Joe Lacob

Joe Lacob: “We Can Reimagine The Next Dynasty”

Rather than gearing up for another deep playoff run as the 2019/20 season enters its home stretch, the Warriors‘ decision-makers already have their sights set on this summer’s draft and the free agent period. While the team would rather be in the mix for another title, Warriors owner Joe Lacob tells Mark Medina of USA Today that the club is making the most of the opportunity to regroup and evaluate the roster going forward.

“The great thing about this is we can reimagine the next dynasty,” Lacob told Medina during All-Star weekend. “I think it’s been a good year for us to take stock with where we’re at and try to recreate.”

At 12-43, the Warriors are well out of playoff contention and approached this month’s trade deadline as sellers. Having given up six players, including D’Angelo Russell, Golden State received Andrew Wiggins, the Timberwolves’ top-three protected 2021 first-round pick, and five future second-round selections. The club also slipped below the luxury tax line, avoiding a more punitive repeater-taxpayer penalty.

Replacing Russell with Wiggins should give Golden State’s roster better balance when injured stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson return. Avoiding the tax and re-stocking their collection of draft picks will give the Warriors more options during the offseason as president of basketball operations Bob Myers and the front office weigh potential roster upgrades.

The Dubs also have a trade exception worth $17MM+ and are on track to secure a top-five draft pick. Lacob is optimistic that all those assets will be more than enough to help the Warriors return to contention.

“You add one guy and it can change everything,” Lacob told Medina. “We already happen to have two of the greatest shooters of all time. Look at the games. We’ve only been losing by six or eight points. But add those two guys, and we’re already pretty good. I think Wiggins is going to help a lot.”

Lacob Talks Wiggins Trade, Tax, Warriors’ Outlook

In the days and weeks leading up to last week’s trade deadline, there was some skepticism that the Warriors would actually trade D’Angelo Russell. Even though the point guard didn’t necessarily look like a long-term fit in Golden State, it seemed likely that the club would want to wait at least until the offseason to fully weigh the trade market for Russell. That would have given him a chance to play alongside Stephen Curry, who is aiming to return from his hand injury in March.

However, the Warriors decided to act sooner rather than later, sending Russell to the Timberwolves for a package that included Andrew Wiggins, a first-round pick, and an opportunity to get out of luxury-tax territory this season. Speaking to Tim Kawakami of The Athletic about the deal, Warriors owner Joe Lacob suggested the club didn’t think it could’ve done better if it waited until the summer.

“We got what we wanted,” Lacob said. “I think if I would’ve bet before the trade deadline, I probably would’ve said we would’ve re-evaluated in the summer, gone through the whole year. But we were fortunate. We got what we wanted, and we did it.”

Lacob offered up a few more interesting comments about the trade and the Warriors’ plans going forward. If you have an Athletic subscription, the conversation is worth checking out in full, but here are some of the highlights:

On the deal being a win/win for the Warriors and Timberwolves:

“Anybody who can’t see that this is a great deal for us, I don’t know what they’re thinking. You can sit and talk about what his salary is, but (Wiggins) had the same salary as D-Lo. They’re both good players. They’re different players. You can question whether this is a better fit; we think it is, as much as I liked D-Lo. He’s a really good player. And I think it’s good for him, too. So it’s a fair, good thing for both teams.”

On why the Warriors wanted to get below the tax line this season:

“Here’s the deal: When you are competing for a championship, I’ve always said we’re going to pay the tax. … But when you’re not winning this year and you’ve got … as good as those players were for us, they’re (expiring contracts after this season), it just didn’t make sense. So I think getting out of the tax so we could get out of the repeater (tax) next year … it’s not about the money. It’s more about the opportunity this summer to flush out our roster that’s the best possible roster for next year.”

On whether the Warriors will be willing to use their mid-level exception and $17MM+ trade exception in the summer, increasing payroll well beyond the tax threshold:

“Yes, I’m talking about mid-level exception, I’m talking about trade exception, any of the possibilities. Doesn’t mean we will, doesn’t mean we’ll be able to, but we have the opportunity, we have the chance to do that now.

“… It’s going to be the highest payroll we’ve ever had next year. We know that. The question is how high. If there’s a trade-exception (deal) that we really want, that’s worth it, let’s consider it. Mid-level exception? Very likely to use. The first pick in the draft, if we were to get that? With luxury tax, (that contract would be) huge.

“Really, the emphasis is on next year. The next two years, our window — Steph’s last two years under contract, before we hopefully bring him back again — we need to field the best possible team we can. That was the emphasis.”

