By Marcus Thompson
Thursday, May 21st, 2009 at 10:34 pm in Uncategorized.
It took me all evening, but here is the transcript from the Warriors first-ever conference call with season ticket holders, which featured President Robert Rowell, GM Larry Riley and TV broadcaster Bob Fitzgerald as the moderator.
If you weren’t able to get on, or you didn’t have time to listen to the audio on the team’s website, you can get it here. I did leave out the stuff that wasn’t new or interesting. Otherwise, I’d still be typing.
A quick overview of what I thought were the highlights:
* Fitzgerald, making a case that Stephen Jackson’s contract is fair, said Jackson was getting $40 million over five years. His point was that $8 million a year for Jax was a good price. But Rowell drops a bomb. He chimed in saying of Jackson’s contract, “Actually, it was less than that. Way less than that.”
OK, let’s figure this out. Jackson had two years at about $14.8M. Let’s say $15M. So that means his extension would’ve had to have been three years for $25M in order to reach the 5-for-$40M Fitzgerald used as a ballpark barometer. So Rowell is saying that Jax got “way less” than 3-for-$25M.
Huh? That’s not right. I’m not sure if he got the math wrong in his head or what. It was widely reported that Jackson got the maximum contract. But I doubled back to check on that, and he did get the maximum contract. I’ve been assured so by multiple insiders.
The maximum for Jackson (which is a 10.5-percent raise on the final year of his current deal) would have been $27.8 million. Plus the $14.8, that made his deal five years, $42.6 million. Maybe there are some incentives or a team option, which has yet to come up in my research (and it would make no sense that Jackson would accept such terms). But even such wouldn’t put Jackson at “way less” than $40 million.
* If you thought Riley was going to tap dance around the Ellis issue, you would’ve been wrong. He said flat out that Monta can’t run a team (yet) and they are looking for someone who can pass.
* Riley also said the Warriors are looking for a veteran baller. He agreed with a fan that they don’t have the horses at the top of their lineup to compete with the big boys yet, so he’s trying to get one.
* Valet parking is coming to Oracle Arena
* Rowell and Riley have already begun discussing life after Nellie.
* Jamal Crawford is outta here. Riley sounded like he shared Nelson’s sentiments that Crawford isn’t a fit. So count him among the players being shopped heavily this summer. He did say Crawford wouldn’t be just given away, though. And he also said he wasn’t looking to move Randolph.
* Oh yeah, there were several shots at the media. Some of you may enjoy it, but I think it’s kind of trite and it’s a lame excuse. There’s quite a bit of talk about misinformation and speculation. The odd part is, Rowell is guilty of the very speculation and mudslinging he so despises. He said media members are “trying to make a name for themselves” (being among the youngest and least-established media members who cover the Warriors, I am sure I am in that group) and “positioning themselves for their next job” (not sure if he’s talking about me or not). Either way, the attack on the media is so redundant coming from that organization, it’s starting to sound like elevator music. Because it’s the same media who they loved in the spring of 2007!
The reality is the misinformation is a product of their silence. The speculation is a result of their refusal to answer questions. The anonymous sourcing and usage of second-hand information is a necessary because of their secrecy and intolerance for negative media.
If they want to go directly to the fans without the filter of the media (sounds so McCain-Palin-esque, huh?) be my guest. I think it’s a failed cause unless they are willing to tell the whole truth, even the bad stuff, which they won’t. It’s fine to say “we need to talk directly to the fans” when you’re on a campaign when you’re willing to talk. But we’ll see if they’re so eager to answer fan questions when the Warriors name pops up in the Toronto Star about a trade for Bosh or Nellie starts being Nellie again.
Anyway, enough of my ranting. On with the transcript:
Fitzgerald: Where’d the $3 million go (from the Monta Ellis fine)?
The entire $3 million did go back in the form of price reductions for next year’s season tickets. Actually, there was a total of $6 million that we’ve allocated to next season to make sure that not only we reduce pricing to honor that $3 million but we also enhance and increase our amenities for our fans. … We’ve reduced pricing by about $4 million for next season and then we’ve spent an additional $2 million on some amenities, some of the things that you got with the renewing of your season tickets. As well as we’re building a new kitchen for our in-seat wait service next year. We’re going to build a new club for our floor seats and our floor seat holders. We’re also going to be implementing a couple different parking ideas and concepts in Oracle Arena. One is going to be valet parking for our courtside club customers and then the other is going to be a sideline club lot that will provide the best ease in and access out of the Oracle Arena parking lot.
