Joe Lacob Tanked This Season: Thoughts on the Trade Deadline

That giant thud you just heard was the corpse of this Warriors season hitting the ground. A victim of homicide, stabbed in the heart by the inventive GMs of the Western Conference.

And stabbed in the back by Joe Lacob.

Unless you are a Warriors fan, the NBA trade deadline didn’t disappoint. A lot of fascinating deals went down. Jump for my complete analysis, including playoff predictions, fantasy basketball ramifications, and for you fellow degenerates out there, betting opportunities.                                     

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Let’s start with the Western Conference, where events have unfortunately all but destroyed the Warriors’ playoff chances.  And if we’re starting with the West, we have to start with the Melo trade.

Nuggets: Has a team that has been put under the gun by a player ever made a better deal for themselves?  Far from blowing themselves up, which is what would have happened if they’d taken New Jersey’s offer of Derrick Favors and multiple draft picks, it is quite possible that Denver actually became a better team in ridding themselves of Melo.  You think that’s a ludicrous opinion? Well, I share it with Phil Jackson.

Here’s what you’re going to see in Denver:  NELLIEBALL.  George Karl is an expert and fervent practitioner of the art, who only reluctantly gave it up when faced with the reality of Chauncey Billups at point guard, and the mid-post, ball-pounding game of Melo.  That’s over now.  The Denver Nuggets are going to run, and they are going to pass.  Here’s George Karl on the subject of playing Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton in the same backcourt:

“We’ve got to have more passing in our game than shooting,” Karl said. “And now, if I have to play two point guards who can each get nine assists each night, I think that’s enough passing.”

Do you hear the GOOD RIDDANCE! to Carmelo Anthony in that statement? And do you think the great George Karl fears playing two point guards at the same time?  You think the Warriors have a small backcourt? Well try 6-1″ and 5-11″ on for size.

Of course, Karl also has the players who can protect that backcourt.  Starting with Nene in the middle.  And the great defending small-ball power forwards Kenyon Martin and Wilson Chandler.  And he has what Joe Lacob failed to deliver to the Warriors: two long shooting guards who can spread the floor and defend.  Well, that describes Aaron Afflalo.  We have yet to see what JR Smith can do on defense, when motivated by starting minutes.

Karl also announced that Danilo Gallinari will likely get the starting SF position over Chandler:

“My gut right now is Gallo because he passes the ball,” Karl said. “He has a feel for the game. He has a sense for the game.”

The great George Karl opting for actual basketball skill over defense?  There is an important lesson there for Warriors management.

The Denver Nuggets are going to be one of the fastest teams end-to-end in the NBA going forward.  Faster even than the Warriors, because unlike Keith Smart, George Karl knows how to push the tempo, and is unafraid to do it.  They’re going to be one of the best passing, best shooting teams in the NBA.  They’re going to have a small lineup on the floor at ALL times.

And they are going to win.  Scratch one potential playoff spot for the Warriors. The Nuggets are a lock.

(Is my opinion playable? Well, the reaction to the Nuggets side of the trade has been surprisingly positive. I prefer to look for plays where the hype is dead wrong. Such as the hype on the Stephen Jackson trade last year.)

Portland: Shockingly, Portland also didn’t blow up their team, as had been rumored.  Instead, they went out and got unequivocally better.  In a classic ripoff of a poor team by a rich team, the Blazers picked up Gerald Wallace for a couple of meatballs — Joel Pryzbilla and Dante Cunningham — and a couple of first round draft picks.

Take a look at Portland’s small line-up now:  Aldridge at 5, Wallace at 4, Mathews, Batum or possibly Roy on the wings, Miller or Fernandez at point. Can you think of a better?

I’m actually a little bit shocked that Portland created a Nellieball lineup. Will Nate McMillan know what to do with it?  Are the Blazers going to start running?

If Marcus Camby makes it back all the way from his knee surgery, no one will want to meet this team in the playoffs.  Scratch another spot.

Thunder: OKC got worse at the trading deadline.  What, you say?  How could they get worse by picking up Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson from the Celtics for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, and Nazr Mohammed from Charlotte for a couple of meatballs?  Don’t they have Serge Ibaka to plug in at power forward? (Fantasy players, get Ibaka NOW if he’s still on your waiver wire. I traded Diaw and Roy for him a month ago, anticipating just this eventuality.)

Here’s how the Thunder got worse:  Obviously, this trade will help the Thunder’s defense in the paint.  But the cost to their offense will be unfathomable.  Unlike Krstic, both Perkins and Mohammed are non-shooters.  And although Ibaka has a decent mid-range shot, he can’t spread the floor like Jeff Green.  I predict that this will prove disastrous for a team that already can’t shoot.  Westbrook can’t shoot.  Sefolosha can’t shoot.  Harden can’t shoot, except on holidays and alternating Tuesdays.

Not to mention that what had been a terrific Nellieball lineup just lost their small lineup completely.  Can it be a good thing to slow down the running of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant?

It just got far easier to guard the Thunder. Pack the paint. Deny Westbrook penetration. Double team Durant on every touch.

And another thing: Perkins is a 6-10″ defensive center who relies on his legs for his prowess.  But as those who watched the last Warriors game know, Perkins is coming off an ACL tear, and his game is nowhere near close to what it was. Will he ever again reach that level?  Not this year, certainly.

Unfortunately, the Thunder have a dominating 10 game lead on the Warriors. It is highly doubtful that they slip out of the playoff picture. But if I were a betting man, I would bet them to lose to the spread every game for the next couple of weeks, until the bookies adjust.

Hornets: Made a great move in picking up Carl Landry for Marcus Thornton. Consider this small ball lineup: West at 5, Landry at 4, Ariza, Green and Paul.

