Joe Lacob

Stein’s Latest: Timberwolves, Ujiri, Simmons, Lacob, Dragic

Incoming Timberwolves owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore won’t assume majority control of the the franchise from Glen Taylor until 2023, but they’re operating in some ways as if they’re already the team’s primary owners, says Marc Stein of Substack.

Shortly after Gersson Rosas was dismissed this week, Timberwolves reporter Dane Moore suggested (via Twitter) that rumors have circulated for months that Rodriguez and Lore want to bring in a “top-five” front office executive. Stein doesn’t specifically confirm that rumor, but he corroborates it, writing that word circulated at Summer League in August that A-Rod and Lore would have loved to make a run at veteran executive Masai Ujiri, who ultimately re-upped with the Raptors.

While those reports suggest that the Wolves’ new ownership group wants to make a splash, league sources tell Stein that Sachin Gupta is expected to get every chance to impress the team during his time running the basketball operations department. According to Moore (Twitter link), Gupta – whose title is executive VP of basketball operations – doesn’t technically have the “interim” tag attached to his position, an indication that he’ll receive serious consideration for the permanent job.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest NBA roundup:

  • According to Stein, teams around the NBA are skeptical that the Sixers genuinely want to bring back Ben Simmons, viewing Doc Riversmedia comments on Wednesday as an attempt to regain trade leverage rather than a legitimate effort to mend the team’s relationship with Simmons.
  • It may seem odd that Warriors owner Joe Lacob was fined for comments about Simmons that didn’t even mention him by name and made it clear that Golden State isn’t really interested in the Sixers star. However, Stein says the tampering penalty was “as automatic as these ever get,” since there was no doubt Lacob was referring to Simmons, and his comments could be viewed as an attempt to diminish the 25-year-old’s trade value.
  • It doesn’t appear that any deal involving Goran Dragic is imminent. Stein writes that the Raptors want to be as competitive as possible this season, and Dragic can help with those efforts. Toronto also believes that more appealing trade scenarios could arise once the season gets underway and more teams need a point guard due to injuries or underperformance.

Warriors Notes: Wiseman, Player Development, Lacob

James Wiseman‘s inability to participate fully in training camp will hurt the Warriors more than any games he might miss at the start of the season, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. Wiseman’s development is crucial to making the team relevant again, due to his physical gifts that can add an explosive dimension it currently lacks on the interior. Wiseman is expected to participate in individual shooting and other individual on-court activities during camp. His return to full practices will be determined after October 15, when he’s expected to begin full jumping on the surgically repaired knee.

We have more on the Warriors:

  • The team has invested heavily this offseason in player development, as Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area details. The additions of former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson along with Dejan Milojević and Jama Mahlalela were made due their reputations for developing young talent. All three have been on the job since June, Poole adds.
  • Owner Joe Lacob has been fined $50K for comments regarding Ben Simmons, the NBA announced today (via Twitter). The league deemed the comments as a violation of its anti-tampering rules. Lacob said it’s unlikely the team will trade for disgruntled Sixers star.
  • Lacob believes the franchise is on track for another championship, according to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Hopefully, this year, we’ll compete for a championship,” he said. “I think we should. Over the next 4-5 years, I think we should continue that and have a second great decade in a row.”

Warriors’ Owner Suggests Trade For Simmons Unlikely

Multiple reports this offseason have suggested that Sixers star Ben Simmons would like to be traded to a West Coast team, but it doesn’t sound as if the Warriors are looking to pull the trigger on a deal for the three-time All-Star, as Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Chronicle writes.

Simmons spoke to Warriors owner Joe Lacob about the possibility of trading for Simmons, and while Lacob was careful not to mention the 25-year-old by name in an effort to avoid a tampering fine, there was no doubt about which player he was referring to when he discussed a certain “Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Philadelphia.” Lacob said Golden State will always explore avenues to upgrade the roster, but strongly hinted that a trade for Simmons is unlikely.

“In some ways, it doesn’t really fit what we’re doing. He makes a lot of money. And, can he finish games? I don’t know,” Lacob said. “He’s very talented. The problem is: We have Draymond (Green). Draymond and him are very similar in the sense that neither one really shoots and they do a lot of the play-making. That’s one issue. The salary structure is another.”

