Thursday, May 21, 2009


Ok, I admit it. I was one of the nearly "70%" that renewed. The prospect of watching Anthony Randolph grow as a Warrior was too much to resist. Contrary to popular opinion, I actually think the Warriors are heading in the right direction - for the most part. There are some obvious moves that need to be made like getting rid of Crawford and Maggette's contracts as well as bringing in a true PG. I didn't have time to transcribe the Q & A session so thank you Golden State of Mind for doing it for the fans. Here the full proceedings at

Let's get right to it:

Can you tell us short of LeBron James you're going to hold onto Anthony Randolph?

Riley: I like him. We don't have plans other than let him grow.

Good. A.R. has All-Star written all over him. Judging by their transactions for the past few seasons, they seemed geared towards keeping the good young talent, growing them, and reaping the benefits down the line.

Is Rowell's job in jeopardy?

Rowell: Good question and fair question. 6th season as president. Under as much pressure as anyone else. Commited to making this a winning franchise and organization. In 1998 he took over buisiness of Warriors. 30th in season ticket sales and sponsorship. His focus is to make sure product is in the top 10 in NBA as well. Has to make sure product is good for fans. All of energy and focus should be on court. Pressue- tremendous pressure. More pressure under fans.

Rowell's doing his job well as long as he stays completely out of the basketball part of the equation. His success in owner Chris Cohan's eyes is measured in how much profit he can generate for him. Mission accomplished. His job won't be in jeopardy until Cohan starts losing money big time.

There likely instances where he had a hand in player transactions:
  1. Not authorizing the use of the $10M exception created in the Richardson deal - Bad
  2. Denying Baron a Clipper-like contract extension - Good
  3. Extending Stephen Jackson's contract 2-year early - Bad
And whoever was responsible for panicking after the Baron opt out and throwing max dollars at Arenas and Brand, then finally settling for Corey should be fired. This was clearly an attempt to appease distraught fans with a big name, but what they did was screw up the valuable cap space created by the Baron void. Awful.

What's the goal of the team? Trying to win now?

Riley: Feel like they can be in the playoff hunt with tweak. Winning is what they're interested in now.

Rowell: We have one of the best coaches in the NBA. We want to win and we want to win now. And we want to win to 5 years from now.

Agreed. With a healthy roster and the addition of a veteran PG to backup or play alongside Monta, they are a playoff team. 1 and done, but nonetheless, a playoff team. They need to strike a balance between winning now and building a true contender. That entails targeting the right draft pick with the most potential, collecting valuable assets with upside and that other teams would find worth trading for, going after young stars with your assets, getting rid of over-priced contracts to maintain flexibility, assembling a balanced roster, building a culture of defensive pride, and acquiring players that fit the style of play Don Nelson has established as the Warriors' identity. Oh yes, one more important thing, don't be afraid to tank for a high draft pick in a strong draft year if you know the season is a lost cause. Impatient fans will hate you for the short term, but stick to your guns and you may end up with a franchise changer.

PG situation

Riley: We like Monta as a PG. It wouldn't hurt to add a PG. We like CJ Watson as well. Will look into improving it over the summer. Monta is one of the main focuses.

I'm pessimistic about the Monta PG project. Both he and CJ Watson do not have the point guard instincts to get the ball to the right people with timing and precision. They do not make teammates significantly better and aren't ideal floor leaders in a style that thrives on playing at high speeds, feeding off quick decision making, and the ability to play efficiently and avoiding turnovers. This team needs at least one reliable ballhandler that can push the tempo with confidence. The ball is not safe being brought up the court under full court pressure from a good defensive team. WARRIORS MUST ADD A TRUE POINT GUARD TO THE ROSTER.

Better team defense.

Riley: Probably a better defensive team than given credit for. Better way to judge is point differential between two teams than points allowed. A great deal more emphasis on D from coaches and players.

Warriors have the athletes that can potentially be strong defenders - they just need the right coach to insure they play intense, smart defense and that they are held accountable no matter how many years they've been in the league. Defensive performance needs to take precedence over offensive performance.

Don Nelson retiring soon

Rowell: Focus is on this season to give Don Nelson help this season.

Fitz: Thinks rebounding and FG% defense.

Riley: FG% defense is what it's all about and rebounding quickness. Style of play is something they want to continue with. Exciting play is important, but winning is more important.

Rebounding was a huge problem because Nelson insisted on playing a SG/SF at the PF position. Lot's of defensive rebounds were lost and the team paid the price. The record speaks for itself. I love small ball, but there are nights when it needs to be abandoned and shifted to a more traditional lineup. One frontcourt I can't wait to see is Randolph, Wright, and Biedrins. In order to continue to use small ball, they need to upgrade the winger that will play PF - an Artest type would be ideal.