Mark Cuban threw a fit that the NBA, which now owns the Hornets, would spend it’s own money and take on additional salary to make this deal happen.  Cuban is full of crap.  When the Hornets make the playoffs, they will more than make up for that money.

What Cuban is so upset about is that the NBA strengthened a division rival. The Hornets, who were faltering lately, now look like a favorite to make the playoffs again.

Phoenix: I already made Phoenix a lock for the playoffs a couple of weeks ago, after getting a look at their new lineup in action.  They are even more of a lock now, after swapping mediocre back-up point guard Goran Dragic for the electrifying Aaron Brooks of Houston.  Wow, what a great deal.

Throw out the pencil.  You can write Phoenix into the playoffs in ink.  And by my count, that’s all the spots there are.

Grizzlies: I wrote off Memphis’ playoff chances a week ago due to the Rudy Gay injury, and their brutal March schedule.  But their deal today, picking up Shane Battier for Hasheem Thabeet and a first round draft pick, shows that they have not given up as a franchise, the way Joe Lacob gave up on the Warriors. They are going to compete.

I don’t like their chances, but their improvement makes it even tougher for the Warriors, who play Memphis twice going forward I believe.

Houston: Oh. my. god. Hasheem Thabeet, seriously?  The Rockets traded away Shane Battier and Aaron Brooks for a backup point guard and a bowlful of bust.

Can we stop the nonsense now about Daryl Morey as a moneyball genius? The Rockets are dead.

Utah: Blew themselves up, quite obviously.  And I think it is highly likely that they will never again reach the playoffs, given their market.  Unless they manage to pick up the next Tim Duncan in some future draft.

Deron Williams for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and a bucket of draft picks. Ughh.  It probably had to be done, but still, ughh. Devin Harris is a ridiculous fit on a team with Al Jefferson.  Harris is a suspect shooter, and miserable when feeding the post.  He needs to run.

Clippers:  I wrote at the time that the Clippers stole Baron Davis from the Warriors with that giant contract that the Clippers had just committed franchise suicide.  Well, it turns out I was wrong.  The Clippers were just shocked gasping back into life, with Dan Gilbert administering the paddles. All it wound up costing them were three lost seasons, and a lottery pick.  And oh yes, a milder form of cancer, commonly known as Mo Williams.

But if the Clips are smart enough to make Eric Bledsoe the starting point guard, and bring Williams off the bench as a sixth man, this is a team back on the rise.

Until the next suicide attempt.

(And yes, I snatched Bledsoe off the waiver wire in my fantasy league when the news hit at midnight. Dropping Gilbert Arenas.)

Kings: Picked up Marcus Thornton for Carl Landry.  Let me get this straight, the Kings essentially traded Kevin Martin for Thornton, right?  There you have it, one more way that Tyreke Evans has destroyed this franchise.

By the way, this trade has major fantasy implications: Samuel Dalembert.

The Warriors: I’ve made you wait, and I’m going to make you wait some more. The kettle has not fully come to a boil. Yet.

First, I’m going to talk Eastern Conference.  If you’re anxious to read about how Joe Lacob intentionally tanked this Warriors season, then feel free to skip ahead.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Knicks: The consensus is that you do anything, trade anything, to acquire a superstar in the NBA.  I’m not so sure. I’ve already given my analysis of Carmelo Anthony as a player in my Don’t Trade Curry piece.  He’s a black hole.  Which means the Knicks now have two of them. Let’s see how that works in D’Antoni’s system.

Three other points:

1) Carmelo is a mid-range player who doesn’t spread the floor. If Amare doesn’t want to play center, which he doesn’t, D’Antoni is going to have a real hard time spreading the floor. He needs a three point shooting, running center. Know any?

2) Speaking of running, the Knicks just got a whole lot slower, with Billups at the point, and Melo pounding the ball on the wings.  How is that going to work for D’Antoni?

3) As the Knicks got slower, their defense got worse. Stoudemire’s defensive deficiencies will be accentuated in a half-court game.

This Knicks team will be decent, and probably quite good eventually.  But I have serious doubts that they can ever click the way D’Antoni will want them to, let alone approach the championship level that they expect.

The hype around this team is enormous right now. If I were a betting man, I would seriously consider betting against this hype. Starting now. Ending when the bookies adjust.

Nets: Brilliant winners of this trading deadline. First, their competition caused the Knicks to screw the pooch.  And second, they picked up Deron Williams for nothing. When a genuine superstar is available, there is no amount of draft picks that should not be spent to get him. Particularly devalued draft picks, that are going to drop in value with every passing year as your team gets better.

Don Nelson, who traded a 7th pick for Steve Nash, and three number ones for Chris Webber, knew this principle like the back of his hand.

Joe Lacob doesn’t.

Celtics: I heard an ESPN analyst killing the Celtics for trading away their “starting” center.  Huh?

First, you need to understand that Kendrick Perkins is no longer Kendrick Perkins.

Second, you need to understand that Nenad Krstic of the Celtics is not Nenad Krstic of the Thunder.  The guy on the Thunder was a poor schlub who played with a selfish and visionless point guard who froze him out mercilessly.

The guy on the Celtics is a good shooter who is playing with Rajon Rondo.

The Celtics didn’t give up much in this trade, assuming they can still plug Shaq back in come playoff time.  But oh, what they added.  They added shooting. They added the ability to spread the floor.  And they added the ability to run.

They added NELLIEBALL.

Take a look at this small-ball lineup: Garnett at 5, Green at 4, Pierce, Allen, Rondo.  Do you think that lineup can get something done?

The Celtics are also likely to add Troy Murphy after the Warriors buy him out. More size. More shooting. More spreading the floor.