The Warriors were viewed as a top candidate to make a major trade earlier in the offseason, when they could dangle two 2021 lottery picks in advance of this year’s draft. Once they used those two picks to select Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, a blockbuster deal became less likely for the Dubs, who appear focused on developing their rookies and young center James Wiseman rather than packaging them for a star.

“I like our team,” general manager Bob Myers said, per Simmons. “And I envision that the team we have will be the team that heads into camp and will be the team that starts the season.”

If Golden State isn’t seriously in the running for Simmons, who remains adamant about holding out and forcing a deal, it will take one potential trade partner off the table for the Sixers. However, a number of other suitors have reportedly discussed Simmons with Philadelphia this offseason, including the Timberwolves, Raptors, Spurs, Cavaliers, and Kings, among others.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Lacob, Moody, Larranaga

Prior to the draft, the Warriors’ top players were reportedly urging the front office to make a major deal by using assets such the No. 7 and 14 picks in the draft. Golden State ultimately didn’t make a deal, instead drafting Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.

Majority owner Joe Lacob said it’s “unlikely” will swing a big deal this offseason, Anthony Slater of The Athletic reports. The Warriors don’t want to give up an established star for another one.

“I know this isn’t popular with a lot of people. They think we ought to go get the next star,” Lacob said. “We already have the stars. And we have a payroll that’s — and I’ve said this when I was interviewed before, but nobody listened. It’s very unlikely, I’ve said that we’re not going to trade for anybody that people are expecting. Very unlikely.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • In the same story, Lacob said he’s ecstatic how the draft unfolded. “We’ll probably never have two lottery picks again. If we do, we’ll have a problem,” he said. “The thing that’s most amazing to me is how it worked out. I shouldn’t say where they were on our board, but it’s hard for me not to say it. I’ll just tell you they were both clearly in our top 10. We feel like we got really fortunate on Kuminga. Then with Moody, I think it’s pretty common knowledge we were seriously considering him at seven.”
  • Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson attended Moody’s draft workout, Alex Didion of NBC Sports Bay Area relays. Moody also has the same representative as Draymond Green and they had conversations leading up to the draft.
  • Jay Larranaga is joining Tyronn Lue’s coaching staff with the Clippers, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweetsLarranaga has been Brad Stevens top assistant with the Celtics over the past seven seasons.

Warriors Rumors: Wiseman, Payroll, Oubre, Curry

There’s an expectation among league personnel that the Warriors will consider shopping one or both of their lottery picks if they receive the Timberwolves’ first-round selection in tonight’s lottery, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. However, Fischer says the club has had no serious internal talks about the possibility of trading young center James Wiseman.

Appearing on The TK Show with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, Warriors owner Joe Lacob confirmed that the Dubs aren’t looking to move Wiseman, stating that it’s “very unlikely” the club will entertain offers for the 20-year-old this offseason. While Lacob didn’t close the door entirely on the possibility, he said it would “take a lot” for Golden State to consider such a move, adding that the team would have to be blown away.

Discussing the decision to select Wiseman at No. 2 in last year’s draft over LaMelo Ball, among others, Lacob acknowledged that Ball had a great rookie season in Charlotte, but said that he remains confident Wiseman can be an “All-Star level player,” noting that nothing he saw in 2020/21 diminished that belief.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • In his interview with Kawakami, Lacob repeatedly mentioned the repeater tax penalties facing the Warriors going forward, stressing that it’s impractical for the team to continue increasing its payroll indefinitely. However, he didn’t rule out using Golden State’s taxpayer mid-level exception this offseason, and Fischer says there aren’t internal concerns about the club’s growing tax bill.
  • The Warriors have interest in retaining Kelly Oubre, but a sign-and-trade remains a viable possibility, according to Fischer, who reports that multiple Spurs players seem eager to add Oubre. Fischer also identifies the Mavericks as a team that may have interest in the veteran forward, citing sources who say Dallas approached the Warriors prior to the trade deadline about a deal involving Oubre and Kristaps Porzingis. It’s unclear whether the Mavs’ front office shakeup would affect their level of interest in Oubre, Fischer adds.
  • Asked by Kawakami about the possibility of a Stephen Curry extension this offseason, Lacob declined to speculate on whether a deal will get done, but stated that he expects the two-time MVP to spend the rest of his career with the Warriors, noting that both sides want that to happen.