Chris Mullin situation- a lot of fans have a bad taste.

Fitz: (angrily) Do you have a question?

Rowell inserting himself in the Baron Davis situation. How much of a role has Rowell had in the basketball decisions?

Rowell: I don't think you should believe everything you read. The facts are a lot different than the misinformation out there. I actually went out on got Mullin. Worked closely with Chris on a lot of contractual decisions. 3.5-4 years been involved in negotiations with agents. Has a degree in business. Has the experience. Doesn't claim to be an expert of basketball. A big basketball fan. When you're sitting across from a lawyer-agent, you need business people.

Didn't really answer the question as to why Mullin was frozen out, why he was striped of any real power, and why he was marginalized and allowed just to fade away. It was a sad way for him to go from a fan's standpoint. Mullin was one of the all-time Warrior greats, the We Believe roster was assembled on his watch (though probably with a lot of help from Nellie), and he was respected around the league by executives, fans, and players. I don't disagree that Mullin should not return, but I too can't help but have that bad taste in my mouth as well.

We're a big man away from next level. Is there a possible way to get a big man via trade or draft?

Riley: Everyone in NBA is in search for a big man. We're looking to make some change. I would like some "beef" around basket. Need strength and power around basket. Our fans know the game as well.

Fitz: Got a lot of length with Biedrins, Turiaf, AR, Wright. Where do you find this guy?

RIley: Looking at guys on other squads and trades. Young guy with beef is good, but a young guy with experience is good.

Disagree. We are a true PG away from the next level. We have a great rotation of bigs in Randolph, Wright, Turiaf, and Biedrins. The Warriors need to add a beefy PF to the mix, but it should not take priority over acquiring a true PG to get the ball moving effectively with a high assist to turnover ratio.

Warriors BBQ was great. Nice to hear from Warriors more periodically, not just through the media.

Rowell: Beginning of new era. More outreach. This is an introductory press conference. So much speculation out there. Newspaper business in trouble. A lot of people trying to position themselves for next gigs.

Riley: We can't stop media from speculating. Robert and I are willng to have more press conferences with media and talk to fans more.

Fitz: Player agents haven't had agendas like they do now.

Riley: Bottom line. When you win a lot of problems aren't problems. When you lose a lot of things get magnified.

The media seem to be making valid inferences from what is going on and should not be blamed for writing stories while floating out disclaimers - especially if they are not given an explanation from management. It's there job and if management doesn't like it, it needs to respond with words not silence. Much of the criticism surrounds bone-head moves like Jackson's premature extension, Maggette's signing, the 1-for-1 Harrington / Crawford trade, player rotations, and lack of player accountability. All these are facts, not speculation on the media's part. I like how the Warriors are trying to be more transparent from here on out. We'll see how long that lasts.

What is the future with Jamal Crawford?

Riley: Jamal has been ultimate professional. Will be evaluated like every other player. Won't be shipped off for nothing.

Crawford is a quality person, but his contract is overpriced, has 2-years remaining, and takes away minutes from the rest of the young players that the Warriors know they want to keep. Crawford needs to be moved for a true PG, expiring deal, or even just a future late 1st or 2nd rounder.

Customer relations- any changes to concessions, so fans can bring their own food?

Rowell: The arena subcontracts with Levvy restaurants and part of the deal. Had a 2 day meeting in Chicago about changing the menus. We've got to be able to charge for food to operate and to get players for Riley. Maybe we need to create more affordable food options.

Food prices (and parking for that matter) are outrageous. Eat before the game, tailgate, or eat after the game. Smuggle in a snack if you must. There needs to be an affordable option for fans.

Why the rush to sign Stephen Jackson?

Rowell: Need to get facts straight. We sat down last summer with the entire basketball staff and everyone was in agreement to extend. At the time of the extension there were 96 players in the NBA who were paid more than him. He's a player our coaches, front office, and basketball people wanted. If they want to move him later, it's a movable contract.

Riley: Stephen Jackson is worth this much. We don't talk specifically about players for them and us.

I can't believe it was a group decision to extend Jackson! You mean to tell me a collection of basketball minds don't see that this as a mistake? There's a lot that can happen between now and the Summer of 2010. Warriors have the rights to match any offer, so if they want still want to keep him when it's time to pony up, they will be in the driver's seat. By locking up Jackson to a longterm deal, they instantly lost an expiring deal which is like gold in these trying economic times. There are more teams trying to cut payroll and the Warriors are in a worse position to capitalize off of the new financial state of the NBA. Now they are committed to paying a 34 year old $10.1 M by the end of his contract. I guarantee you that not one team would be willing to pay as much as the Warriors did for a player on the downside of his career. Cap flexibility hurt once again. His contract isn't as movable as they think and it's a bad move no matter how you try to spin it.