And the Celtics dumped Semih Erden and Luke Harongody on the Cavs for a second round pick.  That’s what those two guys are worth, the same two guys whom Keith Smart allowed to beat the Warriors in the last game, by his timid failure to exploit them ruthlessly with a small lineup.

There is a major lesson for Joe Lacob in the Celtics’ moves.  It involves getting non-shooters off your team. Will he absorb it?

Hawks: Just got a whole lot better, picking up Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong for Bibby, Jordan Crawford and a pick.

I had been writing off the Hawks in the East, but they might have an outside chance to pull off an upset now.

(I would tell fantasy owners to go grab Hinrich, but I already told them that, in the preseason.)

Cavs: What could Dan Gilbert be thinking? Yes, he picked up a lottery pick. But at what cost to his team’s morale? And for how many years?

Boom Fizzle imprisoned in Cleveland? Sharing a cell with Byron Scott? As an Ohio boy, who once spent a miserable summer interned at a Cleveland law firm, I can tell you that this is not going to work. This is going to get real ugly, and real fat, real fast.

Insane. Let me tell you, I hated the way The Decision went down, but LeBron James was correct to get as far away from Cleveland as he possibly could. Dan Gilbert is hands-down the worst GM/owner in the NBA. After Mark Cuban.

And now, while we’re on the topic of bad GMs, let’s talk about the guy who tanked the Warriors season.

YOUR GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

This is what Warriors GM Joe Lacob got accomplished at the trading deadline: Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric for Troy Murphy’s dying contract and a second round pick.  According to rumor, the Warriors are going to recall Jeff Adrien from the D-league to replace these players.

I don’t have a problem with dumping Brandan Wright. He’s not an NBA player. I find it exceedingly humorous that he’s going to play for Avery Johnson, who shrieks like a banshee when his big men don’t rebound and defend.  Can’t wait to see how that turns out.

I don’t have a  problem with dumping Dan Gadzuric. He’s close to finished, and competely superfluous now, at least until Biedrins goes down with his next injury.

I don’t have any problem at all with picking up Adrien. He not only rebounds and defends, but can shoot the 20 footer as well as a nice jump-hook. And he is not afraid to get to the free throw line, because he makes them.  If Jeff Adrien means that Lou Amundsen never sets foot on the court again, I will throw the Thaiblonde a party.

And I only have a slight problem with Joe Lacob’s stated desire to start accumulating draft picks and “build cheaply.” It’s a completely ass-backwards strategy for a team that is already on the rise, as I mentioned. And it — as well as Lacob’s failure to get a player in return for the Warriors’ expiring contracts — gives the lie to Lacob’s oft-repeated promise to spend whatever it takes to make the Warriors better. But whatever.

What I have a big, burning problem with is that the Warriors are currently competing for a playoff spot, and they have a glaring hole in their roster — which Lacob himself has admitted to recognizing  — that the Warriors management failed to take care of at the trade deadline. They need a big guard who can both defend and shoot threes to protect the Curry/Ellis backcourt.

And you can’t tell me that none were available, as Lacob’s mouthpiece Larry Riley has been intimating in the press.  Just to mention one name, it was widely rumored that Raja Bell was being shopped by the detonating Jazz.  Would he have helped the Warriors this season?  Do you mean to tell me that he wasn’t available for Brandan Wright and expiring contracts?  Baloney.

Outside of Reggie Williams, whose best position is SF, the Warriors guards behind Curry and Ellis are a joke.  Lin, Law, Bell.  No length, not a shooter among them.  That this bench was assembled, and then allowed to last a full season by Joe Lacob is a travesty.

It is a betrayal of the great core of this Warriors team, that has put it on the line this season fighting for the 8 seed.  And it’s a betrayal of Warriors fans.

I have had a growing suspicion about Joe Lacob this season,  that began back at the time Don Nelson was fired, Keith Smart was hired, and Jeremy Lin was signed. It was a depressing suspicion, that I kept to myself while this season played out. I hoped I would be proven wrong.

Unfortunately, I haven’t. And the disappointment of this trading deadline has me ready to give voice to my suspicion. At this point, I don’t see any other conclusion that can reasonably be reached.

I believe that Joe Lacob intentionally tanked this season. I don’t believe he wanted the Warriors to make the playoffs. Not this season.

And he took action to make sure they wouldn’t. It began with the firing of Don Nelson. Because if Don Nelson had been allowed to coach this team into the playoffs this season, Joe Lacob would never have gotten the credit he so deeply craves for turning this franchise around. He wouldn’t have gotten it this season, and he wouldn’t get it in future seasons. The Warriors would have already been a playoff team when he took them over.  The playoff team that Don Nelson assembled.

It continued with the signing of Jeremy Lin, rather than an experienced veteran who could have filled a huge void on the Warriors’ bench.

And then there was Keith Smart.  Putting a rookie coach on the bench looked like the only move open to Lacob at the time, particularly if you buy his unexplained narrative that Nellie was “the wrong guy to coach this team.”  But putting Smart on the bench was also a nicely convenient move if Lacob wanted to remake the franchise in his own image, as he has so frequently insinuated. One year of a caretaker coach, and then fully erase “the sins of the past” by hiring a big name coach that Lacob could take credit for.

What happens to this plan if the Warriors make the playoffs?  It wouldn’t be quite so easy to get rid of Keith Smart if that happened, would it?

And now this, several long months and the passing of the trading deadline with not one bit of help for the Warriors’ laughable bench. With the Warriors a mere 3 games in the loss column out of the 8 seed, they desperately needed Joe Lacob to have their back.  To do something to give them a boost, tilt the game in their favor, the way Giants management did for the Giants in their championship season. But what did the Warriors get? Bupkus. A stinging slap in the face.

