Dead Men Walking: Sixers 125 Warriors 117

It’s getting difficult to make sense of what is going on during Warriors’ games currently. So many agendas are being worked out, so many little dramas. Biedrins taking a back seat to Udoh’s development. Stephen Curry sitting out an entire fourth quarter of a close game. Working Al Thornton, and a radically different style of play, into the rotation.

It is fair to ask at this point whether the Warriors as an organization are even trying to win basketball games.                                          

Which is frustrating, because if the last two closely contested road losses — to the vaunted Celtics, and to a surging Sixers team that has the best record in the East over the last month — show anything, it is just how close the Warriors are in talent to the best teams in the league.  And just how many games they might have won this season, if Joe Lacob had not bought the franchise.

Keith Smart: I’m getting tired of piling on Keith Smart. Blogging is not a blood sport to me. I like to think that my compulsion to write about basketball derives from a higher purpose. Celebration of the style of basketball I love. Ruthless dissection of the style I hate. And advocacy, which is an unquenchable part of me.

There is no longer anything for me to advocate this season. The season has taken its shape and run its course. At this point, by both his actions and — if you like reading between the lines, as I do — his words, Joe Lacob has made clear that there will be no cavalry charging over the hill to rescue Keith Smart. His milk carton is stamped. And with that, my feelings towards him have shifted to empathy.

There is no question that Keith Smart was dealt a lousy hand by Joe Lacob this season. Jeremy Lin, Lou Amundson. Rodney Carney, the Warriors only defensive swingman on the bench, taken away and replaced by… nobody. Larry Riley had his D-league-twitching hands tied behind his back. Dan Gadzuric, the only real center behind the defunct Andris Biedrins, thrown away for a second round pick.

And let’s not forget the insistence from the start– spoken or unspoken, the insistence was obvious — that this beautifully round Nellieball roster be pounded into a square defense-and-rebounding hole.

Keith Smart had it tough this season, very tough. But having said that — you knew it was coming, didn’t you? — I would be remiss if I didn’t keep pointing out how I think Smart is failing this Warriors’ team. And a lot of things went wrong for him in this game.

Starting with his decision to open the overtime with Andris Biedrins. Could it be that he made this decision solely in the hope that Beans would win the tip and gain the Warriors the first possession? Whatever impelled this choice, it was disastrous against a Sixers lineup whose biggest player was Thaddeus Young. The Sixers wasted no time exploiting Biedrins on the pick and roll, the Warriors couldn’t return the favor with Biedrins polluting the lane, and the Sixers seized the lead and the momentum. A disastrous decision.

Other decisions also perplexed. Biedrins simply didn’t belong on the court in this game against the Sixers small second unit.  If you play him at all, you have to start him against Hawes.  The Warriors were -13 with Beans on the court bridging the first and second quarters. Disastrous. And completely forseeable.

It’s also completely forseeable that this problem will persist as the Warriors go forward. If Biedrins is worth playing at all, it must be against bigger players. Playing him on the second unit will turn him into a target every time.

Other decisions: If you are not planning on playing Udoh down the stretch or in overtime, why yank him when he picks up his fourth foul 4 minutes into the third Q, a 4 minute stretch in which the Warriors were +7?

Stephen Curry sitting out all but the last minute of the fourth quarter….

The failure to fully exploit the pick and roll.  If you still have this game on tape, take a look at a few of the pick and rolls the Warriors ran in this game:

Big Lineup:

  • 10:25 1Q: Lee/Ellis, Lee is bottled up in the lane because Udoh brings his man to him.
  • 3:00 1Q: With Biedrins stinking up the lane, Lee is forced to pop and Curry is swarmed.
  • 10:45 2Q: Same problem, turnover.

Small Lineup:

  • 2:25 3Q: With Vlad Rad at 4 spreading the floor, a Lee/Curry PNR results in Lee being wide open down the lane, leading to a perfect pass to DWright for free throws.
  • 6:40 4Q: With Vlad Rad at center (!), the Sixers cannot blitz Acie Law on the pick and roll. Layup.
  • 5:35 4Q: Same play again, drive and dish to Reggie Williams.

For a great pick and roll player like David Lee, this game presented a dream matchup against Elton Brand. It should have been exploited. That meant forcing the Sixers into what they wanted to do anyway: going small. No Biedrins, no Amundson on the floor, ever.  And it meant spacing Udoh, and giving him the green light to fire that 20 footer, regardless. To keep the defense honest. Lee got a mere 11 shots in this game, shooting 7-11. I just don’t think that’s the way a good coach would have game-planned it.