Fitzgerald: Give us a snapshot financially. Where is the ownership’s financial commitment going forward with this team?
Our commitment here has always been to provide money and resources to our basketball folks to be able to go out and get the best talent. You can sit and criticize whether or not we’ve spent those resources on the appropriate talent. But it’s always been there, and I think that’s something that Mr. Cohan will continue to do. I know that Larry and I have had a lot of discussions as to what we need to do and where we need to go next season and we’re going to continue to put the resources in. And we also respect the fact that times are tough. It’s difficult out there and we’ve heard from a lot of season ticket holders. I’ve spoken to many over course of the last couple of months. It’s a tough business out there. People have their own personal financial issues, which is one of the reasons why we extended our payment program for our season tickets for this year and also why we’re involved in having discussions with our customers who are our best fans to talk about ways in which we can get creative to make sure they’re back at Oracle Arena. Because I think the most important thing for us is that we continue to put a great atmosphere there for our players because they feed off the crowd at the Oracle Arena.
Fitzgerald: Can we get the focus on the players? … Is the goal to have the players going to take ownership of where the Warriors are going in the future?
One of the reasons why we made the decision to make the move that we made was to really focus back on the most important thing and that’s our product. The bottom line is this team needs to win basketball games. We need to do whatever it takes to get this team in a position where it can win. I don’t think we’re very far off from being able to win, but we need to continue to push that, we need to hold our players accountable, we need to put some carrots out there that we can go ahead and get and we can be successful. Because these fans deserve a winning product.
Fitzgerald: If this were a poker game in the offseason, would the Warriors have some chips to play?
We certainly do, and that was quite obvious in the conversations that I had with a number of the general managers who are in charge of the same stuff that we do here as far as personnel is concerned. There is a great deal of interest in our players. The essence of all this is we like our players, too. And we are not that far away from being a good basketball team. We probably do have to make some moves here and there. But there is opportunity to go out this summer, explore all kinds of different things. We will make, probably, make some changes in this team. You’ve heard me state this for, but I don’t see overhauling the team and having a team take the floor next year that nobody recognizes. Our players are well thought of around the league, in particularly our young guys are well thought of because they have some growth. And then, obviously, we have other players people are interested in as well.
Fin from Berkeley: Can you commit to us that short of LeBron James you guys are going to hang on to Anthony Randolph?
I would think so. We like him. We don’t have plans to do anything other than see him grow in a Warriors uniform.
Khabir: Great thing you’re doing. It’s nice to see that you want to hear from the fans. Is your job in jeopardy? Are you under constant pressure from Chris Cohan?
It’s a good question. It’s a fair question. This is my sixth season as the president of the Warriors. I am in and under as much pressure as anyone else. No one else here has the kind of pressure that I have to win. I am as committed to making sure that this is a winning franchise and a winning organization as we move forward. I think a couple things that would be noteworthy to point out. In 1998, I took over the entire business of the Golden State Warriors. At that particular point in time, we were 30th in the NBA in season ticket sales. We were dead last. We were dead last in sponsorship. I think we’ve done a lot of good things over the course of the last 10 years. … My focus now, and it will continue to be, is to make sure that our product is top 10 in the NBA as well. We’ve got to do that. We’ve got to make sure that this product is one that you guys are proud of, that we put parameters on everyone in this organization to win, that we hold people accountable and that we put all of our energy and focus back to where it belongs, and that’s on the court. That’s on the people who make baskets, the people who stop people from making baskets, our coaching staff who has decision making during game. And that’s really where we’ve got to focus. So as far as pressure is concerned, I’m under a tremendous amount of pressure. I’m under more pressure from you than from anyone else.
Carl in the 209: What’s our goal right now? Are we trying to win this year or are we trying to wait on the free agent market?