Congratulations, Joe Lacob. NBA laughingstock Michael Heisley did more for his team than you did.  The NBA did more for the team that they hold in receivership than you did. You, Joe, knifed your players and your fans in the back.

Hey, but the Warriors got a second round draft pick!  Which brings me to the final reason I believe Joe Lacob tanked this season.  We all know that Joe Lacob covets draft picks. He’s said so, publicly and repeatedly. But why, with a team that already possesses a playoff core? I think we can surmise the reason. It’s because those picks will be his to play with.  His to erase the sins of the past with. His to put his name to. His to take credit for.

The Warriors have a first round pick in 2011.  Joe Lacob wants it to be a lottery pick.

It wasn’t the “sins of the past” that prevented the Warriors from making a playoff run this season.  It was the sins of the present.

What’s left for faithful Warriors fans is to hope for a finish straight out of the movies. To be specific, straight out of Major League.

52 Responses to Joe Lacob Tanked This Season: Thoughts on the Trade Deadline

  1. George Karl to his Denver team during the Celtics game: “We’re playing at their pace. I want you to play CRAZY FAST!

    Can you imagine those words coming out of Keith Smart’s mouth?

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  3. I like your analysis. I really think Boston made out like bandits. I noticed the other night as well that Perkins was having a hard time getting off the floor. He clearly isn’t the same player as last year. To be able to get Green is being way undervalued by most pundits. Plus Kristic can rebound and stretch the floor. If they get Murphy and Robinson back then they will be in even better shape than before the trade. It’s amazing to me that Ainge continues to keep the Celtics relevant while at the same time making them younger and prepared for the day the big three are no more. Best GM in the league. Houston is the exact reason you don’t let stat gurus run your team. What Memphis did great in off loading Thabeet for Batier, they almost blew by giving away Mayo for nothing. They got lucky that didn’t go through.

    I don’t think I buy your theory of Lacob throwing the season away. I think he really wants to win and don’t think his previous decisions were to ensure that he would be set up to take the credit when things turn around. I think Lacob is still learning on the job and he doesn’t have the right people around him yet. I think this deadline has shown that Riley, nice enough as he is, just isn’t crafty and cunning enough to get what he needs from other GM’s. In the food chain of GM’s, Riley is a bottom feeder. The other GM’s know it, so they view themselves as better, which makes it difficult for Larry to get the upper hand on a negotiation. Lacob can only be as good as his GM running the phones and pitching the ideas. I’ll say this much for Larry. He’s past the point of other GM’s trying to take advantage of him. However, he’s not at the point were he’s got there respect either. I think respect is needed to get things done and for other GM’s to put you on the front burner rather than the rear burner. This could all be nonsense, but’s how I see it.

  4. Feltbot, you make a powerful argument Lacob’s weak personnel decisions were intended to sacrifice a possible playoff position to get a lottery pick. I just yesterday bet a $20 to a $1 win that they would miss the playoffs. (Not bold, but the principal is what counts!) I actually don’t mind as much as you. I know it’s a loser way to think, but I just love the draft. Maybe Lacob feels the same. Sitting at 23 is so ‘nothing’ compared to top 5.

    Love your analysis of the trades, by the way. (Added Bledsoe to my team.)

  5. Denver blew out the Celtics with a great run in the fourth quarter. Literally ran them off the floor, under the great leadership of George Karl. Were Keith Smart and Joe Lacob watching?

    I’m predicting, right now, that the Nuggets finish higher in the West than the Thunder. Starting from 4 games back.

  6. It is a shame that the Warriors got nothing at the deadline. I agree that this could have been a playoff team with one or two pieces.

    The one thing I think you missed was that Riley did test the market with certain players…Beidrins, B-Wright, EGadz and maybe even Vlad. However, those players have almost no value (that’s why we ended up with Murph’s expiring and a pick). We simply do not have much value on the roster outside the top 6 players. Yes, this was a mistake made in the off season, and can be pinned on Riley. However, the lack of a big move also points to the fact that the front office wants to keep Curry and Ellis together — Curry would have been moved at the deadline if this wasn’t the case. I agree with J-Walk above – Riley simply doesn’t have the savvy or respect to pull of a strong deal like Ainge does, and has.

    I may have missed the post when you talked about Lin, but let’s be frank here: The only reason Lin is on the roster is to sell jersey’s to the Asian population in the Bay Area. I was there in the pre-season when Lin would enter a game. Oracle turned into Roaracle all over again and Lacob noticed the PR goldmine. Lin clearly does not help the team win games, but he sells jerseys. On the surface its a savvy business move, just not as savvy as making the playoffs.

  7. Feltbot, I’m not sure you’ll respond to a constructive comment, but here goes. While I don’t agree with everything Lacob does either, I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time, and I don’t recall you once raking Cohan over the coals in the same fashion you do Lacob. Why is that?

    On a micro level, sure, the Warriors could be doing better this year (although you seem to discount any improvement they have displayed), but isn’t the broader picture that you continually ignore the fact that the last owner was abysmal, let every halfway decent player go, made the playoffs once in 16 seasons, etc…, yet pile on Lacob after one relatively inactive trade deadline?

    I know you loved Nellie, and I agree he would have coached the W’s to a better record this year, but if the goal is truly to build towards the future, employing a coach you KNOW will only be in town for one more season doesn’t make much sense.

    I guess I’m just trying to understand why all the venom for a new regime that at the bare minimum seems a marginal improvement over the travesty that was Chris Cohan?