I was confused trying to determine the Warriors’ plan of action in this game. No matter how sympathetically you might regard Keith Smart’s predicament this season, I think you must admit that his real-time game decisions do not speak with the same kind of authority that we expect of an NBA coach.

Andris Biedrins: Beans has been getting killed in the press and by the fans recently, particularly since he willingly accepted a demotion to the second unit.

I think he’s being treated unfairly.

Yes, that’s right.  I know I have been as harsh as anyone in pointing out his free throw woes, and what I have called his cowardice in shying away from contact. But when I wrote those statements I was still holding out hope that Beans was working his way back into shape, and could improve. That hope is now gone. And I don’t think it’s Beans fault.

Andris Biedrins has a CHRONIC INJURY. It’s related to his abdomen, and that “hernia” surgery he had last season. It has robbed him of his quickness and athleticism, which was the hallmark of his game. And when those went, so did his confidence and decisiveness. And when those went, he lost his hands, and his mind.

That’s what he’s getting killed for. Everyone can see how frightened and feeble he is on the basketball court right now. But it is actually unfair to him. Because he’s injured, and he is never going to get better.

Yes, I know he just gave an interview in which he said he felt great physically. I think this may be untrue, because I’ve seen him come out of two games recently clutching his abdominal area. What he is willing to admit to is that he can’t get his game back, and can’t figure out why.

I can figure out why. First of all, he can’t jump.  Just take a look at his shotblocking totals. 1.7 a game at the height of his power. .9 a game now.

Take a look at his finishes in the lane.  Do you remember how he used to finish before he got injured?  He would flash across the lane to that lefty layup, that was unblockable because it was above the rim. Do you remember all those alley-oops Nellie used to run for him? Gone, along with Biedrin’s jumping ability. What we see now are flat-footed jumphooks.

More than this, Beans is actually afraid to jump.  Can you think of a good reason why Biedrins did not jump center this season? Why David Lee jumped center in his place? To me (and only me, I have not been able to get anyone in the media to take interest in this subject) the answer is obvious:

The Warriors’ are protecting Biedrins from aggravating his injury.

Along with his jumping, Bean’s has lost his running ability.  This once great player who used to beat his man downcourt with regularity, and frequently be the first Warriors defender back on defense is now laboring up and down the court.

And that spells doom. Beans is not a banger.  He’s extremely light in fact, at 240, for a center. What made him special as a player was his athleticism and quickness. That’s gone, and it’s not coming back. Whatever it is that’s going on, and I strongly suspect it may be osteitis pubis, it’s not going to get better.  You can read that in Biedrins’ attitude. He is playing out the string.

Andris Biedrins is finished as a basketball player.

The conspiracy of silence surrounding this is baffling to me.  I can understand the euphemisms and obfuscations being employed by Warriors management and Biedrins himself. They want to keep Beans as mentally strong as possible, and protect him as much as possible from being exploited on the court.

But the mainstream media?  Like Biedrins in the lane, they have dropped the ball.

Stephen Curry: If it weren’t for the overtime, Curry would have gotten 30 minutes in this game. This after getting 31 minutes in the Boston game. While Monta is getting overworked.

Seriously, what is up with this?  I wonder why this isn’t more of an issue in the press? It’s astonishing to me that no one is covering this.

We all know that Stephen Curry can single-handedly carry a team, don’t we? I mean, we saw it time and time again last year, right? He is that good. So what is going on?

Is it a physical issue?  Are Curry’s ankles still bothering him?  He has looked gassed on occasion.

Or is it something else, some issue between Smart and Curry? I have had an increasing perception that something is wrong about Curry’s body language this season. He frequently doesn’t seem completely engaged in the huddles to me, among other things.

Stephen Curry is a very, very intelligent kid. I think he may have read Joe Lacob’s mail very early on in this season. And now he’s just gritting his teeth and fighting through it.

Or maybe that’s just me projecting my own feelings. What do you think?

On a slightly different note: I have contemplated off and on doing a statistical comparison of Curry’s last season under Nellie with this season under Smart. Matt Steinmetz got the jump on me with this very interesting tweet yesterday:

“Stephen Curry had 10 or more assists in 9 of last 29 games in 2009-10. This year, 5 times total in 54 games.”

Brother, I could write 5 posts about what those simple figures imply, if the heart hadn’t been cut out of me. On second thought, maybe I’ve already done it.

Thunder Watch: The Thunder failed to cover their -6 spread against Phoenix last night, twice. First in regulation. And then again in overtime.