We’re not waiting. Our basketball team is close to being a playoff team. We’re in a situation where we feel like we can tweak this team a little bit and be right in the playoff hunt next year, and that’s what we’re after. There’s obvious planning for the future, but winning is what we’re after right now.
Fitzgerald: Is this team closer than people realize?
There’s no question we’re a lot closer than people realize. I look at it that way. It’s one of those things where we’re also going to have some growth in our young guys, we’re going to be healthier and were going to be better the next year, and then we’re going to add some ingredients to this basketball team.
I would actually like to add to that. Because we’ve got one of the best coaches in the NBA, arguably. He’s 24 wins away from being the all-time winningest coach in the NBA. We’re committed to having him as our head coach the next two seasons. We want to win and we want to win now. And we also want to win five years from now. Because our goal is to be in the playoffs in May of 2010, and then our goal is to continue to be in the playoffs and get better while we’re there. And then when you get better while you’re there, our goal is to be in the Western Conference Finals. And then you, obviously, need things to stack up appropriately. But if you can get to that position, then you’ve got something and that is what our goal is. So, we’ve got a short-term goal and a long-term goal. And we think we have some good young pieces that are part of our long-term goal, and we think have some veterans that fit in nicely with what we need to accomplish over the next two years while we have Nellie as our head coach.
John from Palo Alto: What’s the point guard situation?
We like Monta Ellis as a point guard and we’re in a situation where it wouldn’t hurt us to add a point guard. No question about that. We like C.J. Watson as well. If we can have those guys continue to grow and Monta be healthy, we’ll be OK there. As we look at things though, we’ll investigate improving the point guard situation throughout the summer whether it’s through the draft or whether its through trading. Monta is a guy who is very important to us. We’re talking about putting the focus on the players – well it is, and Monta is one of the main focal points for the team. The good thing for us is Monta can play at two and at one, and we have some flexibility there.
John from Palo Alto: How can the Warriors play better team defense?
There are things that happen with defense that maybe aren’t quite seen all the time, and we’re probably a better defensive team than we’re given credit for. The thing is though, if you look at the margin of difference in the final score, that’s probably a better judge of defense than looking at the total points allowed. People tend to look at that. We play a faster-paced game, therefore there are more points allowed. Now, do we need work? Absolutely we do. We need better individual defensive techniques all the time. That’s coming back to, actually, us from up on top and the coaches putting the focus right on the players to be a better defensive player in a one-on-one situation as well as having a situation where our team defense gets better. All those close losses we had, everybody said if you would’ve scored one more basket, you know, you would’ve won. Well, also if you would’ve made one more stop you would’ve won. We’re going to have a great deal more emphasis through our coaching staff and to our players in regards to that as we go forward.
John from Palo Alto: Are the Warriors planning for Nellie’s replacement when his contract expires?
Larry and I have had discussions as to what we may potentially do down the line. But I think our focus right now is on this season and making sure that we do the things necessary to give Don the tools and resources and players so he can be successful. Two years from now? I’m sure over the course of this season we’ll engage in a lot of discussions as to what our plans are. We do like some of the guys that are on our bench as well. It’s important to note that the style of basketball we play is one that we want to continue to play. … Whatever we do with respect to our exit strategy in two years – and two years is an awful long time in two years – we need to make sure that we continue to play the style of basketball that Larry and Don put into play here.
Don from Lafayette: Touching on the Chris Mullin situation, long-term fans have a bad taste in their mouth as far as how everything went down this past season and how the situation was handled by the organization. I wanted some comments on that. … I wanted to get some comments about how much participation has Mr. Rowell has had in personnel decisions and what he feels qualifies him to make those decisions.