  8. Jimmer, Cohan’s great crime — except for that disastrous moment when Rowell went crazy — was one of complete disengagement. That never got me nearly as hot and bothered as terrible basketball decisions. Before Nellie’s second era, those terrible decisions were made by Cohan’s basketball people, not by him. And during the Nellie years (post-Mullin), all personnel decisions were in Nellie’s control. Cohan never meddled, never interfered. And if Nellie and Riley can be believed, Cohan allowed them to spend whatever they wanted to up to the cap. He allowed them, just as a for instance, to pay David Lee $80 million.

    Joe Lacob, by great contrast, has made himself the GM of the Warriors. And I am going to hold him accountable as such.

    What has happened this year is DEMONSTRABLY WORSE than what would have happened if Cohan were still the owner. Because Don Nelson would have given this team a full and able roster, and had them pointed at the playoffs.

    I think that bears pointing out. And I think the motives I believe are behind Lacob’s actions also bear pointing out.

  9. More fantasy implications: Gerald Henderson of Charlotte will be getting 30-35 minutes a game. Toney Douglas for the Knicks will be getting big minutes. Both have been very productive lately.

  10. Do you realize that there is more than one way to win basketball games? I agree with you that the Nuggets will be fine without Melo because they got some pretty good talent in return and can play at a faster pace, which suits most of their remaining players better, but saying that the Thunder got worse is crazy. They got the best play in that deal in Perkins, a beast of a big man who defends the paint, scores in the post, and grabs boards. Jeff Green adds practically nothing. He’s an average shooter, alright passer, meh rebounder, alright defender, ok athlete… He does nothing especially well, and just takes up an extra spot on the floor. He’s not a good enough shooter to be a stretch 4, not strong enough to play the post, and not quick enough to play the 3. By adding Perkins, and Mohammed, they can now go big against the Spurs and Lakers, and can still got small with a lineup of Westbrook-Maynor (who can shoot)-Harden (who, contrary to what you seem to believe, can shoot)-Durant (who can score in any way he wants)- Ibaka. I think the Thunder got a LOT better during this deadline.

    I agree with you about the Warriors, though. This deadline was a chance to make this team a contender for the playoffs, but instead they stood pat.

  11. Oh, also, the only way the Nets come out as winners is if they can get Williams to sign an extension, otherwise they gave up players and picks for nothing. I agree with Hollinger’s assessment that they either get an A or an F depending on what happens next, and there really isn’t any middle ground.

  12. It’s not just that the FO bailed out on whatever chances they might have had to reach the playoffs. Much worse, in my book, is that they will leave a handful of talented players without any support, who will have to keep on playing extra minutes and face difficult wins and tough losses, if not blowouts, yet still somehow find a way to end the season standing straight and holding their heads up high. As for injuries, let’s hold our breath.

    This is abuse.

    Several have said or implied this, including Riley and Lacob themselves, that the Warriors held off this trading deadline because no one was available now and they wanted to free up bucks to try the free agent market this summer for that big player. So we may be getting ready for what might be Lacob’s greatest mistake of all, banking the future of the club on one name. And given the probable availability then and Lacob’s inclinations, it might be yet another step backward. Lacob said as much, that everyone was considered for a big trade and that they pursued Carmelo. We have to assume that if it were possible, he would have traded Curry for him. Aside from the problems there, they still would have had a miserable bench.

    In the Miami game last night, benches were ranked according to offense. Miami was last, of course, but the Warriors 29th. Take away Reggie and a few spurts from Vlad Rad, and I’m sure we hit the cellar.

    Fantasy basketball:

    Players not available–we can’t fault Lacob entirely simply because he wasn’t around for some of the decisions and I assume Riley really did have to watch the cap pending the sale, but look at the players we could have tapped from last year and put them on the squad this year, along with the six, Ellis through Reggie, and imagine what kind of team we might have had from the start, what substitutions could have been made with the injuries:

    C. J. Watson
    Anthony Tolliver
    Raja Bell
    a healthy Chris Hunter (I said this was fantasy)
    (I accept the Lee trade, so Turiaf etc. are out.)

    They wouldn’t have cost that much.

    And if the team were inclined to blow some bucks to protect the franchise and give them a chance this year, they could have kept Maggette’s muscle as well, whose value has been reduced to a Troy Murphy they’re planning to unload.

    I think Maggette is a much maligned player. I suspect he would accept any role given to him and would have willingly moved on and off the bench. He can shoot, he can run, and he can pound the paint and finish, better than anyone else on the current team. Some of my favorite highlights from last year are of Maggette plays, often on feeds from Curry. And when the team is off and play gets ugly, no one is better at ugly basketball than Maggette.

  13. Add Udoh and probably Vlad Rad to the mix. I would have taken a healthy Devean George over anyone else on the current bench after Reggie.

  14. Wide-ranging analysis that nails the player evaluations and strategies, but I have to disagree with your psycho-analysis of Joe Lacob’s mindset, Felty. Yes, he has a big ego, but I don’t think it goes so far that he would sabotage his own promises to make the Warriors a playoff team this year. That’s a little harsh, and assumes he wanted to make himself look bad now in order to look good later. I don’t think so.

    You emitted a lot of heat but not much light about exactly which player(s) the Warriors should have obtained before the trade deadline. Never mind the Raja rumors. I’d like to ask who among the players actually traded you think the Warriors should have obtained, and who should they have given up for such player(s). Let’s keep it real.

  15. As far as trades are concerned, the Warriors checkmated themselves before Lacob became the owner, and didn’t have many assets to trade as the result of the Warriors not resigning Morrow, Tolliver, and Maggette. Obtaining the expiring contract of Gadzuric and was a big mistake as expiring contracts had no value this year.

    The Warriors were also checkmated as the result of the disastrous Marcus Williams trade that resulted in the Warriors not having a solid 2010 1st round pick to trade.

