Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cutting through 30 years of Golden State Warriors scar tissue

By Justin Taylor

It’s official; Joe Lacob and Bob Myers are the most creative Warriors executives since Franklin Mieuli! After turning the rotting corpses of Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and a couple of late first round picks into Andre Igoudala this week I’m already preparing his Hall of Fame induction campaign (as promised). All I need from him at this point for me to go full speed ahead is to send me some headshots of him wearing a deerstalkercap.

(I’ll improvise in order to move forward)

Lacob should be wearing the Deerstalker crown but Myers is the one making his vision a reality
The Warriors didn’t get nearly the credit they deserved nationally for pulling off the ultimate salary dump and snagging the number two free agent on the market over the course of a couple hours. In the days that followed, Myers and the Golden State front office followed that coup by signing Marrese Speights, Toney Douglas and Jermaine Oneal to replace Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry for pennies on the dollar. Getting no respect from ESPN is nothing new for us Warriors fans but watching NBA players take pay cuts to come play in Oakland is uncharted territory.

Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic about each and every one of the events mentioned above but that isn’t what made this the greatest offseason since the Warriors won the championship back in 1975. As great as it is to be acquiring good players and nailing draft picks with regularity that is only half the story. The real victory for me is the realization that none of this is a fluke and that this front office isn’t going to screw this up.

After two years of Bob Myers batting 1000% my fears of disaster constantly looming around the corner have completely melted away. The days of having an owner so cheap that marketing strategies trumped winning are over and the decades of having GM after GM routinely outsmarted by agents are gone. At the end of the day, all it took was to see Andre Igoudala turn down multiple offers for significantly more money for the opportunity to become a Golden State Warrior.

For the 20 years preceding 2010 the Warriors brass was driven by ticket sales, fear and panic. If this were 2009 and the fans were clamoring to resign Jack, Landry or both the front office may have decided to let them both go in favor of giving that money to Corey Maggette. If this were 2006 they’d probably cave to the irrational demands of the ticket holders, overpaying each of them as if they were Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy or Adonal Foyle. In 2013? Bob Myers lets them walk and goes out and gets three younger players for less than half the cost.

Speights, Douglas & Oneal will cost less than Jack & Landry this season. Only Speights is on the books past 2013-14
The word panic is no longer in the vocabulary of the management group in Oakland. Everything they do seems to be meticulously planned and methodically executed. If things go off course there is a contingency plan prepared for the occasion. The last three weeks provided two perfect examples of this.

Everybody and their mother knew that the Warriors had their sights set on Dwight Howard. Plan A was to dump enough salary to sign him outright. Plan B was to see if a sign and trade could be worked out with the Lakers. All of the sudden Plan C came out of left field when it looked like Howard was heading to Houston. Minutes later the trigger is pulled and the Warriors have their first Olympic team member since Chris Mullin.

Looking back, all of those things were actually plans B-D because nobody can convince me that the master plan all along wasn’t to have BOTH of the top free agents playing at Oracle next season. The company line might be that Andre was their target all along and that may be true but this ownership group has wanted to bring in a superstar from day one.

I fully believe that Lacob and Myers wanted to see Howard playing alongside Curry, Klay, Igoudala and Barnes
We’ve all wondered what it would be like if one of the top stars in the league signed on the dotted line with Golden State. Now we have an ownership group that fully expects that to happen and will continue forcing their way into the conversation every time one comes on the market. With the signing of Igoudala, along with the consideration given by Howard, it’s yet another sign that players and front offices around the league are recognizing the Warriors as a first class organization instead of a perennial laughingstock.

You couldn’t blame other teams or fans for looking at the Warriors as little more than a punch line when they had to overpay a guy like Derek Fisher by millions of dollars because they need “veteran leadership” on the roster. It is abundantly clear that the tide has officially turned when the second most coveted free agent in this class and a member of Team USA agrees to take a lesser offer to join the party.

When the Charlotte Bobcats gave Al Jefferson $41 million dollars for three years last week I laughed my ass off. Deep down I was really thanking my lucky stars that we were no longer the ones that had to pay franchise player type money for a guy who would never even make an All Star team.

This is a picture of a terrible franchise. Warriors fans know this image all too well.
Now we can take pity on fans of teams like that because we know if it can get worse it will and it is a vicious cycle that can only be reversed by a competent front office. Even hitting the lottery and getting a surefire superstar won’t do that for you; just ask a Cleveland Cavaliers fan.

Perception is reality and the reality is that the Warriors management group is smarter than a majority of the competition as well as the fans that live to second guess every decision or non decision. That is no long the case for me. I’m retiring my Monday Morning Executive title (until given a good reason, any reason, to come out of retirement). Why should I bother playing with the trade machine looking for blockbuster deals when the guys in charge are thinking bigger than my tortured mind is capable of?

Had these guys been running the team back in 1994 we would have seen Chris Webber play his prime years here instead of just his first and last games in the league. NBA players will always come and go but having leadership that knows how to organize, scout, recruit, negotiate and spend is the one thing you can count on to keep you relevant.

For the first time in my life the road map to a championship is coming into focus. What’s even more exciting than that is I no longer fear that the people steering the ship will head straight for the first iceberg that pops up on our radar. There was a time when I saw black ice on every road ahead. Now I see multiple routes to the promised land and I’d be willing to bet that Joe Lacob, Bob Myers and Jerry West many more than I do.