Warriors Never Considered Not Re-Signing Klay Thompson

The torn ACL that Klay Thompson suffered in the NBA Finals didn’t give Golden State any second thoughts about keeping him in free agency, CEO Joe Lacob said on the Warriors Insider Podcast (relayed by Dustin Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area).

An agreement on Thompson’s new five-year, $190MM max contract was announced shortly after the start of free agency on July 1. He will miss most of the first season of that deal, as his injury is projected to sideline him until February or March.

“There was no doubt in my mind, whatsoever,” Lacob said. “I, and we, want Klay to be here for a long time. He’s one of my favorite players in the world.”

Thompson suffered the injury late in Game 6 as the Warriors were clinging to a three-point lead. He landed awkwardly on a dunk attempt and grabbed his knee. Golden State wound up losing the game and the series.

“ACLs … not good, OK we know that,” Lacob said. “But stuff happens and that’s an injury that now people know how to manage. Plenty of people have come back from ACLs and done pretty well. Honestly, (not re-signing him) didn’t even remotely cross my mind.” 

This is the first serious injury that Thompson has experienced since joining the Warriors as the 11th pick in the 2011 draft. He has appeared in at least 73 games every season and contributes on both ends of the court, averaging 19.5 PPG over his career and frequently taking the toughest defensive matchup.

“Personally, I think he’s the greatest two-guard — I’m old school. I know it’s positionless basketball, but I go by positions. To me, he’s the greatest two-guard on the planet,” Lacob said. “… He’s a two-way player. He’s got great size and he’s an incredible shooter and he plays hard. What more can you ask for than Klay Thompson? Why would you not want Klay Thompson?” 

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Looney, Cousins, Livingston

The Warriors expect Klay Thompson to be sidelined nine to 10 months with the torn ACL in his left knee that he suffered last night, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). That would put his projected return sometime from mid-March to mid-April, possibly late in the season but definitely in time for next year’s playoffs if there are no unexpected setbacks.

Golden State will remain Thompson’s first option in free agency this summer, but he could listen to other teams if the Warriors don’t offer a max contract, sources tell Haynes. It’s not clear if Thompson’s injury will have any effect on what the organization plans to do.

Thompson’s was hurt in the third quarter of Game 6 when he landed awkwardly on his left leg after being fouled on a fast break. After being helped off the court, he returned to make two free throws, but wasn’t able to play any more. Thompson didn’t realize the severity at the time, telling coach Steve Kerr“Just a two-minute rest and I’ll be ready,” relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

There’s more Warriors news to pass along:

  • Re-signing Kevon Looney and possibly DeMarcus Cousins will be priorities this summer, Vardon adds. Looney will be looking for a significant raise on the one-year, $1.6MM contract he had this season, while Cousins could receive as much as $6.4MM from the Warriors via his Non-Bird rights if there’s not a strong demand for him in free agency. Cousins told Anthony Slater of The Athletic that he’s “open” to coming back (Twitter link).
  • The Warriors’ fighting spirit may have sunk their future, Slater notes in a full story. If Golden State had lost in the conference semifinals after Kevin Durant‘s injury in Game 6 or hadn’t pulled out a close victory in Game 2 in Toronto, the catastrophic events of the past two games never would have happened.
  • Veteran guard Shaun Livingston will seriously consider retirement, but said he could “possibly” return for another year, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Livingston, who will turn 34 this summer, has just a $2MM guarantee on his $7,692,308 contract for next season. It won’t become fully guaranteed until June 30.
  • Owner Joe Lacob wasn’t ready to address free agency questions last night, but admitted that he talked with GM Bob Myers about what the Warriors do next, relays Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. “We’ll have to assess and then talk,” Lacob said. “Obviously, we still have a very good team. And a great organization. So we’ll take it one step at a time.”

Warriors Notes: Durant, Thompson, Cousins, Ponds

Kevin Durant‘s agent insists that the Warriors‘ star remains undecided about what he’s going to do in free agency, relays Chris Iseman of USA Today. Speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s The Future of Everything Festival, Rich Kleiman said Durant won’t begin thinking about his decision until after the NBA Finals.

“That is 100 percent undecided,” he said. “I’m waiting on Kevin. That’s the truth. I think there’s a feeling that this thing is like war games and everybody is playing chess years out. But when somebody gets to the level of basketball that he’s at, you can’t juggle focus like that. There’s so many things he’s juggling too. He’s not scripting his future while he’s playing the way he plays and practicing the way he’s practicing.”