    I agree that Lacob should have been able to do something to get a big guard we desparately need. Hopefully, we can find a D-leaguer who can help. Our roster openings should be filled.

    Disagree that Lacob sacked the season.

    Disagree on trading of B.Wright who could have helped this year. As a restricted free agent, we could have matched any offer or traded him for more then a second round pick in 2012.

    If Murphy is healthy, the Warriors should use him and not buy out his contract.

    Agree with 100% with regard to what other teams in the NBA did at the trading deadline. Excellent piece.

  16. Felty, nice piece. And I don’t think you are being too hard on Lacob. When Nellie was shown the door without even a sit down meeting I knew we were screwed and I said as much at the start of the season. What Nellie brought back to the Warriors was NBA legitimacy. An insider, a guy who commanded respect and knew the ins and outs of the league. He understood trends, relative weaknesses and strengths of organizations and individuals. Essentially precisely the type of individual a new, green owner would want to spend some time talking to. A smart owner would put the consultant role on him and keep the phonelines on and popping when things got a little testy.

    Instead? He made Riley fire him without ever sitting down face to face with him. Unconscionable, the same way it was unconsciounable when the Yorks showed Bill Walsh the door and in doing so decided to take Jim Drunkenmiller in the first round instead of Walsh’s choice Jake Plummer who went in the second round. It was all about being able to say this is “MY” team and Lacob has done exactly that.

    He gets all the blame for talking a big game then not backing it up, and since he didn’t hire a real GM to handle his team, HE is the face of the franchise in a way Cohan never was. Keep up the pressure on Lacob, like an open wound, maybe we can shame him into getting a real GM. As evidenced by his fear of Nellie he is an insecure individaul and we can use that against him.

    We should have gotten Gerald Wallace. Portland got him for SHIT. Then we could have had some sick small ball lineups. Pathetic.

  17. For those of you who disagree with my take on Lacob: What GMoney said!

    Seriously, I appreciate the diversity of views, and since we’re talking “poker reads” here, I can’t do anything to refute them. It’s just what I believe, and I felt it to be the right time to put it into print.

    The great Bill Simmons has outdone himself with his take on the Perkins trade. Highly recommended reading:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/110225/part2&sportCat=nba

  18. I agree with GMoney that it’s unconscionable that Lacob did not meet with Nelson before firing him. Apparently, some venture capitalists are a different breed.

    In his mind, Lacob did try to improve the team this year by trying to trade for Perkins, Robinson, and Jamison.

  19. Lacob is sharp, understands basketball well and is trying to do the right things. However, Gmoney has a good point about the need for a real GM; I agree with him. Lacob is playing a dangerous game in thinking that he and Riley have the basketball “chops” to build an NBA club by themselves. Having Riley be the top basketball guy in your organization is a real reach, and not a very bet at this point.

    I was stunned when Lacob last week went public with his very high praise of Smart and Riley. I don’t see things that way at all. Unless Smart makes a quantum leap forward the second half, he should not be re-hired. Riley should not be the GM, although he may have enough value to be retained next year if you bring in an experienced VP of BBall Ops above him.

    If things remain the same with the club and Smart and Riley are rehired next year, I will be very disappointed in Mr. Lacob. But I’m not there at this point. I still have hope.

    There is no way that Lacob is tanking this season on purpose imo.

  20. Get the nitrous oxide going if you write this one up, FB.

    There’s no reason why this team can’t score, other than the game plan, of course.

  21. after the Hawks embarrassment:
    This is how a young point guard reacts when the inexperienced coach screws with him. And it affects the entire team. I see Curry’s now consistently getting <10 shots per game. Monta running the offense more and more. Brilliant job, Mr. Smart. Nice to see players standing around on O and missing open looks at home.

    The most important player on this team going forward is Steph Curry. No. 2 is Ekpe Udoh. Two years from now (assuming Lacob wakes up and hires a real coach), those are the two players we'll be talking about. Lacob better intervene again because Keith Smart is not going to figure this out by himself and the ship is taking on water.

  22. Did the team get the message the owner’s tanking the season? They earned their paychecks today!

  23. Last year, Curry put up 31 and 32 points against Atlanta, one in a close win, the other in a close loss. Look at the lineups:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/boxscore;_ylt=AgXK1NrP97hDtaUgv8K_wm2kvLYF?gid=2010022109

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/boxscore;_ylt=AsYyfTBK9PaUxYfYvpU6DxakvLYF?gid=2010030501

    (Hey Steve! Got some highlight reels? I’m enjoying these more than the games this year.)

  24. (My post is being moderated because I had links to the game. I assume they’ll come shortly.)

    Last year, Curry put up 31 and 32 points against Atlanta, one in a close win, the other in a close loss. Look at the lineups.

    Hey Steve! Got some highlight reels? I’m enjoying these more than the games this year.

  25. Not going to recap. Think rgg nailed it with one sentence:

    “There’s no reason why this team can’t score, other than the game plan, of course.”

    Have at it.

  26. Knicks and Thunder report:

    The Knicks were -7.5 against the Cavs last night, and LOST 115-109.
    The Thunder were +7 against the Magic, and got blown out 111-88.

    So both teams are 0-1 against the spread since I posted this piece.

  27. Ah, they’re up now. Seriously, look at the stats, the lineups for those games.

    I’ll quickly defer to better basketball minds, but one thing I’m sure of is that these guys are following a plan. And the plan seems to be this–we’ve seen it all season. Try to get the bigs going early–even if it doesn’t work. Let Ellis run the first half and shoot at will–and I don’t believe he was hogging it last night but doing what he was told. Keep Curry under wraps first half (2 shots last night!) and try to get the other players involved, then come out second half. Maybe Smart is doing this to preserve their energy, but I think the opposite is happening: he’s bottling their energy up into frustration. We saw the results of this plan the last two games.