Warriors’ Myers Talks Curry, Payroll, Oubre, Draft

The Warriors and Stephen Curry discussed a contract extension last offseason, when Curry was eligible to tack on three years to the two seasons still left on his deal. However, the two sides ultimately didn’t reach an agreement, opting to put those talks off for at least another year, as president of basketball operations Bob Myers told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic.

“It was just one of those things, let’s just talk about it,” Myers said. “It was such a rushed season and preseason … and with what was going on and dealing with Klay (Thompson’s Achilles injury) and all the things we had going on. … We just very congenially said, ‘Let’s talk about it next season.'”

As Kawakami notes, when the 2021/22 season begins, Curry will be eligible to add four seasons to his remaining one. That extra year could be important to the two-time MVP, who recently turned 33.

“In his mind, the length matters,” Myers said. “It wasn’t contentious. Nobody was upset. It was just, ‘Hey, let’s talk about this at the end of next season.’ And I think that probably meant everybody feels good about the situation. No one was feeling badly about it.”

While it’s no guarantee that the Warriors will offer Curry four fully guaranteed maximum-salary years when they revisit talks this offseason, such a deal would be an incredibly lucrative one, worth more than $215MM over four seasons.

Myers touched on a few other topics of note during his conversation with Kawakami. Here are some of the highlights:

On whether he expects Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber to continue approving massive payrolls and tax bills:

“I’ve been fortunate enough to work for Joe and Peter, where winning has always been the No. 1 goal and the No. 1 mission in how we’ve moved forward in all our decisions. But at the same time, it’s not ‘spend recklessly.’ This year, we haven’t or didn’t use the ($9.3MM disabled player exception), haven’t used it yet. Didn’t find a reason to use it, didn’t feel like it was worth it to use it.

“Joe has always (said) to me, when the question has been asked, ‘Do you want to do this?’ The response from him has been, ‘Does this help us win?’ We’ll see when the time comes, if it’s a move that Joe thinks makes a lot of sense and economic ramifications are there but worth it, he’ll usually do it. But again, not to no end, not to a $400MM payroll or something of that nature.”

On Kelly Oubre‘s comments suggesting he wouldn’t want to come off the bench next season if he re-signs with the Warriors:

“Obviously, (head coach) Steve (Kerr) had to speak to (Andre) Iguodala about coming off the bench, a very, very accomplished player. And when you win, everybody seems content and happy. But I have no problem with players that want to start. They all want to start and they probably should feel that. I don’t think that’s an issue. I don’t think that prevents a guy from signing, if he wants to be in a certain situation, if he feels the money is fair, commensurate with what he deserves.”

On the Warriors’ 2021 draft strategy, and the top-three protected Timberwolves first-rounder the team controls:

“If we do end up getting a couple picks and the Minnesota pick does convey, that’s going to be an attractive thing in a trade or an attractive thing to look at. Because it’s rare that you have, if we do get the Minnesota pick and our pick, to have picks kind of in that high range, multiple picks. We’ll see. When that time comes, we’ll look at drafting, we’ll look at trading, we’ll look at everything on the table.”

Warriors Notes: Oubre, Wiseman, Lost Revenue

Earlier this week, a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic indicated that the Warriors and Pelicans had discussed a possible trade involving Kelly Oubre. Asked on Wednesday about that rumor, head coach Steve Kerr made it clear he didn’t appreciate the leak.

“It’s unfortunate,” Kerr said, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). “Team called us and asked about him. Didn’t even make an offer, asked about Kelly. Next thing it’s online.”

Kerr spoke directly to Oubre about the report, and the veteran forward told reporters that he appreciated the transparency, as Slater tweets. At the end of the day, I’m a Warrior,” Oubre added.