First place we need to kind of clear things up is I don’t think you should believe everything you read. Unless you speak to me or us who are in it everyday, the facts are a lot different than, I think, a lot of the misinformation that’s out there. Chris was here for the last five seasons as the executive vice president of basketball operations. I actually am the guy who went out and got him six-and-a-half years ago to come back and be the executive vice president of basketball operations. So there’s no one here who wanted more success from Chris’ position than me. I worked with Chris for the last six years, really for about the last three-and-a-half years worked closely with Chris on a lot of contractual things. Because this is big business and if you make mistakes, it’s pretty hard to clean up mistakes unless you are fully aware of the ramifications. So about the last three-and-a-half maybe even four years, I’ve been involved in a lot of our negotiations we’ve had with agents. That’s no different from the Baron Davis situation. I am someone who has a degree in business, I’ve run this organization for the last 10 seasons, the last six on the basketball side and I have the experience. I understand our business as well as anyone in this company. Those are my credentials as far as what I bring to the table as the president of this organization. I don’t claim to be someone who is an expert on basketball. I’m like you are, Jason, I’m a big fan. Obviously, I get more access than you get to some of these guys and to the discussions and conversations that we have. And I rely on my basketball people to make the basketball talent decisions and the skill decisions. But when we’re sitting across the table from an agent, who happens to be a lawyer and isn’t necessarily a basketball guy either, you need business people in the room. So that’s really where I’m involved. But if Larry Riley wants a player, and he really wants that player, we’re going to go get that player. And we’re going to do what it takes to get that player. But part of doing what it takes to get that player is negotiating with that agent and getting a deal that’s fair for us so we can get other good players.
James from Concord: We’re a big man away from going to the next level. Can we get a big man.
I think everybody in the NBA is always in search of a big man. And we’re the same way. We’re close to having what we’d like to have going into the season. But I’ve said a couple of times already today that we’re going to look at making some change within the organization as far as our team is concerned and to find another big man would be helpful. When I say big man, though, I probably mean that a little bit differently in that I would like some beef around the basket. And that guy doesn’t have to be 7-foot-2, but we need some strength and power around the basket. You’re typical of a lot of our fans, you understand the game and you understand we can use that. That’s one of the areas we’d like to address.
Fitzgerald: Where can you get that kind of guy?
To be quite candid with you, I’m looking at guys on other squads and the possibilities of trades because it’s going to be very difficult to get a guy with experience in the draft. If you get a young guy with beef, that’s good, and we’ll help him grow. But a better way would be to get a guy with experience who does have that bulk. Now, we’ll be limited to some things. We’re not limited in our exploration.
James from Concord: I’m concerned about going forward, hearing from Warriors management with periodic press conferences so that we hear from them to avoid a lot of speculation in the media. So are you planning to do that regularly?
This is the beginning of a new era here. What you’re going to see is a lot of outreach from us. We’re going to let you know who we are, what we’re about. We’re going to be doing some things over the course of the next month where we’re going to be going out to different pockets of the Bay Area and having some Town Hall-type meetings. We’re also going to take this as our introductory press phone conference and we’re going to create a series of them so we can communicate to you. … You hit on a good point, you need to hear from us. You need to hear from what we think. Because there is so much speculation out there because let’s face it. Times are tough. The newspaper business is in trouble. A lot of people are trying to just make names for themselves or position themselves for their next gig. Sometimes things are said that aren’t necessarily accurate. Maybe the subject material and matter may be on point, but the actuality and the facts of the information aren’t.
In addition to that, we are in a great new time as far as what happens with media. We cannot control or will not seek to control what the media says. But we can’t stop them from speculating either. It’s their business as sportswriters, or bloggers or whatever. They may draw their own conclusions, and they may speculate, and they may say, ‘Well you outta do this trade or that trade.’ That’s fine. What I would say to you is that Robert and I are very willing to sit down, talk with the media, have more press conferences, and talk to you guys more than I have in the past.
The bottom line is when you win, a lot of problems aren’t problems. When you lose, issues become magnified and people speculate. We’re are where we’re at. We need to win. Period.
Jonathan in Oakland; What is the future with Jamal Crawford and what direction are we planning on going?
Well, there was obviously a lot of discussion last year in regards to Jamal. At the end of the season, he and Nellie talked back and forth. They both handled things professionally. Jamal has been the ultimate professional. He’s come to various different things that the Warriors have asked him to as far as appearances and so forth. But you’re talking about him on the floor and I understand that. He’s a guy that will be evaluated like every other player we have. But he’s not going to be shipped off for nothing. That’s not in the plan.
Norris: Why the rush to sign Stephen Jackson? It seems like you had a couple years before you actually had to do that and it seems like you lost a lot of flexibility salary wise by doing that.