The Thunder are now 1-3 against the spread since I began my watch. And I predict this will get worse, not better, when Perkins returns.

Have you voted yet? Grade Joe Lacob.

37 Responses to Dead Men Walking: Sixers 125 Warriors 117

  1. GovernorStephCurry

    Don’t you think it’s hilarious Nellie gets attacked by the press for not playing Randolph, and then Smart benches our best player Curry for no reason the whole season, and i hear not a word? What coach up 3 benches their best player for the entire 4th quarter when he’s having a great game, and then leaves in Ellis who was having (and had) a horrible game, and doesn’t take him out. Then after the game he says people need to get on Ellis’ level. I’m glad they weren’t on his level. If everyone on the team shot 11-27, grabbed 1 rebound, dished 2 assists to 6 turnovers and had a -11 in a game lost by 7, we would have been blown out. Our coach is an imbecile, and the stupid bay area media has said nothing.

  2. Ellis taking 27 shots and makiing 27 points is nothing to write home about, even though he was critical to the Warriors getting into overtime. And he had six turnovers. Ellis should not be taking 27 FG attempts and Curry only 16. This happens game after game.

    Smart has no clue as to who his best players are. With Udoh on the court, the Sixers shot less then 50% from the floor and the Warriors went up six points. And Udoh was not to be seen in the fourth quarter. Smart decided to play Biedrins instead, against because he thought Biedrins could rebound better. Udoh had 5 defensive rebounds in his 12 minutes of play and caused a few Sixer turnovers.

    And his not playing Curry until well into the fourth quarter also made no sense.

    Radman is a disaster. His stupid fouls at critical times happen over and over again. Playing Radman and Amundson in the fourth is not going to result in many minutes. And why is D.Wright playing 41 minutes and R.Williams so few? Ridiculous.

    I agree that Biedrins should never play in the fourth quarter. In fact, he should be third on the depth chart. Pick the second back-up, Radman or Amundson.Both are losers.

  3. Interesting thoughts as usual, Feltbot. I still hear the question of why Golden State fans are so loyal and energetic, although less so lately. I think the answer is that there was a real pleasure in seeing a team that did it differently. The brand of unconventionalism Nellie’s teams played was fun to watch, even when they lost. This may sound heretical but I’d rather watch an exciting team lose than a boring team win. Also, there was a sense of underdog that was the fuel to the “I believe” fire. That just isn’t there anymore. In Smart’s defense, I think it would be very hard for him to be unconventional even if he wanted to, being on a one year contract with a new owner.

  4. IQofaWarrior

    Feltbot, I have an interesting question for you. We know that Don Nelson’s approach has always been about playing the mismatches and finding what makes the opponent uncomfortable and attack it. At this point, it should be clear that Keith Smart takes a different approach to the game strategy than Nellie does. What do you think Smart’s approach is? What do you think he focuses on during the game? Defensive schemes? Defensive matchups? Pace?

  5. That is an interesting question IQ, and one I have contemplated very frequently. It seems obvious that he has changed his focus considerably since the beginning of the season, sometimes game to game, and that his focus is very different from Nelson’s. Beyond that, I would have a difficult time answering. Especially last night.

    I guess that is what I was getting at when I said that he was coaching without authority. His thought processes do not seem consistent game to game, and are not easily discernible.

  6. Thunder update: Thunder lost by 4 to Memphis tonight, failing to cover +2.5. So they’re now 1-4 ATS since I started the watch.

  7. Here’s a nice development (on the Sloan conference):

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Rise-of-the-machines-Will-coaches-cede-control-;_ylt=AlDPLw4cQnE2smvQ_ha_HGe8vLYF?urn=nba-330135

    From which I take this:

    Sure, technologists and analysts are experts in technology and analysis, but basketball coaches, at least in theory, are experts in basketball. Shouldn’t that matter? Moreover, many coaches are notoriously micromanaging control freaks that live in constant fear of losing their jobs. You think they’re going to just willingly substitute some bean counter’s calls for their own judgment when they’re the ones getting raked over the coals following every loss?

    We’re in Lacob territory. . .

