Steinmetz: With NFL back, NBA should feel pressure

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Steinmetz: With NFL back, NBA should feel pressure

July 25, 2011

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Matt Steinmetz
CSNBayArea.com

The NFL lockout appears to be over. Which is bad news for the NBA.It's bad for a couple of reasons. First, the NFL showed that despite significant differences between owners and players, the two sides came together -- and best of all, no regular-season games will be missed. The NBA is going to have to prove it can do that, and so far there are few indications it can.Or even wants to.
Secondly, the jump-starting of the NFL season means all eyes will be on baseball and football for the foreseeable future, and the NBA is out of sight and out of mind. The longer it's in the background, the less and less people will care.Conventional wisdom remains that the NBA is going to miss part or all of the 2011-12 season because of the lockout. That's a very dangerous game for basketball's owners and players. And let's make one thing clear: The NBA is not the NFL.If there's a sport that can survive missed games or even a missed season, it's the NFL. All professional sports must answer to the NFL -- at least in this country. Football is king and that's just the way it is. That the league's sides got something done in a timely manner proves there is at least an acknowledgment of fans.The NBA appears to be heading down a very different road. There are indications that owners are willing to sacrifice a season in order to revamp the system. But if the NBA misses a season, it should be prepared for a backlash of significant proportions.Calling the NBA a niche sport is a little extreme. But believing pro basketball can and will thrive regardless of what happens during this dispute is a gutsy -- and perhaps foolish -- assumption. You see the attendance -- or lack thereof -- in places such as Charlotte, Sacramento, Milwaukee New Jersey, New Orleans, Atlanta, etc?Those teams don't draw, and it will get worse if this thing is protracted. A long lockout would benefit the owners. But they should realize that even if they make gains in the collective bargaining agreement they're going to take losses in public relations and marketing, and that will affect the bottom line.NBA owners believe they need to turn the system upside-down and do it now. But if they do that, it's going to be a while before the NBA gets right-side up.

Why are Warriors willing to pay for picks? Lacob: 'If you just do the math...'

Why are Warriors willing to pay for picks? Lacob: 'If you just do the math...'

On Thursday night, the Warriors saw an opportunity and they struck.

Golden State paid the Bulls $3.5 million (the max amount allowed) for the rights to Jordan Bell.

After making the selection, Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group asked Lacob: "This is the fourth time you’ve bought a pick, the first two didn’t work out so great. How easy is it for you to just keep doing this?"

"Easy," Lacob answered. "We want to always be incredibly aggressive and get better. We only have a few players under contract, as Bob (Myers) pointed out.

"We tried really hard. It was really hard this year. Harder than it sounds."

Last year, the Warriors entered the draft without a pick but paid the Bucks $2.4 million for the rights to Pat McCaw -- the 38th pick.

This year, the Warriors entered the draft without a pick but acquired Bell -- the 38th pick.

"It’s amazing that we were able to do it, second year in a row," Lacob said. "Thirty-eight’s a lucky number, I guess."

After the Warriors took a 2-0 lead in the Finals, ESPN's Darren Rovell reported that sweeping the Cavs (and not at least getting a third home game in the series) would cost the Warriors over $12 million.

Golden State did not sweep Cleveland, and did get a Game 5 at Oracle Arena.

In fact, a fan reportedly paid $133,000 for two floor seats.

Making the extra money did not impact the Warriors' decision to buy a draft pick.

"We would do it regardless," Lacob told Kawakami. "We just think that it’s money well spent if you just do the math.

"If you are good at picking players, it’s just a lot cheaper way to get a player than otherwise. How else are you going to do it?"

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

The Warriors have rest of NBA scrambling, shuffling, trading, posturing

The Warriors have rest of NBA scrambling, shuffling, trading, posturing

OAKLAND -- For the Warriors, the NBA Draft was about two things: Waiting for the right time to buy the rights to a player they love and being entertained, for the fourth consecutive day, by the earnest efforts of the league’s underclass.

Not that they would put it quite so impolitely.

“It’s a competitive league. All we do is try to get better,” president/general manager Bob Myers said late Thursday night, insisting that the Warriors are too immersed in their own challenges to look down their noses at the other 29 teams.

But the truth is inescapable. This is the week that touched off the flailing of franchises feeling particularly feeble and futile in the wake of Warriors destructive run through the postseason.

The Warriors were 16-1, the best record in NBA postseason history. Their average win margin, 13.5 points, is No. 2 all time. They demolished LeBron James and the Cavaliers in The Finals, after the Cavs had annihilated all comers in the Eastern Conference. Part III of The Trilogy was by far the most lopsided.

And the Warriors followed that up by buying a second-round pick to get, by most accounts, a first-round talent in Oregon’s Jordan Bell.

[POOLE: Warriors stay ready, strike gold amid the 2017 NBA Draft scramble]

The rest of the league is determined to fight back and, therefore, is scrambling and shuffling and trading and posturing in an effort to close the gap on the champs. Those teams, staring up at the Warriors, have to do something to feel productive today while trying to keep their fans from giving up on tomorrow.

No team did more draft-night hustling than their neighbors in Sacramento, who after using their No. 5 pick to select the player they coveted most, Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, traded the No. 10 overall pick to Portland for Nos. 15 and 20, choosing North Carolina forward Justin Jackson and Duke forward Harry Giles.

The 76ers chose Markelle Fultz, believing he is the final piece to assembling the best young team in the East. The folks in Philly, who avoided the team for nearly a decade, suddenly are on board, buying 14,000 season tickets -- a franchise record.

The Lakers grabbed UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, who will generate an enthusiasm missing at Staples Center since the best days of Kobe Bryant.

The Timberwolves and Bulls completed a major trade, with Minnesota getting All-Star guard Jimmy Butler in exchange for guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, with the teams also swapping draft picks.

This all followed several moves made earlier this week, beginning with the Cavaliers dumping general manager David Griffin precisely seven days after being run over by the Warriors in The Finals.

Griffin’s dismissal preceded by a day the Hawks trading once-imposing Dwight Howard to the Hornets, as well as the Lakers dealing D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets for All-Star center and Stanford product Brook Lopez.

Meanwhile, as the Warriors examine their various free-agent contingencies, so much more is percolating around the league:

-Trade talk swirls about Pacers All-Star forward Paul George, who is destined to get out of Indiana, perhaps sooner than later.

-The Cavs are searching, so far without much success, for a team willing to engage in serious negotiations regarding power forward Kevin Love.

-Knicks top executive Phil Jackson, committed to a mission of unknown purpose, announced he’s now willing to shop 21-year-old wunderkind Kristaps Porzingis.

-The Spurs are ready to move on from LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green.

-The Clippers -- already with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and JJ Redick set to become free agents -- reportedly are willing to ship out DeAndre Jordan.

-The Rockets seemingly are ready to swap anybody not named James Harden.

-And the Celtics also are known to be on the market, though that is not unusual when Danny Ainge is sitting in the corner office.

The Warriors are the cause for such a mad frenzy, and the sight of their competitors making mad dashes toward their respective futures is the effect. They are two cuts above and that’s tough to take in a league of men who may not mind losing but do not care to be humiliated.

“We never looked at it as far as catching anybody, or people catching up,” Myers said. “Our job is to try to get better each day. And whether that’s through personnel, coaching, developing our players or us in the front office learning and growing.

“I guess I don’t view us as ahead of everyone,” he added. “I know it’s been mentioned by everybody else, but once you start thinking that, you’re in trouble. You’ve to start believing and keep pushing.”