OAKLAND – The latest was announcing Tuesday they had purchased control of basketball operations of the NBA Development League team in Bismarck, N.D., which came after they spent $2 million during the draft to acquire the second-round pick that became Jeremy Tyler, which came after foiled attempts to spend $3 million to get an additional first-rounder, which came after all the spending of the previous months. Paying David Lee some $80 million to come, paying Don Nelson another $6 million to stay away, giving up an unknown ownership share to get Jerry West to join the front office, and – oh, yeah – heading the group that paid a league-record $450 million to get the Warriors in the first place.
Joe Lacob and Peter Guber promised a serious financial commitment upon taking control last November, and they have delivered. In a time of economic hardship for many around them, the Warriors have signed huge contracts, fired a high-paid coach with a year left on his contract, handed over a portion of the team to land West, and made a bold strike in the draft. All in less than a year, with the understanding that Lacob and Guber were far enough along in buying the franchise last summer that they probably could have scuttled the Lee sign-and-trade that officially went down on the watch of predecessor Chris Cohan.
Golden State was in such buyer’s mode Thursday that the $2 million sent to the Bobcats for Tyler as the No. 39 pick was actually the fallback. The Warriors, Lacob said, had tried to get another pick in the second half of the first round, likely at the going-rate cost of $3 million, which would have meant a second guaranteed contract after drafting Klay Thompson at 11. Nothing materialized, Lacob told NBA.com, because potential trade partners wanted players in return, not money.
“We would have done that as well if we felt that we could get a player wanted,” Lacob said of spending the $3 million. “Look, we’re not here to screw around. We’re here to make this team better, any way we can, whether it be the new medical doctors, training staff, coaching staff, general manager, Jerry West, dollars, players. We’re going to get there and we’re not going to stop. I’ve tried to say this over and over and over again, and people are going to start to see it here. We are going to do everything possible to give ourselves every chance to contend.”
A fan base that has been passionate and patient to an extreme, ranking among the league leaders in attendance despite a history as lottery regulars, deserves nothing less. And the Warriors faithful would have embraced Lacob and Guber no matter what, simply as a change from the unpopular Cohan. But now that the new owners have followed through on promises, and have a relationship with backers in a way the disconnected Cohan did not enjoy, Lacob and Guber are standing out as more than just a contrast from the past.
(It is worth noting that, for all the verbal abuse he took, spending was hardly a primary Cohan problem. If anything, he overpaid for Adonal Foyle, Derek Fisher, Mike Dunleavy, Stephen Jackson and Troy Murphy in deals negotiated y since-departed executives Chris Mullin and Robert Rowell. Cohan also took on Nelson as one of the highest-paid coaches in the league despite previous bad blood.)
Besides, Tyler is a sensible investment. An expensive one given how many players become something after lasting into the second round, but understandable. The Warriors need help at center and Tyler is 6-feet-10 and has enough potential that some teams were looking at him in the 20s and even as high as the late-teens. No one would be surprised if he eventually develops into part of the rotation. That’s when the $2-million price tag, beyond the contract, would be more than just the statement of the moment.