  8. Felt: Very interesting points. Yes, Biedrins is done, but I think his effectiveness earlier in his career was more modest than you and many others recall now. He was never that good; he used to grab a few more rebounds than he does now but he just hasn’t had any fire in his belly about basketball for years. Re Smart, I think he gets confused during the games, which causes him to forget players on his bench and even yell at players for things they didn’t do. Did you see him yell at Curry last night when someone else (not Curry) missed a defensive assignment resulting in that key open layup for T Young? Smart called a TO and screamed at Curry. And, yes, Curry just slumped his head and shoulders and retreated to the back of the huddle, as he does almost always this year. Yes, Curry’s too classy to say or even hint anything to the press but he’s sick of Coach Smart. Curry’s body language has been saying this since 1/3 of the way through this season. And I don’t blame him one bit. I can’t remember seeing an NBA Head Coach treat a talented young point guard this poorly. And then Smart telling MT2 recently that he has had to “reassure” Curry many times this season bc he beats himself up so–how sickening. Smart is confused and delusional.

  9. IQofaWarrior

    @Feltbot: Hmm, part of the reason why Smart may not seem consistent is that it’s his first season being a head coach, and he’s trying to test what strategies work and don’t work. I really doubt even Nellie figured out his coaching strategies in year 1.

    Anyway, I do also think that Smart is done here. I don’t think Lacob will hire him back during the summer. Why do I get this feeling that Smart will land a gig in another NBA team, get the players that fit into whatever defensive schemes he focuses on, and come back and torch us?

  10. Keith Smart blows up in the lockerroom post-Philly loss. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/03/06/SP8I1I512M.DTL
    Am I the only one who feels that cracks are beginning to appear between Smart and the happy Warriors lockerroom? As I believe I kind of predicted, pre-season:
    http://feltbot.com/2010/09/30/the-smart-move/

    Also, more and good coverage on the Lacob “real fans” comment:
    http://www.bayareasportsguy.com/joe-lacob-might-want-to-sit-out-for-a-couple-of-plays/

  11. IQofaWarrior

    It will depend on how the Warriors respond in the next game. Then we’ll see if there are cracks between the Warriors and Smart. Remember, Smart has yelled at the players once or twice before when they started the game completely dead.

  12. Lot of interesting reading here lately, with Felt, as always, leading the charge.

    My overall feelings about everything GSW:

    (1) Some guys were just born to be “backups” in life. Nothing wrong with holding clipboards, or being a late-inning pinch hitter, or playing on special teams only, or being the 6th-12th guy off the bench in the NBA, or getting coffee for your boss, etc etc. “Backups” can make LOTS of m-o-n-e-y and lead even better lives than all those folks they’re “backing up”. The point? Keith Smart is a “backup” whose job promotion this season has plain and simply overwhelmed him. He’s a good (backup) coach, but not a good head coach. And like Mike Singletary, will probably never be one. Probably. And the Warriors can’t wait around for the definitive answer.

    (2) I never voted on the Lacob poll. I thought the postive-toward-Lacob choices were TOO positive, and the more demeaning choices were TOO demeaning and over reactive for this stage of his tenure as GSW bigwig. The next couple of years will tell the tale, but until then we’re all just speculating on Lacob’s competence as it applies to running an NBA franchise.

    No, I don’t believe he’s “tanking” this season. Most people, and especially those who have wildly succeeded in the business world, detest the thought of being seen as losers or failures. And to some extent, that’s been a huge factor in their success stories. I find it extremely hard to believe that Lacob wants to do anything other than win. Win games, win trades, win the media, win the fans, win bidding wars, even down to winning pickup basketball games. Ultimately, us fans may not view Lacob as a winner, but I’d never consider him as someone who willfully would ever want to lose, for ANY reason, and for even the shortest period of time.

    (3) I really don’t get this uproar over “real fans” vs all the rest. Regardless of what Lacob ACTUALLY said, or what he ACTUALLY meant to say, can people really be this thin skinned over what really amounts to a bunch of nothing? Whatever came from Lacob’s lips was a generalization, and how it could be perceived as a direct slap in any one individual’s face is pretty funny, at least to me.

    If and when I want to go to a game, I’ll go. I don’t make the decision based on whether or not I like the owner. If the team is competitive and fun to watch, enough said. I do things to please me, and if in the process I’m padding someone else’s wallet, so be it. Did people have any problem padding the coffers of Chris Cohan during the “We Believe” season? Of course not. They went, and they watched, and they listened because the team was so damn exciting. Entertainment. Self pleasure.