    His first goal should be to GET HIS OFFENSE GOING, any way he can, especially his scorers like Curry, who need to get into a rhythm. I don’t buy all these “shooting slumps”–they didn’t have anything comparable last year. When they get their scoring going, everything else will follow. And if the shooters get going, it frees up other options.

    FREE STEPHEN CURRY!

  28. Actually, I think the solution is simple. Keith Smart just needs a dose of this:

  29. Watch this and enjoy a basketball game. Look at their energy at the end. Go back to the stats and note the rebounding. There are a thousand lessons here:

  30. Lacob and tanking the season revisited:

    Given that Lacob gave up two players for a player he did not intend to play, that is tanking the season whether he intended to or not. To, my knowledge, this is the first time in the history of the NBA that an owner obtained a player he did not intend to play. What a message to send to your players who want to make the playoffs. Given away two players that we need to make the playoffs for nothing. No wonder the team has been despondent and shot 37% from the field last night. What credibility does Lacob now have after telling the team he intended to build the team, when his first step was to wreck it this year? Zero.

    He should get a professional G.M and walk away from being totally involved in all basketball decisions. But his ego won’t allow him to do that.

  31. Haven’t you guys read that Lacob single handedly rebuilt the Boston Celtics, he is also the first man to buy a NBA team without taking a penny out of his own pocket.

    What have you dumb *&^*)# done?

    Lacob rules.

  32. Never attribute to malice that which is readily explained by incompetence. I really doubt that Lacob has a “plan” for self-aggrandizing himself through this team, especially a plan as you suggest that would extend over 2-3 seasons. Negative fan reaction – as just occurred at the trade deadline – costs Lacob and the other investors (theoretical) money – the overall market value of the franchise drops when fans get bummed. There is NO WAY a corp. CEO type like Lacob would intentionally choose that route.

    I think the key here is that, as Riley said, Lacob and Riley worked the phones together hunting for deals. Lacob may be brilliant but Silicon Valley ain’t the NBA and Lacob is only a fan, not an experienced bball exec. Despite his “previous experience” as an investor in the Celtics, the NBA is not his element. In addition, poor Larry Riley isn’t in a position to overrule his new boss on anything at all, the Ws don’t have a lot to bring to a horse trade – and in the end, Chris Cohan did demonstrate a safe and effective low-budget method for squeezing revenue out of a losing team. And Cohan’s business manager didn’t go anywhere.

    Contrary to your doomsday theory, there is some reason to hope. Lacob personally profited from Boston’s turnaround, and he does say he understands the (market) value of flooring a winning team (unlike Cohan, who never said any such thing). In addition, as an obviously bright guy, Lacob will certainly learn his limitations over time. As fans, we’re probably just witnessing his learning curve on that score (dammit) right now.

  33. It’s not just Curry’s disappearance in the Hawks game, it was Monta’s lack of engagement in the Celtics game three days earlier. Rggblog nailed it with two words: game plan. It could be that these two guys — and probably others — are not buying what Smart’s selling.

  34. Props to Bob Fitzgerald for his professional handling of play-by-play during the last two stinker games. I and others ripped him for his incessant whining earlier in the season, but apparently he’s heard the criticism and learned from it. A thin silver lining on the cloud that now hangs over my watching of this team.

  35. White Hat, Our Team, and others:

    In his conference call, (which I have yet to hear, but read some excerpts of), Lacob whined: “Please give me more than 6 months to make a BIG deal.”(emphasis mine)

    I have no doubt that Lacob is positively jonesing for a BIG deal, a deal that says “Joe Lacob just made the Warriors a playoff team.” I have no doubt that Lacob and Riley swung and missed on a BIG deal. But….

    Lacob is spinning. He is telling a story. The Warriors never needed a BIG deal. All they needed, all they ever needed since the start of this season, was a good D-league player. One good D-league player. A LITTLE deal.

    Joe Lacob stabbed the Warriors in the back by refusing, right from the start of this season, to do the LITTLE deals that would put the Warriors in contention. A refusal to banish Jeremy Lin, a refusal to buy out Charlie Bell, a refusal to go out and sign a REAL player instead of Acie Law.

    A refusal to reach into the D-leagues for the players the Warriors REALLY needed. Don Nelson NEVER failed to get the players he needed from the D-leagues. Mario Elie, Vincent Askew, Avery Johnson, Raja Bell, Adrien Griffin, Greg Buckner, Matt Barnes, Kelenna Azubuike, CJ Watson, Reggie Williams, Anthony Tolliver, Chris Hunter and on and on and on. Do you really think that Larry Riley — Nellie’s right-hand man — didn’t know how to go out and find those players? Well, WHY DIDN’T HE?

    The players the Warriors needed were out there — they are ALWAYS out there — but Joe Lacob REFUSED to go out and get them. This bench is the laughingstock of the league. Everyone knows it. Even Joe Lacob knows it, because he admitted it. He told Radnich that the Warriors need a big shooting guard. But he sat on his hands. ALL SEASON LONG.

    You have to be able to explain that to me to make me think I’m wrong. I KNOW I’m right. Joe Lacob wants the glory when these Warriors turn it around. It will not be Don Nelson, nor Don Nelson’s assistant, nor Don Nelson’s roster, nor especially Don Nelson’s system, that gets this Warriors team into the playoffs.

