Warriors owner Joe Lacob, who was known to be a fan of center James Wiseman, said in a conversation with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic that it was “very hard” to trade the big man at last month’s deadline, suggesting that the team “might very well regret that one” down the road.
“But as much as I love the guy, I can’t overrule what our basketball ops and our coaches and our players felt was the right thing to do,” Lacob said. “So it’s a consensus thing. We’re ‘we,’ we’re not ‘me.’ And we’re going to do what the best thing is and we felt it would improve our team short term and kind of went for it for Gary (Payton II).
Lacob added that it took some convincing for him to get on board with the idea of sending Wiseman to Detroit and admitted that he’s keeping an eye on how the former No. 2 pick performs with the Pistons.
“I think James is a really good young player and we’re not going to get many opportunities to draft a young guy like that again,” Lacob said. “And he really didn’t … let’s be honest, he didn’t really have a chance; it’s partially his fault, partially bad luck, partially our fault for not playing him enough. But we’re not getting an opportunity to get a big talent like that with size very often. I mean, it was a very hard decision for the organization, to be quite honest.”
Kawakami’s interview with Lacob included a few more intriguing comments from the Warriors’ owner, including his thoughts on how the negotiations with the Trail Blazers for Payton played out.
The conversation is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber, but here are a few highlights:
On how upset the Warriors were when Payton failed his physical following the trade:
“Very. … I think we all were. We were shocked. Because, you know, on the one hand, he was playing (for Portland), which would indicate he was healthy. But when you ask someone … they only have minutes to make these trades at the trade deadline. It’s kind of an honor code here. Forget what’s in the records, which you see later.
“I think we felt that they were disingenuous.”
On whether being able to reacquire Payton was the only reason the Warriors traded Wiseman:
“No. I don’t think (when) we started out we thought he’d be available, to be honest. He was expensive last year, that contract, we couldn’t really afford it. But given what we did with Wiseman, we took some money off the books. Our biggest weakness, you could argue, has been perimeter defense. So we felt it was a good move to make.
“One thing about (Payton) that I did like a lot, assuming he’s healthy and when he’s healthy, he knows how to play with our team. And the coaches know how to coach him. So he’s going to come in right away, there’s no, like … all these guys make these trades with 22 games to go, and I’m not going to name names, but it’s hard to integrate somebody who hasn’t been on your team. That guy’s been on our team. That’s a big advantage.”
On the Warriors’ supposed “two-timeline plan” (of veteran stars and young prospects):
“There’s only one timeline. I don’t know where this two-timelines thing comes from. There’s one timeline. You have a roster that you try to put together given financial constraints and given what’s available and what you can get. And when you have the salary structure at the top of the roster like we do, which is huge, the bottom or lower half of the roster has to be either minimums or young players. Either way, they’re smaller salaries.”