    If Joe Lacob said to my face that I was not a REAL fan of the Warriors I wouldn’t be turned off from supporting the team in whatever way I chose, but the unsubstantiated words would definitely sting. But this instead is Lacob talking in general terms about the World of Anonymity, also known as the blogosphere/internet message boards, where the vast majority of participants (seemingly) are airheaded high school dropouts who post multiple messages/blogs under multiple usernames all the while spewing craziness and insults. What Lacob is actually doing is blasting the many blogosphere versions of posters such as “robert rowell” who constantly cries “boycott” while forever hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. Do you think any of these morons would EVER write what they write if they were required to post under their actual full names? LOL HAHAHA (BTW, in just another example of the low IQ and idiocy of the posters that I just referred to, here’s another typical post from Kawakami’s blog site………..
    rigged says:
    March 7th, 2011 at 10:01 am 11..”I’ve read that feltbot is on Lacobs payroll.
    That was a brilliant PR move.
    I wonder why Joe Lacobs needs a feltbot.
    Obviously, Bob FitzHOMMERgerald isn’t enough”.

    Remember, these are largely the kind of “fans” that Lacob was talking about.)

    This season was lost when Nelli stayed in Hawaii. I agree with “bleep”. I’d rather watch an exciting team lose than a boring team win if we’re not talking about a championship season. And the most exciting seasons in Warriors’ history (save their championship season) was when Nelli coached the team. But the seasons go on, and this year wasn’t a total downer given the additions of Lee and Wright. Add another very good player next season along with a quality overhaul of their bench, and bingo, Lacob ain’t such a bad owner/GM/dude afterall. Ya think?

  13. “Ridiculous Upside has confirmed that the Hornets plan to call-up Rio Grande Valley Vipers guard Jerel McNeal for the next 10 days beginning with Wednesday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks.”

    This story reported today is an example of moves made THROUGHOUT this season by teams that were determined to compete THIS YEAR. It was never done once by the Warriors, who are arguably THE BEST at finding talent in the D-League in the entire league. (I believe that Larry Riley understands very well Don Nelson’s unparalleled methodology for evaluating D-League guards.) This despite the fact that the Warriors had a DESPERATE need at big guard, that Lacob admits to recognizing.

    WHY?

    The answer was made quite obvious at the trading deadline, and it absolutely baffles me that so few people recognize it. Joe Lacob did not want to buy out assets before the trading deadline to help this team compete this year. He wanted to HOARD those assets in hopes of getting draft picks for them, like the 2nd rounder he picked up from New Jersey. And he wanted to let his expirings come off the books to preserve his flexibility for a BIG move next year.

    In other words he betrayed this year’s team in hopes of helping next year’s team, with big moves that had JOE LACOB stamped on them. He tanked this season.

    Those who don’t want to believe what is staring them right in the face must begin by explaining why Lacob wouldn’t let Larry Riley reach into the D-leagues to fix the Warriors’ glaring need at big guard. I haven’t seen anyone attempt to answer that yet.

    I know the answer.

  14. Lots of interesting points being made. I have to say that the quality of Feltbot’s posts and people who respond to those posts in an intelligent way have proven to be a grown up version of what else is out there.

    I have to say I also stayed away from your last post and poll. Like Steve I cannot get behind your theory that Lacob is throwing the season so he can look like a savor when he eventually turns it around. I think he would have looked like a savor if he would have turned it around this year which to me makes your argument moot. To me he has shown nothing put a desire to win. He yet has demonstrated a know how to do so. I don’t think the firing of Nelson, who I feel had to go, and the hiring of Smart, who deserved a shot, is nothing more than Lacob trying to change the direction and culture of the team going into his first season. Lacob’s consistent praise of Lee and what he has meant to the locker room culture is indicative of that belief. Were I think Lacob’s failure has been so far is taking steps towards what he stated as his long term goal. On the conference call he had with season tickets holders he said that he believes in his dynamic back court and thinks the team should be built around them. If that’s the case then the obvious formula is to get big and strong in your front court. At the deadline the Warriors neither acquired that player or made it possible to obtain that player in the off season via free agency. I think his mistake is not willing to take a step back by selling off assets in order to clear the space necessary to acquire a player that will allow them to take a huge step forward. Instead they will be stuck in purgatory with the ability in the off season to make only minor adjustments to the current roster heading into next season. Unless he’s able to find a transformative trade this team will not improve much next year from this year. That is highly unlikely. If the Clips could find away to move Baron’s contact I have to believe there could have been a way to dump Biedrins and Bell’s if that was the focus.

