Q&A with Warriors owner Joe Lacob

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Q&A with Warriors owner Joe Lacob

March 8, 2011WARRIORS PAGE WARRIORS VIDEOSam Amick
Special to CSNBayArea.com

BOSTON -- As Warriors owner Joe Lacob exited the stage at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Saturday, he didnt get far before a crowd of ambitious Ivy Leaguers and aspiring statisticians turned his post-panel session into an impromptu job fair.

Lacob obliged the adoring bunch, listening to their respective pitches in 30-second intervals and even fielding a resume from one applicant who was so eager to be the number-crunching prodigy of the NBA. The group of young men and one woman stayed with him for more than a half hour, all of them nodding in agreement as he shared the updated version of his vision for this Warriors team that he bought for a league-record 450 million last July.

There were no critics in this crowd, which surely explained his relaxed demeanor and the subtle smile that he wore. That hasnt been the case in the Bay Area, though, where the Warriors have yet to make the sort of bold moves Lacob predicted and he has been questioned as a result.

After the flattery and fawning came to an end at the Boston Convention and Events Center, Lacob answered his critics while discussing a number of topics with CSNBayArea.com. He talked trade deadline, explaining why it was so quiet for Golden State and how he was so heavily involved in a number of scenarios that didnt transpire. He announced his intention to join the NBA geek-squad in the world of advanced statistics, looking for an edge through the sort of analysis for which Houston general manager and Sloan Conference founder Daryl Morey is known.

Lacob delved into non-Warriors territory as well, discussing the Sacramento Kings and the fact that their potential move to Anaheim might leave him with all of Northern California, but saying it has also left him conflicted on the topic of relocation. The title of the panel on which he spoke said it best: New Sports Owners: The Challenges and Opportunities. And then Lacob said a whole lot more.

Q: So I talked to Kirk (Lacob, Joes son who is a recent Stanford graduate and the teams director of basketball operations) for a long time yesterday (at the conference). He and Pat (Sund, the son of former Seattle and current Atlanta general manager Rick Sund and the Warriors basketball operations coordinator) were running around with their ears burning from everything they were learning.A: Were gathering information right now, you know. And were going to look at everything that everyone else is doing, and then were going to decide what we want to do. (Kirk and Pat) are young guys. Their task is to go and look at it. We have a general manager (Larry Riley) and a director of player personnel as well (Travis Schlenk), but these guys are the young bucks who are challenged to go look at what everyone is doing analytically and see how we can put it together.

Q: What is your view on analytics and the role it plays in the process?A: I dont (quantify) the analytic component. I dont know yet. Were going to look and see how important it really is.

Q: But you mentioned a moment ago (before the interview) that you feel like you will eventually have more analytics than any other pro team. Thats going big, right?A: What Im saying with that is that were very open to looking at new analytics and existing analytics. I just dont want anybody else to have any edge over me. We dont know what it is yet or not, compared to the judgment of the (general manager), or the scouts or whatever. Im going to work to figure that out. I dont know the answer. Basketball is not like baseball. Its a little bit different. But theres a lot more things that people are doing.

We just put these video cameras with Stats Inc. (A Stats Inc. representative said the only NBA teams using this technology are the Warriors, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas. Boston recently signed on and is now partnering with the company as well). We want to be on the cutting edge and see if that can provide value to us.
Q: Break that down for me. The cameras are doing what now?A: Theyre in the arena, and they take tracking pictures of every game.Hopefully theyll eventually be in all the arenas, because then you can analyze the players on other teams and what their tendencies are. And maybe we get a few things out of that that can help our coaching staff.

Q: When did you jump on board with that?A: As soon as I heard about it. I approved it in December. I looked at it and said, I want to get whatever I can out of the video. I want to be able to see tendencies if we can. Were going to try it. I dont know yet how valuable it will be. I suspect its going to be quite valuable. Its how we use that information that is going to be more valuable. Not necessarily the fact that were doing it.