There’s still no timetable for when Durant might return after suffering a strained right calf in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals. He has eight days until the championship series begins.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Owner Joe Lacob is prepared to spend big this summer to keep the team together, but DeMarcus Cousins may not be part of that equation, writes Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. Lacob indicated he will make max offers to Durant and fellow free agent Klay Thompson, even though those would push the Warriors to record luxury tax levels. However, Kawakami doesn’t believe the team can compete financially for Cousins, who will only be eligible for a 20% raise on this year’s $5.337MM contract if he stays in Golden State. He notes that management seems likely to keep unrestricted free agent Kevon Looney and restricted free agent Jordan Bell and is confident they can be an effective center tandem along with Damian Jones. The Warriors will probably have the option of adding Andrew Bogut to the roster again next March when his Australian season ends.
  • Health updates on Durant and Cousins are expected Thursday, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. The Warriors will resume practicing tomorrow after taking two days off following the Game 4 win over Portland. Thursday will mark one week since Durant and Cousins were last evaluated.
  • St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds had a workout scheduled with Golden State today, according to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog. Ponds, who also had a session with the Bulls this week, is projected as a late second-rounder, but believes he can move up. “I think I’m late-first round,” he said. “And that’s my goal, what I’m aiming for.”

Warriors Owner Vows To Re-Sign Klay Thompson

Warriors owner Joe Lacob seems prepared to do whatever it takes to re-sign shooting guard and impending free agent Klay Thompson. Following the Warriors’ Game 6 victory over Houston in the Western Conference semifinals, Lacob told ESPN’s Nick Friedell he wants Thompson and point guard Stephen Curry “as part of our organization forever.”

A report surfaced this week indicating that there’s mutual interest in getting a deal done.  Lacob will have to pay a giant price to retain Thompson, who has stated that he expects a max contract. He could make $189MM with Golden State over the next five years if he’s not named to an All-NBA team or sign elsewhere for four years and $140.6MM. If he does gain that honor, Thompson would be eligible for a $221MM super-max contract.

Curry’s contract is guaranteed for three more seasons and will get paid $40.2MM, $43MM and $45.8MM during that span.

Lacob would have to pay major luxury tax penalties if the Warriors re-sign both Thompson and Kevin Durant, or in the unlikely scenario that Durant opts in for $31.5MM next season.

Lacob said his desire to retain Thompson goes well beyond the court.

“I have a special bond with him. I always have,” the owner said. “He’s the first player, since I bought the team, that we drafted. The very first one. And I just have always felt an incredible attachment. People make fun of me a little bit — I always say I love Klay. … There’s something about him, I have a very special relationship with him.”

Thompson scored 27 points in the Game 6 clinching win over the Rockets.

Warriors Owner Not Stressing Over Durant’s Future

Warriors owner Joe Lacob isn’t stressed out about Kevin Durant‘s impending free agency, as he told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.

Lacob says the franchise will do everything in its power to retain Durant, who is expected to decline his $31.5MM player option in order to re-enter the free agent market. But Golden State’s owner isn’t having any sleepless nights over the possibility of Durant bolting.

“I honestly don’t even think about it,” Lacob said. “I don’t. Because there’s nothing I can do about it. Zero. He has earned the right to be a free agent. He’s going to make the choice that feels best for him. And it’s our job to, when the season’s over, convince him that the right decision is to be a Warrior for life.”

Durant could sign with Golden State for five years and approximately $221MM or receive a max of four years and $164MM elsewhere. Lacob believes the extra money and built-in selling points will be all the incentives the superstar forward needs to re-sign.

“Look, we can pay him the most money. We have a great team. We have great coaching,” he said. “We have great fans. I don’t think anyone can match us, when you take everything into consideration, if that’s the way you’re thinking about it. And he has a chance to win — and let’ s hope it goes well this year — a chance to win more championships. I mean, it could be legendary. If he stays here … I don’t know that you get this kind of opportunity very often. So I would hope that he thinks that and accepts that and decides he wants to stay.”

If Durant leaves, Lacob will harbor no ill feelings.

“I’m not going to be mad at him, either way,” he said. “Whatever he decides to do, he decides to do. And I’ll probably be a Kevin Durant fan no matter what. I’m not going to be emotional about it. There’s no point.”