    I’m at wits end with Smart. Unlike Felt my feelings have not transformed to empathy. As Felt said the Warriors have the talent to compete against two of the toughest Eastern Division teams on the road and win. Both loses can be contributed to Smart and his in game management. He is so inconsistent game to game it lends itself tot the fact that he doesn’t really know what he is doing or lacks the ability to be proactive during the game rather than reactive. It’s alway the reactive coach who loses the coaching battle and on most nights the game. The Sixers game displayed this like no other. Collins clearly out coached Smart. The most egregious to me was Smart not realizing that the most effective player he had (Udoh) was nailed to the bench the hole 4th quarter. At around the 6 minute mark Smart’s fatal decision was to replace Radman with Lee at center and then subsequently Aumundson. The Warriors repeatedly got destroyed in the middle. Neither player could defend the middle and the Sixers scored on nearly every possession down the stretch. One the offensive side neither Lee or Aumundson contributed anything. I’d Udoh and Curry come in to finish that game they win instead of lose. Instead Smart hamstrings them, starts blowing a gasgit and then refuses to look in the mirror afterwards. So hence the same mistakes keep being made game to game. On the post game was I was waiting for Steinmetz to lambast his for this but once again there was nothing from him or the reporters who do Smart’s post game interview. I’m going to start referring to them as his enablers.

  15. FromWayDowntown

    Not improving the team but instead stripping it bare over the course of the season speaks for it self.

    I can understand that Nellie-haters don’t see a problem with his treatment and the installment of lame-duck Smart. But the roster development is absolutely telling.

  16. The first decision that Lacob made, one that should have given us pause, is that he put up $450 million for the club, $50m more than Ellison and probably over $100m more than it was worth. The team, its talent, the expectations of the fans and the game itself have all been leveraged out in ways we’ll find out about later.

    Stay tuned.

  17. J Walk, Davis is probably perceived around the league as being capable of a higher level of hoops function/utility than either biedrins or bell, but the inclusion of LA-C’s future first round pick (likely a decent lottery position, and impossible for GS to match) was a necessary incentive for the rebuilding Cle team. lacob probably wanted a draft pick from Cle to take jamison (and his hefty contract through the end of next season) in the rumoured t.murphy re-trade, and was turned down. until the pick traded to NJ for m.williams two years ago gets cashed in, the woeyrs’ first round picks through 2014 are frozen for trading purposes by league restriction.

    in the Phi game, smart failed to implement a very fundamental closing tactic : constant substitution for either offense or defense/boards when the team has a small lead in the final minutes. after ellis made foul shots with under 3 min. to give them a one possession lead, smart persisted with his three guards and williams soon after watched his man go over and past him for a put back from a missed 3 pt. shot. smart’s substitutions continued to be tardy in the passive OT.

  18. Cleveland:

    I swear, it’s as if Smart doesn’t want to run away with a resounding win.

  19. Not recapping the Cavs game, so this is an open thread. I’ll be watching the replay later tonight.

  20. Joe Lacob discusses all of the “big” deals the Ws swung on and missed:
    http://www.csnbayarea.com/03/08/11/QA-with-Warriors-owner-Joe-Lacob/landing_warriors.html?blockID=435838&feedID=8349
    I reiterate: a big deal would have been nice, but that wasn’t what the Warriors needed.

  21. What we needed–and still need:

    I watched the tail end of the Portland Miami game (5th. straight loss for the Heat), and one of the announcers said it was the Portland bench who won the game.

  22. Feltbot has brought up an interesting question – Is Lacob tanking?, and is asking for grades of Lacob. Obviously the key to success in the NBA is an organization that can bring in top players and keep those players motivated. The Warriors new organization is off to a bad start. Actually as I write that I realize that there is really no new organization(execs above the coach) as Lacob is the only change. So, Lacob is off to a bad start. The interesting question becomes; is the bad start due to Lacob’s incompetence or perhaps a subconscious desire to tank to the team to allow enough time for him to get total credit..

    Feltbot’s points from the Tanking post:

    1. – Lacob fired Nelson because if Nellie had taken the team to the playoffs Lacob would not have gotten the credit for the turnaround.
    Response – Close, but not quite. What was the biggest motivation for Lacob buying the team? Lacob thinks he knows basketball and wants to prove this at the NBA level. If Nellie was there, playoffs or not, Lacob could not make the basketball decisions and would certainly not get credit for them. Lacob wants to make the basketball decisions, otherwise he cannot satisfy his strongest motive for buying the team. This means, as FB has often said, Lacob is the GM and Riley’s job is the safest one in the building because he has always been a figurehead with the Warriors and Riley is comfortable as a figurehead. Riley will be cast aside once Lacob Jr is ready for the job( a secondary reason for buying the team – his son needs a job and wasn’t smart enough or didn’t want to go to a VC firm).