NBA is about closing games which you need an All-Star caliber guy. What's the plan in having more success in attracting free agents?

Riley: You're astute in noting we don't have a guy who can close games. We want Monta Ellis and Anthony Randolph to grow into those roles. Chris Bosh couldn't do that his rookie year, but he can do that now. If there's a free agent or trade that can do this, we'll go after him.

Ellis and Randolph have All-star potential, but I would even go as far as putting Biedrins into that category as well. If you look how he was used early in the season, you can see that he can develop into a legitimate low post scoring threat. He's very young and one of the best rebounders in the league. He converts at an incredible percentage, blocks shots, has great hands, and is extremely agile for his position. If the Warriors had a winning record, he would have received more All-Star consideration. By not including Biedrins with Ellis and Randolph, could they be setting up the stage for a major trade?

PG- Arenas, Parker, Brooks, vs. Monta

Riley: Not a whole lot of difference between them. Parker runs the pick and roll a lot better than Monta. Hard to find a John Stockton type guy. You don't need one to be successful.

Arenas is an elite player when healthy. More unguardable than Monta but with 3 point range. Parker has more point guard instincts and is a more willing passer. Brooks is a novelty that will wear off once teams start taking him seriously as part of their defensive game plan. Like Monta, Brooks is a defensive liability with so-so point guard skills.

In order for this team and this style to be successful, the Warriors need to have a true PG to run the team when it's crutch time and when good defensive teams dig in for the stop. They need a creative playmaker that can find the open man and exploit the smallest of holes in a defense. They need a player that can get anywhere he wants to on the floor and is cognicent of where all his teammates are - drive and dish to one of our many good 3 point shooters.

I'm sick and tired of all the botched fast breaks, the errant ally-oop passes, hot 3 point shooters not getting the ball, careless turnovers, and the tendency to revert back to a 1-on-1 style of play because of the lack of ball movement. The Warriors won't get far without a good true PG on the roster.

When Mullin's contract expired, were there other GMs considered besides Riley?

Rowell: Yes.

Don Nelson's friend.

Caller said something to the effect of "Don Nelson has never won anything... He ruined team before and he's ruining it again."

-- Seems like caller got cut off --

Rowell: Nelson won a bunch of championships as a player. Don can be a pain. We need someone in this organization who can understand and manage Nellie. Riley's done it for the past 6 years. RIley is an excellent communicator. Bottom line- it's about players.

Riley: I'm being challenged and I understand. What matters is we have to go to work.

Mullin never seemed comfortable addressing the fans and media. He always said the same things over and over and at times, was painful to listen to. This may have contributed to the end of his tenure as the Warriors GM. Mullin didn't get the fans excited and was a man of few words. This probably didn't sit well with Rowell, who constantly touts Larry Riley's ability to communicate as one of the main reasons he was chosen as the new GM. When the Warriors were winning, Don Nelson was the star of the show along with Baron Davis. When it's time for Nelson to retire, expect him to be named V.P. of Basketball Operations, a step above Larry Riley.

How will you guys get season ticket holders more interactive with players? Pics, autographs, hang out, etc.

Rowell: More access planned..

Good. The Warriors organization has to show loyal season ticket holders how important they are to the success of the franchise. There needs to be more benefits to STH's and they need to have exclusive experiences to make it a special, meaningful investment in the Warriors.

Been going to Warriors games since 1965 and season ticket holder for past 10 years. Last year was the most frustrating. After 45 years, really disappointed what is our direction?

Riley: Take young players and develop them and add pieces and get into the playoffs.

I agree with this direction. I've been a fan for 30 years and have the patience to watch quality young players grow into stars. I don't want to trade young talent for old vets just for a short term run at the playoffs.

Playoffs next year isn't realistic. Everyone's top 2 players are better. Hopefully Monta grows. Isn't better to angle for 2 guys?

Riley: I'll go one step further. It isn't 2. It's 3. We're in a position where we need to add a guy and grow. We need to have a go to guy at the end of the game. Very difficult to go from 29 to playoffs, but he's about setting high goals. Next year you'll see more balance in West. If we can get into the range of 40-42, that might do it. With a healthy roster, we're better than the 29 win total. It isn't fool's gold to say let's be one of those teams that gets into the playoffs.
There aren't many teams that go as deep as the Warriors, but the caller was right, Warriors don't have a great duo....yet. Randolph is a great start, Monta is a difficult type of player to build around, but he is a very good talent. Biedrins can be that 3rd star that Riley alluded to. Other players that can potentially step up as big contributors: Morrow, Belinelli, and Wright. In order for the Warriors to make the playoffs, they need to win at least 45 games next year. In order to do that, they need to have a nice offseason and a healthier roster for 2009/10.