Rowell: Here’s another one where we need to get the facts straight on. … We sat down last summer, me and the entire basketball operations staff, and we talked about Stephen Jackson. And everyone was in agreement that we should address his extension and his signing. So, whatever you read that’s out there, ladies and gentleman, Stephen Jackson was someone that we all agreed that we wanted to be part of the Warriors organization. I think it’s important to also note at the time that we did Stephen’s extension, there were 96 players in the NBA who made more money than Stephen. The extension that we signed Stephen to had actually restrictions as to how much we could pay Stephen in an extension, which was one of the reasons we went ahead and did it. And then we also did it because he was a player that our coaches, our front office, our basketball people all felt was someone who we wanted to be part of this organization. What he did for us a few years ago when we got him in that transaction with Indiana, what he did for our fan base, the way he plays, how tough he is, he was a guy our staff sat down and said, ‘you know what, if we go ahead and engage in this extension with Stephen, we’re dealing with someone who has a contract that if someday down the line, we wanted to move that contract” – I’m not going to talk about that stuff now. It’s a movable contract. So I think there’s just a misnomer out there that we turned around and signed Stephen to a twenty-something million dollar contract. We didn’t.
I’m just going to get right to the chase here. Isn’t Stephen’s contract worth five years for $40 million? Based on his level of productivity, $8 million a year on average for five years for that guy at 29 years of age …
No, it’s actually less than that. It’s like, it’s way less than that.
As far as that goes, the point is this, Stephen Jackson’s worth his money. And that’s all there is to it. (laughs) And we don’t talk specifically about contracts because we do that for the players and for us. I’ll just tell you, he’s worth his money and I’m glad he’s a Golden State Warrior.
Steve in Walnut Creek: The NBA’s about closing games and closing games you’ve got to have an All-Star guy or two on your team and the Warriors don’t have that and I think there are a long ways from that. What’s the plan for attracting free agents because the past has been pretty rough.
You’re astute in saying that we didn’t have a guy that would close games out for us last year and the teams that win do have. And so I’m not surprised that you would make that kind of an observation. We’re in a position right now where want some players to grow into accepting that kind of a role. And I’ll give you two names right now: Monta Ellis and, at some point, Anthony Randolph. If you look back at different players in the league, you may say that Chris Bosh in his rookie year wasn’t a guy who could close a game. He is now. Our guys are growing and that’s what we’re looking forward to doing. We’re putting the responsibility on their shoulders. We’re going to help them as much as we possibly can. And IF there is a free agent or a player to be traded for who can help us close games, we’re absolutely wanting to find that particular kind of a guy. But we have a couple guys right now that are really good candidates for that.
Michael in San Jose: When you let Chris Mullin’s contract expire, were there any other candidates other than Larry Riley?
Yes, there were.
Michael in San Jose: What made you decide on Mr. Riley, Don Nelson’s friend. I’m not a big Don Nelson fan. He ruined our franchise once and now he’s back again.
As far as Larry, Larry is a good communicator. He has experience managing people. He understands what it takes to be the best team in the Western Conference because he’s been part of a team that was the best team in the Western Conference. He understands what it takes to be on the bench to be able to do that. And, as you said, he’s Don Nelson’s friend. He is Don Nelson’s friend. He’s a lot of people in the NBA’s friend, I’m sure. He’s been with Nellie for the last nine seasons, eight of the last nine season’s on the bench. The last season here upstairs. He understands our coach. … Don’s a great coach. I know you said he doesn’t have a good winning percentage and he hasn’t won anything. He won a bunch of championships as a player, he knows what it takes to win. And he’s going to be the winningest coach in the NBA, so he’s going to win that as well. He’s quirky. He’s unconventional. He can be a pain sometimes and hard to manage. And I actually like that, because he wants to win. Because he cares. He doesn’t like to lose and he cares about winning, and he’s got a passion. And when you’ve got that leading your basketball team – and, by the way, he also is a heck of a coach, and Larry can talk about that – we need someone in this organization who understands Nellie, who can manage Nellie, and what a lot of people don’t know over the last six years, Larry managed Nellie better than anyone in this organization. And that’s one of the reasons why. And one of the things I saw in Larry, one of the qualities that he has, is he’s an excellent communicator. He can communicate not only with our staff, but he’s got a great rapport with our players. And the bottom line is this is about our players. We’ve got to hear what their needs are. We’ve got to put the right resources in place to help them win. And then we’ve got to demand and command that they win. And Larry is the right guy for the job.
