NBA Franchise Notes: Warriors Making Strides Under Co-Owner Joe Lacob
In Oakland, Monte Poole wrote prior to Warriors co-Owner Joe Lacob's arrival, the franchise was "globally insignificant and, on the whole, an object of civic ridicule." But a "mere 30 months after the Lacob-Warriors marriage was consummated with a solemn vow of superior quality and eternal commitment, we can see it and feel it." Warriors C Andrew Bogut said, "I've been impressed with the organization since I got here. It's been sensational. Everything's first-class here." Poole wrote Lacob and his partners, "notably the signifying" co-Owner Peter Guber, have fixed the Warriors about as much as anyone could in 2 1/2 years." Bay Area streets suddenly are "filled with T-shirts and caps worn by previously inconspicuous fans now tumbling out into the open." The franchise is now "alive and vibrant." The Warriors under Lacob and Guber "have been repackaged and impressively rebranded" (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 5/18).
GOING TO GRACELAND: In Memphis, Geoff Calkins wrote Grizzlies CEO & Managing Partner Jason Levien is a guy "trying to establish his credibility in a new market," so the team's playoff run "has been a happy turn of events." Levien said, "Was there pressure? I guess there was. Up to the point of that [Rudy Gay] trade, everything we had done had been puppy dogs and ice cream. ‘We’re staying in Memphis.’ ‘We’re making a commitment to the city.’ ‘We’re bringing in local partners.’ It was all very popular.” He added, "You know what’s gratifying? The process worked. It reaffirmed our commitment to the process we implemented. ... We will do things that are unpopular. That’s unavoidable in this business. But it’s not as important to win the press conference as it is to do the right thing for the franchise over the long run" (MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 5/18).
FLIP-ADELPHIA: In Philadelphia, Keith Pompey asks of recently hired 76ers President of Basketball Operations & GM Sam Hinkie, "Will Hinkie use the same methods he employed as executive vice president of basketball operations for the Rockets? Or will he do things his way, emphasizing some stuff the Rockets did and ignoring others?" Hinkie said, "I think here there's a lot to be determined before we decide exactly how we will attack it. But I think whatever we decide, I would hope -- if not every move -- almost every move is consistent with that." Pompey writes the Rockets "thrived under the statistical analysis approach Hinkie is bringing to the Sixers" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/20).
STORM CHASERS: Thunder GM Sam Presti said of whether the team is prepared to go into the luxury tax this offseason, "As a result of our commitments to our core players, the organization will ultimately end up as tax payers. However, given that our goal is to have a team capable of contention for a sustained period of years, when to proactively enter the tax and how realistic it is for a team in Oklahoma City to sustain successive taxable seasons will have to be carefully examined." He added, "The amnesty clause is not something we have deeply considered as an organization" (OKLAHOMAN, 5/19).
PANNING FOR GOLD: In Denver, Mark Kiszla wrote Nuggets Exec VP/Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri, who is reportedly drawing interest from the Raptors,"rescued the Nuggets from the chaos caused by Carmelo Anthony's trade demand." Ujiri "would be far harder to replace in the front office" than coach George Karl "would be on the bench." Kiszla: "Ujiri deserves a big raise from the Nuggets. Pronto" (DENVER POST, 5/19).