    2. – hiring Linn to tank because a turnaround couldn’t happen if Linn were part of the team
    Response – Nope. He didn’t hire Linn to tank. He hired Linn to prove that Lacob has a basketball pedigree that can translate to the NBA. Did you hear Lacob’s initial comments regarding Linn? Lacob used to coach in a Palo Alto league against Linn and his own son was playing point guard against Linn. Lacob even said there was some really good point guards in that league and his son was almost as good as Linn. Linn being on an NBA team just validates Lacob’s delusion that he coached against NBA level talent and that his son, as a point guard, was close to NBA level talent. A two-fer.

    3. – Hiring Smart so he could hire his own savior coach a year later.
    Response – Agreed. But this does not mean he is tanking. However – this also really supports the incompetence theory. Let’s be real here, Lacob knew all along he wanted a submissive GM so his strategy had to be hiring a great coach. If you are going to spend $450M and know your only important hire is a coach – since you are not hiring a functional GM, AND you have been on the periphery of the NBA as a minority owner so you have some contacts… AND THEN you did not have ANY kind of a plan to set up that coaching hire before you bought the team?????? Are you kidding me?? NO PLAN. This is scary incompetence because he already obviously knew he was not going to retain Nelson. He could have easily hired the savior coach this season if he had a plan– and this blows the Lacob won’t get credit for the turnaround theory since anything his new coach accomplishes is going to support the Lacob rebuilt the team theory. He knew the savior coach would be his one and only important basketball hire and he interviewed??? – NO ONE!!! Scary… This also gets to the DNA of VC people. Their main job is to hire a CEO and support him until they fire him and then hire a new CEO. That is REALLY all VC’s do in terms of running the company. Any input they try to give as to operations is usually ridiculous except for the rare exceptions like Ray Lane who was a successful CEO before becoming a VC. So what Lacob has concentrated on for years to be a successful VC is to hire a successful CEO and then let them hire their team and run the company until the VC’s fire him and repeat process with new CEO. In spite of this Lacob still has the Chris Cohan front office in place??? Hard to Believe! (pun intended). I think Lacob did not want to tank but wanted to establish his place within the organization so he is established as making the basketball decisions before he hires a new coach. His biggest concern after taking over the team is to make sure his basketball people are comfortable with Lacob in the GM role. That is why Riley and Smart were retained. With a year of defacto GM behind him Lacob can now insure the new coach will come on board knowing Lacob is the GM.

    4. – Not filling up the bench and whiffing on the trade deadline to tank…
    Response – He did not do this to tank. Since he is now GM he can take credit for any good personnel moves. And Feltbot is right, this is totally about taking credit for Lacob. Lacob has stated that money is no object, although he also stated first that he did not think you had to go over the cap to win… But still, he let Morrow, CJ Watson, and worst of all – Tolliver leave for money! I would say that Tolliver could have made a 4 or 5 game difference for the Warriors by now. Okay – Feltbot – you are close on this – he did not do this to tank – any good additions he did to the team would be credited to Lacob as the defacto GM. He was genuinely excited at the team’s quick start. Lacob said, “ I think something exciting is already happening here” at his big media day in SF. I think this is INCOMPETENCE not sabotage. Clearly Raja Bell was available and a perfect fit for the Warriors – great point FB. This is incompetence. Not knowing how to get deals done, looking for a big all star approach – whatever – he wanted to do something big – just hasn’t been able to pull it off.

    5. – Lacob wants a lottery pick in 2011.
    Response – This is your strongest point in favor of tanking because it does come back to his big motive for buying the team – proving he can be a GM. Obviously the most fun thing for a GM is to select a lottery pick and I agree Lacob would be giddy about this. Lacob bought this team to be GM and he would love to make a lottery pick. But no one could think that this team would have any real chance of a top 3 lottery pick and if tanking were really his motive – why would he approve an $80M contract for David Lee and significantly decrease the chances of a top lottery pick. And significantly decrease the available funds to sign his own impact free agent down the road. Notice he has tried to take credit for the Lee signing. Clearly not a tanking strategy. (A little nostalgia – remember when Nellie tanked to get Penny Hardaway/Weber – a beautiful thing – I was never so excited to watch the Warriors lose.) Nellie knew how to tank and when to tank – Lacob knows neither.