Q: On the panel, you made a comment about the trade deadline and how you took some hits in the media for not making more moves. Can you elaborate on the approach and how you saw that experience in your first time taking part?A: You know, Im not going to run the team based on the media and the fans. Everyone has a different opinion. We all have opinions as fans, right? But Im not going to make dumb trades, just to make a trade. I did say - and the reason I took a hit - is because I did say were going to be bold. I didnt say we were going to be bold tomorrow, or at the trade deadline. We may be bold a year from now - when its right. Like with (Bostons Kevin) Garnett (who was traded to the Celtics in July 2007 when Lacob was a minority owner of the team). We took four years in Boston before we made that move. That was the big, bold move. You have to be prepared for it. You have to have an idea what you want to do, when you want to do it, when you want to go for the jugular - seven guys for one, if you think thats the right trade. Thats all I was saying. But people took it the wrong - big talk and all this.

Look, Ill say the same thing every time. It doesnt mean were going to make a dumb trade just to make a trade.

Q: I was there the day you got introduced (as Warriors owner), and you talked as if you really thought you could turn the expirings (expiring contracts of Brandan Wright, Dan Gadzuric, and Vladimir Radmanovic among them) into something substantial. Did the labor situation (the June 30 expiration of the leagues collective bargaining agreement) change that? (The Warriors only move was sending Wright and Gadzuric to New Jersey in exchange for forward Troy Murphy and a second-round pick. Murphy was then bought out and signed by Boston).A: We thought (the expiring contracts) would be of great value. Not one trade was done with expiring in the entire NBA. Not one, except for the Gerald Wallace deal to Portland for the expiring contract of (Joel) Przybilla and another guy expiring. But they also had to throw in two first-round picks. (Editorial note: The three-way trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to New York included Eddy Currys 11 million expiring contract) We didnt have first-round picks to trade, and the expirings nobody would do because everybody wants as much flexibility going into the lockout. I actually was prepared. I wouldve been the only guy (to trade expirings ). I almost pulled off another trade, which wouldve given us two very good players for...

Q: Feel free to elaborate on who that deal was forA: I cant say, but for an expiring and another player on our roster that we didnt care about as much. After 36 hours, they pulled it back, the other team with three minutes to go with the trade deadline. (A source close to the Warriors said this was a deal that would have sent Antawn Jamison, who has one year remaining on his contract worth 15 million, and Anthony Parker, who is expiring after this season, to Golden State)
Q: I know there was something with Nate (Robinson)A: That was a separate trade. We agreed to do a deal with Boston, where they were going to give us Nate and a first-round pick for Brandan Wright, and they were going to flip Brandan Wright into another deal. I agreed to it, for sure. But they pulled it back, and they obviously went and did the Oklahoma City deal (in which center Kendrick Perkins and Robinson were sent to Oklahoma City in exchange for Nenad Krstic, Jeff Green, a 2012 first-round pick and cash).

We had a deal beyond that one that wouldve made us much better for our bench. Two starters on another team that wouldve come off our bench (hes referring to Jamison and Parker). It wouldve made us quite a bit better in the near term. In the end, it got pulled away. I wouldve been the only team to use expirings to make our team better, because no one did those deals. We were ready to go, but you cant control those teams entirely. Theres 29 teams, and its a zero-sum game.

Q: What was the (trade deadline) day like for you? Are you on speaker phone with Larry all day? How involved were you?A: Yeah, Im extremely involved with our entire basketball group. The last three days, Im almost locked in a room. I was on a phone most of the time back and forth and in the office (in Oakland). We were very, very intense about it. We tried to do a deal that would make us better, that fit within our longer-term strategy. In the end, it didnt work, and Im not that upset by it. It wouldve made us better in the near-term.

Those other players (Jamison and Parker) were going to expire next year, when I think theres a great free agent class. I wouldve been moving it forward by one year and making us better. And it wouldve been after the CBA, too, which wouldve helped. But the fact that it didnt happen is not the end of the world as far as Im concerned, because we now have salaries coming off at the end of the year, will be at 48 million (on the salary cap) going into next year. And we could be lower, because we have players who we could move. If we decide to trade (center Andris) Biedrins, as an example. We dont know yet. Thats 9 million (per season for the next there seasons, including a player option for 2013-14). So we could put ourselves in a position where we have a lot of room. My goal obviously is to address the major concern, which is (a lack of) inside presence.

Q: Did the trade you almost pulled off address that need at all?A: Not really. That would not have addressed the big center position.