Here’s more out of Golden State:

  • James Wiseman has adjusted smoothly to a bench role since being removed from the starting lineup earlier this week, averaging 19.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 2.0 BPG on 68.4% shooting in two games (20.0 MPG) vs. Minnesota. “I’m more effective because I’m just studying (Kevon Looney) and how he can be able to guard the defense,” Wiseman said, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. “And just trying to figure out the different coverages, so it’s really helping me out a lot. So most definitely coming off the bench is something that’s very effective so far.”
  • As Friedell details, Kerr reiterated on Wednesday that the Warriors envision Wiseman as their “long-term” starting center, but will play his current role by ear as they look to maximize his development.
  • While the Warriors project to have the NBA’s most expensive roster this season, team owner Joe Lacob estimates that the franchise is missing out on about 70% of its projected revenue as a result of not being able to get fans into the Chase Center, writes Eben Novy-Williams of Sportico.

Financial Effects Of Pandemic Likely To Impact NBA Offseason

A number of team owners around the NBA are feeling the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com writes. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, for instance, has seen business fall off precipitously at his restaurants, hotels, and casinos, while Heat owner Micky Arison has had to temporarily shut down his Carnival Cruise Lines.

While some team owners have been hit harder than others by the effects of COVID-19, there’s an expectation that the pandemic will have a league-wide impact on spending this offseason, as Windhorst writes. Some teams may have to make difficult financial decisions that could result in unexpected player movement.

“With few exceptions, no one wants to make long-term commitments right now,” one general manager told ESPN. “You can already feel it coming.”

In addition to the teams that may feel pressure to dump pricey contracts or avoid expensive free agent commitments, some clubs may face financial constraints in the draft. Although selling second-round draft picks remains fairly common, no NBA team has sold a first-round pick since the Nuggets did so with the No. 27 selection in the 2013 draft, according to Windhorst. Some people around the league believe that teams will consider the possibility again in 2020.

“I suspect first-round picks will be for sale in this draft,” a team executive said. “We haven’t really seen that in a decade.”

Here are a few more noteworthy details and quotes from Windhorst’s examination of NBA teams’ finances:

  • Warriors owner Joe Lacob has told his fellow owners that he’s exploring a deal with Goldman Sachs to raise up to $250MM to manage expenses, per Windhorst. Sources tell ESPN that other team owners are considering ways to raise capital as well, with some – including the Rockets – pursuing legal action against companies that have denied coronavirus-related insurance claims.
  • Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta recently took out a $300MM loan and is more leveraged than many other owners, since he purchased the franchise fairly recently, but he continues to insist he’s not looking to sell any shares in the team. Brokers who have approached him representing potential bidders have been told the same, reports Windhorst.
  • Nets owner Joseph Tsai recently sold about 25% of his shares in tech company Alibaba, according to Windhorst. Other owners might not have similar opportunities to raise capital. “I don’t know what will happen, but I may lose $50MM next season,” one owner told Windhorst. “If that happens, I have three options: I could borrow the money, I could sell part of the team or I could do a cash call and me and my partners would have to write checks.”
  • NBA rules allow team owners to borrow $325MM against the equity in their franchises. A majority of NBA teams – including the Warriors – have maxed out that credit, sources tell Windhorst.
  • Although the Buss family’s pockets aren’t as deep as some of their fellow owners, the Lakers bring in about $200MM annually from their local TV deal and aren’t expected to have any issues re-signing Anthony Davis, writes Windhorst.

Western Notes: Stevens, Pelicans, Nuggets, Oubre

Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens will return to active status as a team stakeholder and also rejoin the team’s executive board once this season officially ends, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic reports. Stevens received a one-year suspension and was fined $500K after he shoved and yelled at the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry during Game 3 of last season’s Finals.

Despite reports to the contrary, Stevens was never bought out, nor was he in danger of being kicked out of the ownership group, Kawakami continues. Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob believes Stevens had a momentary lapse in judgment and has served the suspension without complaint, Kawakami adds.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans plan to reopen their practice facility in Metairie, La. next Monday, March 18, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times Picayune reports. Louisiana’s stay-at-home order prohibits the team from using the facility through Friday, when that order is set to expire. At least five teams are known to have reopened their facilities since the NBA gave the go-ahead to conduct individual workouts under supervision and safeguards.
  • The Nuggets have created virtual locker rooms to stay in touch and engaged, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Rather than staying connected via e-mails and text messages, the Nuggets have conducted a handful of team Zoom calls.
  • Suns wing Kelly Oubre Jr., who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in early March, showed explosiveness in an Instagram post, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. Oubre, who wasn’t wearing a knee brace in the video, could return to action this season if it resumes, Rankin adds. Oubre will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2020/21 season.