Sam from Oceanside: I’ve got to have something to make me come back now. I’m so disappointed. What is our direction of this team?
Our direction is to take our young players, continue to develop them, and to get into a situation where we can add at least one more ingredient to this bunch. And believe me, we are very close to being able to be that team that gets back in the playoffs. … And that’s our objective. That’s where we’re going with this thing. It is a situation where it’s difficult to sit and watch a team lose. I’ve been here three years now, so I guess you can say I’m 1-for-3. We missed the playoffs last year. You’ve been here for, you’re telling me, virtually 50 years. So I understand your frustration. But we’re working for you. We’re working for our fans. We are as desperate to get back into that playoff picture as you are as fans. Our plan is to upgrade the team either through some kind of free-agent move this summer or some kind of trading. And then we’ll be there and we’ll have the team on the floor that you’ll want to be a part of.
Brett from Fremont: Though I don’t agree with your assessment that we’re that close. … I go up and down the Western Conference and I really feel like the other teams, their top two players are better than our top two players. … I’m just wondering if you want to build a team to compete for championships if it isn’t better to angle for two guys, you’re top talent needs to be on par or better than the competition and I’m not sure we’re doing that.
I’ll go one step further than that. It isn’t two, it’s three. You gotta have three guys who can really play and the rest of your team has to be able to stand up to the rigors of the NBA. We’re in a position where we need to add a guy and we need some of our guys to grow up. One of those two ways, we’ve got to come up with another player that we can count on. And that player needs to, as we alluded to earlier, we need to have a go-to guy at the end of the game. So we have those things that we have to do. And I’ll agree with you. It’s very difficult to go from 29 wins to being in the playoffs. But I’m not about setting goals that are easily reached. I could say, ‘OK, we won 29 last year, we want to win 35.’ That won’t work either. And I think to get in the playoff chase. It’s more like the year we got in when we won 42. I think next year, you’ll see a little more balance in the Western Conference and if we can get into the range of 40 to 42, we’re going to be in pretty good shape. And then the other thing that’s going to happen, we’ve got players coming back healthy next year. From the get go, from the first day of training camp, we’re going to have a healthy Monta Ellis, and we’re going to have other guys that missed so many games this year that we are a better basketball team than what they 29 games indicated.
Aarvid from Sunnyvale: How is the Warriors financial health?
Our fiscal health, even in lieu of the economy, is fairly strong. A lot of it is due to the fact that we’re in the fifth-largest market in the country. We’re definitely feeling it, like everybody else, but I think we’re stronger than some of the teams that you may be alluding to, that you’ve been hearing about. From our standpoint, right now we’re closing in on 70 percent renewal in season tickets. And that’s somewhere we would be all right and happy to be in to close out our renewal process because we do understand that the economy has squeezed a lot of people with respect to where they spend their money.
Fitzgerald: Where would that rank in the league?
That would rank maybe top 12 in the league, when it’s all said and done. And we still have got a little ways to go, but we’re closing in on it. We obviously want our fans to renew their seats and come back and support this team. I think it’s important to remember, as rough as last season was, we had some great home games at Oracle Arena. We had the win over Boston. We beat Portland twice, Utah, Dallas, New Orleans, Denver. We had that buzzer-beater when LeBron hit the shot to beat us. And that was with, many times, a beat up team. And I’m not making any excuses but I just want people to realize how much fun they had in the building last season. Our players feed off of that, and our players go around the league, and they go to some of those cities, Aarvid, that you’re talking about, and some of those cities have no one showing up at their games. Well, our guys always comment on how great the fans here at Oracle Arena are and how great our Warriors fans are. You guys are the best, and we need you back and it’s important for our business in order to do that. Kind of going back to where things are going in the economy and whether we have money to spend on players. Of course we do. I think one of the things you’re going to see this year is this is going to be the first season where the salary cap and the luxury cap come south. They’re going to go down, which means you’re going to have less money to spend within the parameters and rules of the league. So we have to be creative through free agency and trades and sign-and-trades and different things Larry needs to work on with his staff this summer.