    6. Lacob did not want to get D-Leaguers because he wants to tanks.
    Response – This is an impossible reason for the lack of D-Leaguers as the potential drop in draft position would be barely noticeable at this point. The real reason Lacob doesn’t want D-Leaguers is that Nellie was famous for it and the Celtics never used them. Lacob wants to do things his own way to prove he can be an effective GM and thus is dead set against an approach that Nellie was famous for simply because it would be an extension of Nellie ball. This is the reason that Lacob treated Nellie so poorly. Flew him out here and never met with him. Let Riley fire him. That is an unbelievable treatment of the one of the most accomplished persons in NBA history. Nellie was the main obstacle to clearing the playing field for Lacob as GM. Lacob could not meet with Nellie because he could not even begin to talk basketball with Nellie and did not want to be drawn into some situation with Nellie where Nellie hung around at all…

    So to summarize – your claim that Lacob is doing this to purposefully tank is just a bridge a little bit too far. You are correct on the big theme that Lacob wants to be GM but didn’t lay out his personal agenda for that which is to prove his and his son’s basketball capabilities. This is the driving force behind all of his decisions. The problem is, for most readers, they see the tank job headline and then dismiss the rest of your arguments, so you tend to lose credibility. The problem for the Warriors is that Lacob’s GM decisions are turning out to be so bad that Feltbot has come up with the TANK theory to try and explain them. Nope – it is pure GM incompetence, but I do believe that Lacob was right about one thing so far – his son was just about as good as Linn, because neither are NBA players.

  23. Very interesting analysis, Buckaroo, and very convincingly presented.

    And that last line is a killer!

  24. Lacob has been less than up front about his influence on the team, before the trade was official and after. He keeps claiming he’s on a wait-and-see mode, see what his guys can do, but this isn’t true. It’s obvious from FB’s interview above that he set the agenda for trades this past month. And he took credit for Lin. But there has to be more that he’s not telling us. I’ve forgotten the timing, but it’s pretty clear he was behind the Amundson deal, isn’t it? I can’t remember where I saw this, but I read from a good source that not keeping Tolliver was Nelson’s indication he was on the way out, so he had a hand in there as well? Then there are all the decisions that have not been made when needed (acquiring bench players etc.), and these have his fingerprints on them as well.

    What else hasn’t he told us?

  25. Buckaroo, thank you. lacob’s actions and posturing easily fit within well-established and documented patterns of alpha males establishing pre-eminence in a new domaine. when an outsider lion first takes over a pride he doesn’t stop with the ouster of his predecessor, but goes on to kill the cubs sired by the previous alpha. on the hoops side of things, rather than the bidness side, nelson was the preceding alpha. lacob in fact made allies out of cohan and rowell in order to get an edge over the competing alpha, ellison.

    whether consciously or subconsciously smart understands he has to support the philosophic extermination of nelson’s blood line by putting brakes on the up tempo offense and inhibiting curry’s fullest exposition/development. drawing on the d-league for talent development/acquisition is very much nelson’s brainchild, and lacob must eradicate or at least downplay that as well. consciously, he might not even be aware of it, and probably thinks too many d-leaguers make his team appear minor-league, similar to how he made it clear he didn’t approve of the way nelson presented himself in public.

  26. More and more I’m feeling like Lacob is holding us all by the private parts.

    From whom is he getting advice? Certainly not his GM or coach. Anybody other than the bean counters at the Sloan conference? Is he lining up possibilities now for a new head coach? If so, who? Who will be available? Will he select someone with experience—and clout? If so, will he defer to his opinion? Or will he pick someone who fits his conception of basketball and keep him on a string as he has Smart? Or will he not find anybody and decide to keep Smart one more year, under the same terms, with the same results?

  27. geraldmcgrew

    Has Lacob left anything interesting about this team?

    I will continue to read every word of this blog. Best basketball writing there is. But the team does not currently interest me.

    Sucks.

  28. Daryl Morey and Bill Simmons from the MIT Sports Analytics Conference. (Couldn’t find the Joe Lacob interview)

  29. “Beyond the Box Score”…..About a 2 month old interview with Lacob.

  30. The bottom half of the playoff race in the West figures to be pretty interesting. Boo hoo, no GSW. :(

    http://nba-point-forward.si.com/2011/03/08/playoff-race-heats-up-for-bottom-of-west/?eref=sihp

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  33. FromWayDowntown

    I really like the “Incompetence” theory. Very convincing. And it fits very well into the VC/alpha male mindset problematic.

    So basically feltbots “Tankin” scenario was bad but “Incompetence” (resulting in accidentally tanking) feels much worse for me.

    The best thing we can hope for now is the next coach who comes on board. Let’s hope it is a really good coach who plays an interesting style and who knows what to do with Lee+Curry.
    And let’s hope Lacob doesn’t screw up totally.