Joe Lacob Unsure How Hiatus Will Impact Warriors’ Future Spending

The Warriors, who wouldn’t have hosted any playoff games this spring if the NBA season had played out as scheduled, may not be the team hit hardest by the league’s indefinite suspension. However, owner Joe Lacob admitted that the lost revenue as a result of the hiatus and its potential impact on the salary cap going forward have created uncertainty about Golden State’s future spending ability.

Appearing on The TK Show with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, Lacob was asked whether the Warriors still plan to go full-steam ahead next season, using their $17MM trade exception and full taxpayer mid-level exception to bolster their roster. As Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area relays, Lacob has adjusted his stance a little since declaring last February that the franchise can “do whatever we want” financially.

“We’re looking obviously at all of those questions and the possible answers,” Lacob said. “But I don’t really have a good sense yet because I really have no idea how this is gonna shake out. We don’t know what the salary cap is going to be, we don’t know what the luxury tax is going to be, so we don’t really know what we can plan on at this point. We just have to look at a lot of different scenarios, and that’s what we’re doing right now. (The NBA’s stoppage) could make a huge difference and it might make no difference.”

When Kawakami pointed out that the Warriors may have a limited window of opportunity to continue competing for championships, given that Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are all now in their 30s, Lacob acknowledged that the team still wants to take advantage of that window as best it can.

“That was our plan and still – until further notice – is our plan for next year and the next few years,” he said. “However, a lot of things could change. And we’re going to have to adjust, just like every other team’s going to have to adjust, to whatever the new world order is, to whatever the new situation is in the NBA.”

During his half-hour conversation with Kawakami, Lacob addressed a few other topics of interest. Here are a few of the highlights from the discussion, which is worth checking out in full for Warriors fans:

On the Warriors’ draft plans:

“We’ve never spent more time as a group on the draft as we have this year. Obviously we have a lot more time to do it, we all do. I have watched videos of probably all the top players at this point. I’ve watched interviews, I’ve watched high school highlights, AAU highlights, like everybody else. … I think there’s enough information out there and enough work that’s being put in our side that we’ll be able to make a good decision and try to help our team.

“We’re going to look at all scenarios. … We’re going to look at drafting someone at our position, we’re going to look at maybe we trade down. I’m not saying that’s preferred or not preferred, I’m just saying it’s something we have to look at. We’re going to look at all options and we’re going to figure out a way to have our team be the best possible team that it could be for this year, but still with an eye toward building for the future.”

On signing D’Angelo Russell to a four-year contract and trading him seven months later:

“We thought (acquiring Russell in a sign-and-trade) was a great opportunity to be able to get a player in the wake of losing a Kevin Durant. To get anything of that quality was just an advantage, whether it worked out or not. We did not do it just for that reason, but we did it because we thought he could potentially be a part of what we were building for the future.

“That wasn’t without risk. We all understood that he was another guard, so we had to wait and see how it all worked out. I think as time went on we obviously began to take a little bit different look at the whole thing in terms of the fit, and even though he’s a good guy and really performed quite well for us, I think we all made the decision that perhaps there was a better fit out there than that. … Maybe it could have worked out, but we made the decision – right or wrong, we’ll find out – that (Andrew) Wiggins would be the better fit for us. And we think it’s a great fit, actually.”

On finding the silver lining in Durant’s decision to leave Golden State:

“He wouldn’t have played this last year, he was injured. We would have had a huge payroll as a team. So I think maybe this is the best thing. We’re able to start a rebuild a little bit earlier than we otherwise might have, and maybe it’ll prove to be the right thing in the long run that that occurred. I’m an optimist, I always look at things for what’s the positive in the situation. Yes, he left, that’s negative, but the positive is we got a chance to move forward quicker and to move into the next phase of what we’re doing.”

On NBA teams reducing certain employees’ salaries and/or furloughing staffers:

“There are no plans like that with us. … I think at this point in time, knowing what we know… our view is that we need and value all of our employees. We spent a lot of time hiring these people and training them and building up this organization to be a really good one, and I don’t want to tear it down unless for some reason we really had to, if there was economic calamity.”