Q: Were you adding to the backcourt?A: Yes, I want to add to the backcourt. I want a better bench. I need an inside presence offensively and defensively. We dont have anybody to throw the ball to, and we dont have anybody to stop anyone coming down the lane. Thats the truth. And the other thing is our bench is not strong enough. We want to have a big guard, whos a defensively-oriented guard ideally. Kirk Hinrich (who was traded from Washington to Atlanta at the deadline) was discussed, as an example. He wouldve been a very good defensive player and added to our very good offensive backcourt.

Q: Did you get close at all?A: Yeah, we were right in there. Thats a third situation (the Warriors were involved in). But we couldnt match that offer. Again, it was a first round draft pick and we didnt have it. We dont have any first-round draft pick for 2012, so that means you cant trade your 2011 or 2013. Youre hamstrung because you cant trade a pick until 2014.

Q: Switching topics on you here. What do you make of the Kings potential move to Anaheim and does that excite you in terms of penetrating the market in Sacramento if the Kings leave?A: Im just going to wait until I hear the discussion at the Board of Governors meeting (on April 14-15). You could argue that its a good thing if they left because wed have all of Northern California, but you could also argue that its a bad thing because it sets a precedent for a team moving into another teams market that they dont want. The Lakers and Clippers dont want them (a source says the Board of Governors vote for the extension of the March 1 relocation deadline was 27-2, with the Lakers and Clippers the only dissenting votes).

Q: The whole story did make me think of you, because the San Jose discussion is out there. A: Its out there, but I dont think its ever likely to happen.

Q: The league has definitively told me that there are no territorial rights, but Ive heard you talk about them. Whats your understanding of that?A: There are territorial rights. Seventy-five miles. The issue is they can be overturned by the majority vote of the owners.

Q: The league says otherwise. A: Thats not true. Theres a 75-mile rule. Thats the fact, but it can be overturned so you decide how you want to refer to that. We just paid the largest price ever paid nominally for a team, and for us to have a (he pauses). First of all, why would anyone want to do it? Anyone whos smart wouldnt want to pay a huge number - and it would be a huge number - to go put a team in San Jose and have now half the market. Why would you do that? And if youre the people who bid before, as an example, why would you pay all that money when you couldve just bought the Warriors. - or half the Warriors.

I would not pay the price I paid, and say I was going to share the Bay Area market with someone. No way.

Q: Where does your TV rights deal rank?A: I renegotiated my local media rights. We have a deal that now matches the size of the market. Were the sixth largest market, and I think were roughly the sixth-largest team (in terms of TV rights).

E-mail Sam at amick.sam@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @sam_amick or Facebook at http:www.facebook.comamick.sam!amick.sam

Melancon wastes Blach's gem, Giants fall to Padres in 12 on Myers' homer

Melancon wastes Blach's gem, Giants fall to Padres in 12 on Myers' homer

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wil Myers hit a three-run homer in the top of the 12th inning to send the San Diego Padres past the San Francisco Giants 5-2 on Sunday.

Myers' seventh home run and second in two games came on a 1-0 fastball from reliever George Kontos (0-2). Cory Spangenberg singled against Kontos leading off the inning, and Erick Aybar singled two batters later.

Hector Sanchez, who played parts of five seasons with the Giants, had a pinch-hit, two-run homer off San Francisco closer Mark Melancon in the ninth to send the game to extra innings.

Sanchez turned on a 1-1 cut fastball over the heart of the plate for his first home run of the season and third career pinch-hit homer.

It was Melancon's second blown save in seven chances.

Sanchez represented the tying run after shortstop Eduardo Nunez booted Luis Sardinas' leadoff grounder for an error.

Ryan Buchter (2-1) pitched two shutout innings for the Padres. Jose Torres worked a scoreless 12th for his first save.

Melancon's flop followed a full meltdown by the Giants' bullpen Saturday, when the Padres tagged San Francisco relievers for 11 runs in three innings of a 12-4 win that included Myers' three-run homer.

Giants starter Ty Blach pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, retiring 10 of his last 11 batters in his second start for San Francisco since taking injured ace Madison Bumgarner's spot in the rotation. Bumgarner is expected to miss three months with a separated left (pitching) shoulder he sustained in a dirt-bike crash.

The Giants, who were hitting a league-worst .217 against lefties going into Sunday, took a 2-0 lead against southpaw Clayton Richard, who pitched 5 1/3 innings of six-hit ball.

Joe Panik, who was hit by a pitch leading off the fourth, scored on Blach's sacrifice fly. Michael Morse doubled in Hunter Pence in the fifth.