Gary from Salinas: Would you say the Warriors are more likely to take youth and use that to package for some veteran player to take you to the next level, like Boston did, or are you likely to take some veterans and get some youth and go the other direction, like Oklahoma City did?
What I would like to see is something like what happened in Boston. Everybody would love to be able to get Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. I don’t see that in the offing. But as we look to do some trades, I would like to see a player with experience. We have enough young players. To take on another young guy probably doesn’t get us where we need to go. I’d like to see an established veteran with some leadership qualities and I think that would go a long way to helping us.
Fitzgerald: You expecting a lot of activity?
There’s no question that the economy has gotten a hold of, let’s say 25 of the 30 NBA teams. There may be four or five that have deep pockets and aren’t worried. Everybody else is looking at the economy constantly and I think there will be a lot of activity around that where a lot of people are trying to save money and still acquire a good player. I think that’s going to mean that there’s a lot of movement over the summer.
Ram from Fremont: I don’t believe Monta has that true PG mentality that makes others better.
That’s a pretty good observation. He does not. You know, it’s that simple. What he is, is a great player who has great speed. He can help other players on the team but he doesn’t run a team like a Chauncey Billups. Chauncey Billups is a proven player like what you’re seeing in the playoffs. He grabbed a hold of that Denver team when he was traded there and he got them playing quite a bit better by his leadership. Now Monta’s going to have to do it a different way. He can be on the floor, and he can get up and down the floor, he can cause things to happen. He has improved his passing. He has improved his ability to run the pick-and-roll. But he’s not Chauncey Billups right now. Will he get there? He probably will. But it won’t happen next year. It’s going to be constant growth.
Fitzgerald: Are you looking for a passer in this draft?
Absolutely. One of the foremost things that we can get in a player that we draft is the ability to move the basketball, be it off the dribble and then pass, or be it a straight pass. Our passing skills have got to improve. And we do, as you said, we use a lot of people at the point guard. They’re not just called point guards. It could be Stephen Jackson. It could be that we’ve got a four man out there at times that actually initiates it. The way this system goes, it’s better to have a true point guard. At one time, we had Steve Nash playing for us. Well that was a delight. We don’t have Steve Nash this year. So we’ve got to find a different way to do it. I’m quite confident that we’ll be able to move the ball. We are looking for a guy who is an established player, but one of his ingredients needs to be that he’s a good passer.
John from Alamo: You talked about accountability in terms of Chris, there only being one playoff appearance in five years. Unfortunately, the organization as a whole has only been to the playoffs once in the last 15 years. Where is your accountability and why should we believe it will be different now than in the past?
I’m with you. I am 100 percent there. We are accountable to everyone on that. One of the things that has been our focus is to create an exciting environment at Oracle Arena so our fans have fun when they come to games. I think over the course of the last decade, I’ll put our building against anyone else’s in the NBA as far as entertainment value and the feel. I watched fans this year, even when we lost games that we played hard in , or we won games, people were excited when they left. I hope that you were excited at some of the games and saw some of the promise of our young players because that’s what we need to build on top of and keep focused on. You’re exactly right, this team has going to playoffs one time in the last 14 years. It just happened to be three seasons ago. That’s not enough. I’m not happy with that. My job is to make sure and ensure we have people making decisions that help us move in the right direction. I’ll back up to the fact that three years ago we had the eighth-best record in the league and we did have to squeeze in the playoffs. We had to win nine of the last 10 games, and then magic hit. We basically had an electric three-week period where we were the toast of the entire country with We Believe and the run that we made through Dallas and the fight we put up against Utah. That’s where we want to be. And it’s not just getting in, it’s sustaining when you’re in. And it’s doing the right things to continue. The next year, we finished with the ninth best record in the league. And guys, I think we went 10-12 in the last month to close the season. That’s not what we need to do. You win 48 games in a season, you can’t close the season going 10-12. That’s part of accountability. That’s part of management. That’s parting setting it up and demanding that we do business the right way. Those are the things that Larry and I have had a lot of discussions about and we are locked in on. Guys, we have to do a job here and win basketball games and make you guys proud of being Warriors fans. And that’s my job.