Trade front. Would you say Warriors are more likely to package youth or more likely to take experience and go young, like OKC did?

Riley: What I'd like to see is be like Boston- get KG and Ray Allen. We have enough young players, getting another young player doesn't get much. Getting as establish veteran and leader is better. No question that economy has gotten a hold of all but 4 or 5 teams in the NBA. A lot of teams will be looking to cut costs.

Riley seems to be leaning towards trading the pick to land veteran help. If a quality PG prospect like Jrue Holiday or Brandon Jennings is not available at #7, then I would recommend using the pick along with Crawford or Maggette to trade down in the draft and land a quality vet that fits.

PG is important. Monta has a 2-guard mentality, not a point guard mentality.

Riley: He does not have a 1-guard mentality. Doesn't run a team. He's going to have to do it a different way. He can't run a pick and roll. Will he there at that Chauncy Billups level? Probably not year. Our passing skills need to improve. We use a lot of people at the point guard, they just aren't called point guards. Better to have a true point guard. We've got to find a different way to do it. We are looking for an established player, but he needs to be a passer. It is likely Don Nelson finishes a game in a smaller lineup. You put the other teams in a bind, also yourselves with rebounding. You have a PF who has to guard a guard. You usually have better free throw shooters, etc.

Monta won't cut it as the full time PG. Like I've been saying, a true PG needs to be brought in as a backup plan to the Monta experiment. Vets on the radar are Kidd, Nash, Miller, Bibby, and possibly even Ramon Sessions. I would use the #7 pick to select a great PG prospect and then fill the veteran need through trade and free agency. That way we have the potential of paying a rising star at Rookie Scale while filling holes in our roster at the same time.

I enjoy watching small ball when it's played right, but it was rarely played right this season. There was not enough ball movement, no one to push the tempo, no one who could consistently run a fastbreak, and there was no swarming defense. It's difficult to do without Baron Davis and with all the injuries. The Warriors have to find a way to field a roster that can play the small ball Nellie envisions. If they don't have the right pieces, they need to switch to a traditional and sometimes big lineup to best utilize the existing talent on our roster. In small ball, offense is the driving factor behind it. In order to be successful in the post season, defense has to be the driving factor. Warriors need to play both ways when the going gets tough.

So many players with amazing potential, but we have to rebuild year after year and because we don't keep them.

Riley: Morrow and Randolph played big minutes. We want to keep players 2-5 years and build off of them. I fully believe in college seniors of today. Josh Howard taught me that. I have nothing wrong with drafting a senior player. We have had discussions with Monta. Spoke with Monta two days ago to see how Monta feels mentally. He's a guy they want to see develop. If you put Anthony Randolph in this year's draft, he might go #1. He'd be 1 or 2.

Rowell: Randolph averaged 17.9 minutes. More than TMac, Kobe, and Jermaine O'Neal as rookies. Agrees we do need to build on young guys and keep them together.

Please don't draft a player just because he's a college senior! There are exceptions, but for the most part, those players are the ones that weren't good enough to enter the draft as underclassmen and that what you see now is what you get. There is small upside and chances are, you will be passing up a better player in the future, for a low ceiling, perennial role player that can help you now. Warriors should swing for the fences if they are drafting #7. If they trade down, then perhaps you go for a player like Terrence Williams.

Accountability. Organization has made playoffs 1 in 15 years. Where is your acountability? Why should fans believe organization will be different? How serious is this organization in going farther than just 1st round?

Rowell: 100% there. We are accountable. Our focus is to create an exciting environment. Over the course of the last decade, I'll put our building against any in the league. Hope you were exciting this past season and saw promise. I'm not happy with 1 in 15 playoff appearances. We barely made it 3 years back. Next year we finished with 9th record- went 10-12 at the end of the season. Part of accountability and management. We have to do a job and win basketball games.

Accountability means transparency and defined roles for everyone in the front office and coaching staff. Rowell won't fire himself. Cohan and Rowell seem to be more concerned about showing the fans "a good time out," and less about doing what it takes build a contender. It takes the right guy as GM (Nelson), fearlessness to tank when necessary (half-hearted effort this season), and the patience to develop the young talent and watch it all come together.

Related Links:
STH Conference Call Transcript - Marcus Thompson
Warriors PR director confirms he authored anonymous blog comment - Tim Kawakami

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