    Lacob has guaranteed that the Warriors won’t make the playoffs until NEXT YEAR, after he has had time to pull off the BIG coaching hire and the BIG transaction that he can sell as putting this Warriors team over the top. It will be Joe Lacob’s team, and Joe Lacob’s coach, and Joe Lacob’s “new philosophy,” that gets the Warriors into the playoffs.

    And one other thing: if you can’t see Joe Lacob’s hand in these last 2 miserable defeats, and every other time this season that Keith Smart has cravenly played awful big men and walked the ball up the court, when the situation clearly called for a small lineup and running, then you’ve got your head in the sand. Lacob is holding Smart’s balls in his hand. And squeezing.

    Joe Lacob sabotaged this season from beginning to end, and from top to bottom. And he did it intentionally. So that the “Joe Lacob era” can begin for real.

    Next year.

  36. Hey Feltbot. You should go here to watch the videos of Lacob on the call-in.

    http://www.nba.com/warriors/fanzone/owners_box_022511.html

  37. We haven’t tanked, though. Cleveland is tanking. We’re setting ourselves up to get a 10-12 lottery pick. Oh, boy.

  38. I can’t believe that anyone actually thinks this team could be “in contention” with only a few moves. This team is built on foam.

  39. Here is Feltbot’s write up of the Atlanta win last season:

    http://feltbot.com/2010/02/22/curry-to-watson-warriors-108-hawks-104/

    I started reading this blog because I finally found not only someone who explained what was going on in the games but whose excitement matched what I saw on the court. Another possible loss is that FB won’t have much to be enthusiastic about the rest of the season, maybe nothing to write about as he’ll only be repeating himself.

    Talent is a terrible thing to waste.

  40. You lost all credibility when you talk about ‘kurt’ heinrich.

  41. WheresMyChippy

    Reading that recap from last year kills me, rgg.

    Lacob’s firing of Nellie is the greatest crime in the history of basketball. I can’t stand it to think of what has been taken away from us… what we could have been watching all year…

  42. Will do, IQ. Thanks for the link.

  43. Feltie, totally agree that this season’s Ws team needs to get at least some average quality backups, and that a competent GM (and seasoned owner) would have easily had them in place by now.

    But I have to disagree with your claim that the shorthandedness problem didn’t exist with Nelson. It was actually worse then because even when he had healthy bodies Nellie wouldn’t play half of them.

    The simplest explanation is the least unlikely: Joe Lacob is suddenly out of his depth, and Larry Riley is trying to keep his job by being quietly agreeable with the boss. Picture Lacob as Rob “I’m in control” Rowell learning basketball contract negotiations from Steven Jackson.

  44. Minnesota:

    Nice game by Tolliver. . . .

  45. felt: If Joe Lacob’s new team got to the playoffs this year, his first, he’d achieve cult hero status among the fan base. As it is, he’s being hanged in effigy. I agree with gmoney that Lacob’s trying to micromanage and run the show with Riley’s input, and Riley’s input is simply not enough. We need a better, more experienced GM.

    And, yes, Keith Smart is THAT bad. Look at what he’s doing to Curry. And he’s still mishandling Udoh. That’s not Joe Lacob. That’s Keith Smart. Yes, Lacob gave us Amundson and Lin, but there are other openings that could have been filled on this team by Riley. I don’t buy that Lacob is holding Riley back from filling those secondary needs; I just think Riley doesn’t have the creative vision to get this done in the right way.

  46. @ wheresmychippy:

    Nellie was often clever with matchups and substitutions, but team play suffered as a result. Using players like interchangeable parts made teamwork – coordination and timing, reliance on others, etc. – difficult if not impossible. At the end of last year, when Nelson couldn’t swap and sub much during games, the Dubs actually did just as well. With less input/interference from the coach (little was possible with so few players), their teamwork got better.

    There’s a price for everything. Sometimes during games I wonder if Nelson wouldn’t have… whatever, and I wish Smart were as clever as Nellie on the bench. But it is certain that if Nelson were in charge, the Ws wouldn’t have the team ethic this bunch seems to have. In all his time as a coach, especially as the Warriors coach, Nelson’s teams never grew that way.

    I don’t think Smart is as good a game day coach as Nelson – very few coaches in history have ever been. But I think Smart is trying to grow a team, and some of his game time decisions reflect that. The results are starting to show: somewhat better D, more team play on O (fewer 1-on-5 isolations), and better morale (no one screaming for a trade!).

    Smart’s biggest problem is that he has so little to work with. After the Lee deal, the FO has brought in no one who can help (except Adrien, a good special-purpose role player who they’ve now jacked around). The team doesn’t need another star to be competitive, they need a few lunch bucket types who merely won’t do harm. A CJ, a Tolliver, and/or any fair-to-middlin’ backup center would help a lot, immediately. Amundsen and Lin won’t. By definition, average players are in the majority, so they can’t be all that hard to find. What’s the holdup, exactly?

    I think Smart’s approach to team building has more upside than Nelson’s did. Think San Antonio, or Jerry Sloan’s Utah, or the 80s Pistons. Even the 80s Bulls only really had about 1.5 “superstars” on the team at any given time. The Warriors have more. If the FO could give Smart some bodies to work with, the team would have a chance.

    As things stand today, the Warriors are, once again, as ever, a laughingstock. Tire out or foul out one starter and the game is over. The main reason the Dubs lose is because they’re too often forced to play 8-on-15, not because Smart ain’t Nelson.

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  48. Utah will “likely never make the playoffs again”… what? That is an incredibly irresponsible remark from a a supposed nba blogger. Strong statement with no evidence to prove it. You could have said that back before we drafted Deron too. In fact, it was more likely back then, but look what happened. Utah is in a much better situation than they were back then, PLUS we have the same type of pick now that we acquired to get Deron. Your comment is silly.

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