team, as evidenced by his comments after the New Orleans game. With this base, everybody wants change.
The interesting thing is, despite all these "problems", this team competes. Its record isn't good, but people here compare it to recent teams and don't feel as bad about 19-27. There are whispers of the playoffs. We appear to be tantalizingly close in a conference that has seen some declines. But again, I believe this is Fool's Gold. We structurally can not compete with the NBA's elite with this team and style of play.
The most important moves I believe we can make in the next six months are to improve the foundation of the team, and to establish stability. Keith Smart's contract effectively could be over after this season. Obviously the most important thing he can try to do, for his personal benefit, is to try to win every game. Faced with playing Monta Ellis 45 minutes, or putting in a less talented bench player, he's erring in the favor of "sticking with the talent". He's trying to win today's game, not willing to bet on the fact that if he gets the lesser player more experience, that bench guy might help him win a game a month from now. Player development inherently isn't on a coach's priority list when he could be gone after the season. But fundamentally, player development is what this team needs. We need to get more out of guys like Udoh, Brandan Wright, Jeremy Lin and Reggie Williams.
We're not going to make the playoffs this year. We need to accept that fact. We need to be thinking more about "what will make us better next year, the year after, and the year after that." To me, that means developing the talent on this team, not just the top 3-4 players. I'll be hard-pressed to believe that the Spurs' bench is remarkably more talented than the Warriors'. But they certainly are better managed and developed. Popovic knows he's going to be there next year (if he wants to be); I presume that Smart doesn't.
To be clear, I am not making a statement that the Warriors should extend or guarantee Smart's contract. Rather, I think we need to change his, and as much as we can, the fans' perception of "what defines success for the team (and Smart) this year". To me, and I think to much of the fan base, success isn't defined as winning 40 games and making it to the playoffs, where we'll get killed in a first-round series. To me, success means setting a balanced foundation, with 6-8 core players that will be the leaders of the team, and knowing what each one will provide. And by "balanced foundation", that also means having a team that is balanced between offense and defense. We don't have that.
My recommendation to you as owners is to try to find a way to re-position the definition of success this year to Smart, and to the media. Patience and "building blocks" are the key. Sit Smart down, and clarify that he won't be retained based on his won/loss record, but rather he will be retained based on his utilization and development of players and a balanced team for the future. Specifically:
Udoh, Lin, and Brandan Wright need to be given meaningful game time, and be allowed to fail. Failure leads to success in this league. Very importantly, the first two players listed (Udoh and Lin) have a defensive orientation, which is desperately needed on this team.
No players should be immune from being benched because of their failure to execute. When Monta and Dorell Wright repeatedly sag off their man and leave them wide open for jumpers, or swipe at the ball rather than play solid defense, they need to find themselves on the bench. When David Lee doesn't box out or hold his ground solidly enough in the post, he'll be sitting next to them.
Player rotations need to be consistent so that each player can focus his practice time. A guy who knows that he's going to come in and play 15 minutes a night at PF or SG, generally with a certain set of other players around him, will know if he needs to be more aggressive or conservative. Players' mind-set is key. Smart has been doing this to an extent with Acie Law lately, and Vlad Radmanovic. The problem is, neither of those are guys who I would expect to be around beyond this year, so there is limited benefit. It needs to be done more with our younger bench players who might be part of our core in the future.
This year, I'd be satisfied with winning 30 games, if at the end of the year I knew what I had with all of Udoh, Brandan Wright, Lin, and Williams. I'd take that as opposed to winning 35 games and not knowing whether those players were any good. Until we know what we already have on our roster, how can we truly understand who to trade, and for what?
I realize that not much response is necessary to this note - it's primarily a fan's plea for some change in the approach and priorities for this year. If you've made it this far, I applaud you for reading this.
On a personal note, I would be honored to have an opportunity to talk to either or both of you at some point in time. As you can probably tell, this team is a passion of mine, and I would love having the opportunity to find a place in the organization somehow. I have absolutely no basketball credentials to speak of, but I am a smart cookie. Like Joe's son, I graduated from Stanford's GSB, albeit in my case it was in the mid-90's. Since then, I've had a successful career in high-tech, and am currently working for Apple, leading our operations area in a key commodity technology. If nothing else, I'd be fascinated by having the opportunity to hear about your experiences and forward-looking plans. Peter, I love your tweets, and I hope you can convince your partner to join that parade.
Thanks for your time - and also for the excitement you've brought to the team with your approach and honesty.
Thanks, Chuck, for the e-mail. I really admire your passion and I appreciate the thoughtfulness that went into your note. You have some excellent points and clearly have a good understanding of some of the obstacles that we face as we move forward.
As you noted, we do have a lot of questions to be answered in the next couple of months. What players are we moving forward with? How would some of these players benefit if we brought in additional pieces around them? As I've stated several times, I would like to supplement our current roster and build a better team around some of our pieces that already exist. I am not currently in a mode to turn this roster upside down, but we are looking to be aggressive and improve our team with smart decisions.
I can assure you, however, that any moves that we make will be done to help this team not only now, but in the future. We are not going to sacrifice the next several years to win five more games this season. That is not part of my philosophy.
I can assure you that Larry Riley is leaving no stone unturned. It is our responsibility to give the coaches the pieces they need to be successful via trades, the draft or free agency. We continue to work toward that goal each day.
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