The Padres have won 12 of 16 games against the Giants dating to last season.

San Francisco (9-17) has the National League's worst record and is 39-59 since going into last year's All-Star break 24 games over .500 with the best record in the majors.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Padres: RHP Jarred Cosart, on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, tentatively plans to pitch for Class A Lake Elsinore on a rehab assignment Tuesday, manager Andy Green said. Cosart will throw three innings or about 45-50 pitches.

Giants: RHP Neil Ramirez was designated for assignment and the Giants called up RHP Bryan Morris from Triple-A Sacramento. . CF Denard Span, on the disabled list with a right shoulder injury, tentatively plans to take batting practice in Los Angeles on Monday.

UP NEXT:
Padres: After an off day, RHP Trevor Cahill (1-2, 4.50 ERA) will pitch the home series opener against Colorado on Tuesday. Cahill is 5-6 with a 4.44 ERA in his career against the Rockies.

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto (3-1, 5.10) starts the series opener against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Monday. The two-time All-Star gave up three runs in six innings vs. the Dodgers last week and was 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA against them last season.

A's have their work cut out as they welcome back Sonny, Rajai

A's have their work cut out as they welcome back Sonny, Rajai

HOUSTON — If the A’s eventually want to return to the American League West mountaintop, they got a good look at the team they’ll have to conquer.

The Astros boast one of the majors’ most talented and athletic rosters, with enough of a youthful core to suggest they’ll be battling for division supremacy for years to come. They took two of three from Oakland at Minute Maid Park, capped by Sunday’s 7-2 decision in which left-hander Dallas Keuchel held the A’s to just three hits over 7 2/3 innings.

The loss ended a season-opening stretch in which the A’s played 22 of their first 25 against AL West foes. They saw every team in the division at least once, going 9-13 in that stretch and 11-14 overall for the month of April.

It’s tough to glean too much from one month of play, but the Astros (16-9) so far are living up to the hype that stems from several notable offseason additions they made. They hold a three-game lead over the second-place Los Angeles Angels, with Oakland and Texas both five games back and Seattle 5 1/2 back.

Before the A’s bother worrying about who they have to knock off at the top, there are baby steps to conquer.

They need to generate some consistent offense, which has been lacking in their 1-5 start to this nine-game road trip. With that in mind, they’ll gladly welcome back center fielder Rajai Davis, who is expected to return from a strained left hamstring and rejoin the lineup Tuesday in Minnesota.

Also Tuesday, Sonny Gray will make his 2017 debut after missing the first four weeks with a strained lat muscle in his right side. One of the primary April storylines for the A’s involved the players they lost to injury. Now, they at least draw some optimism from the ones they’ll welcome back.

“We need to get these guys back,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve been leaning on (backup center fielder) Jaff Decker a little harder than we need to. You get Raj back doing his thing at the top of the lineup and get your No. 1 pitcher back, hopefully this is a trend on an upward swing as far as getting players back, as opposed to losing them like we have been.”

Jesse Hahn, who took Sunday’s loss, could eventually be out of a rotation spot with Gray’s return. But that decision gets delayed with fellow starter Sean Manaea having just joined the 10-day disabled list with a strained shoulder.

Hahn was solid Sunday, going six innings and allowing four runs (two earned). But he got a taste of the diverse ways that Houston can beat a pitcher. The Astros have speed, as they showed in the first inning when George Springer beat out an infield single and scored all the way from first on Carlos Correa’s double.

They also have run producers up and down the batting order. Evan Gattis, who clubbed 32 homers last season, hit seventh Sunday and drove an RBI double to left that just missed being a two-run homer.

“One through nine, it’s a solid lineup over there,” Hahn said. “You can’t take any pitches off, any at-bats off. You’ve almost got to treat every guy the same or they can hurt you.”

Catcher Josh Phegley says the A’s have a good read on the rest of the division and the challenge that sits before him and his teammates.

“We’ve seen the teams we’re gonna face most of the year. We get a feel for their bullpen, some of the subs they make during the game,” he said. “I like the way our team stacks up against everyone else.”

But the A’s have their work cut out. Last year, they were 13-12 at the end of April, just 1 1/2 games out of first place before eventually finishing in the cellar. As they begin this May, they are three games under .500 and already five games out.

Help is on the way with the return of Gray and Davis. Now the A’s need to parlay that into some victories.