Western Notes: Lacob, Exum, Thomas, George

Warriors owner Joe Lacob is unfazed by the spotty play of his team, which he expressed to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. Golden State has gone 4-6 in its last 10 games, including a home loss to the last-place Suns on Sunday. “We have the best team in the world. Why wouldn’t I be confident?” Lacob said. “I think we have a great team, great talent. In the NBA, talent usually wins. … Guys usually figure it out. We have an intelligent group. As long as we stay healthy. That’s the caveat. But I’m confident and believe in our team.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Jazz backup point guard Dante Exum returned to action on Monday after missing the previous 25 games due to a sprained ankle and bone bruise. Coach Quin Snyder is confident Exum can reestablish himself as a rotation piece, a feeling he relayed to Aaron Falk of the team’s website and other media members. “We realize he hasn’t played in two months, but it will be good to have him back out there and start to work through some of the rust,” Snyder said. “The longer you’re out, the more difficult it is to pick up where you left off. But there’s no reason he won’t get back to that.”
  • Nuggets point guard Isaiah Thomas has Monday, March 18 circled on his calendar, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. He will play against Boston for the first time since he was traded to Cleveland prior to last season. “I can’t wait,” Thomas said. “That’s going to be a special moment for me. Even if they don’t do a video or whatever, just being back in that city and that arena is going to be unbelievable. I had the best basketball moments of my career in that arena. Boston’s always going to be in my heart, no matter what.”
  • Thunder forward Paul George was fined $25K by the league over the weekend, according to an ESPN report. He criticized the officiating after the Thunder’s 118-110 loss to the Clippers on Friday. “It’s just bad officiating,” George said after the game. “I’m sorry, just bad officiating. We don’t get a fair whistle. We haven’t gotten a fair whistle all year.”

Klay On Warriors’ Future: “Hopefully, I’ll Be A Part Of It”

The Warriors are committed to keeping their championship core together even if it leads to unprecedented financial implications. Owner Joe Lacob recently declared that the Dubs “can do whatever [they] want” in terms of finances and that cost concerns won’t be the reason the team doesn’t “stay great” going forward.

Klay Thompson, who will be a free agent at the season, is encouraged by Golden State’s stance and the commitment to remaining a championship contender.

“That’s good to hear, I know Joe’s competitive. He wants to win more than anything. And he will put together the best team to do that. Hopefully, I’ll be a part of it,” Thompson said (via Mark Medina of The Mercury News).

Thompson is widely expected to land a max deal this summer and while Lacob is fully aware that rival teams will attempt to pry him from the Warriors, the team owner is “not really worried about it.”

“All we can do is be the best organization we can, treat players the best we can, provide the best environment, have the best management, have a great arena. I mean, all the things we do,” Lacob said in an interview with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. “The culture of the organization, I think, speaks for itself. Then the chips fall where they may.”

The owner added that the organization plans to be aggressive in free agency regardless of whether Kevin Durant and Thompson stick around.“Nobody’s going to outspend us. Nobody’s going to outwork us,” he added. “…I know what [our free agents] should do, which is stay with us, but I can’t say what they’re going to do, so they’ll do what they’re going to do. And we’ll have contingency plans; if somebody leaves, we’ll do what we’ve gotta do.”

Warriors Notes: Luxury Tax, Chase Center, Free Agents

Re-signing pending free agents Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to substantial, long-term contracts would have major financial implications for the Warriors – upward of $300MM per year, potentially – but franchise owner Joe Lacob doesn’t think luxury tax and salary costs are the issue heading forward, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic writes.

We can do whatever we want [financially],” Lacob said. “And you should expect that that’s not going to be a reason this team … doesn’t stay great going forward. We have the capital to pay our players what they deserve. And we will.

Kawakami notes that this is a change in tone from what we’ve heard from the team’s ownership group in the past. There may be several factors responsible for that, including the “unprecedented influx of cash” that the team’s new stadium is expected to bring. The Warriors will begin playing at the Chase Center next fall.

There’s more from the Bay Area tonight:

  • The Warriors are in somewhat of a holding pattern until Durant makes his decision whether to remain with the franchise or move elsewhere, Kawakami notes in the above-mentioned article. These dynamics may have put Anthony Davis just out of reach for the team. “The best thing for us to do is keep our great players together as long as we can, as long as we should, and then develop on the margins,” Lacob said.
  • With free agency looming and the Knicks posturing to be a major player, New York appears to at the very least be an option for Durant. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringers writes that the forward has wavered between staying or leaving all season.
  • Since the blockbuster trade that freed up two max contract slots in the Knicks’ books last Thursday, Durant has been quieter than usual, Mark Medina of The Mercury News writes. Durant has avoided post-game interviews after each of Golden State’s last two matchups.