I like that Robert Rowell is barely visible, but the bad taste in the average fan's mouth won't go away until Cohan's right-hand man completely out of the picture. He serves as a constant reminder of the decades of losing and mismanagement most of us have endured. Sure, he didn't have a direct hand in most of the transactions the GM's struck, but he was responsible hiring the wrong people in the first place. I'm not sure if he was the main person responsible for negotiating contracts as Team President, but if so, that supports the case of his removal as well. Regardless, those offenses happened under his watch. As reported by Warriors beat writers, Rowell was directly involved in the unwise and unnecessary contract extension of Stephen Jackson which later backfired when, predictably, Jackson went rouge and demanded a trade after getting his money. His increased involvement in the basketball side of the business was an utter and complete failure. Fans couldn't help but feel that the main objective for the Warriors franchise was to sell tickets and not strive to assemble the Championship caliber team it's fans were dying for.
I hope Lacob understands that and is searching for a replacement. Rowell could claim as much credit as he wants for the continued financial success of a 1-year-in-20 playoff franchise, but the fact is that the Bay Area LOVES it's basketball, and the fan base will support the Warriors despite Rowell's perceived 'marketing magic.' Keep what's working marketing-wise and hire a fresh, new star ready to break into the realm of sports marketing. A person from the outside would be preferable, but promoting a deserving, hard-working executive from within could be acceptable IF they understand that WINNING should dictate basketball moves, not ticket sales. Separation of Business and Basketball are important (though sometimes intertwined). Building a contender comes first. Enhancing the fan experience comes second and should not get in the way of derailing a vision (i.e. pushing to keep a popular player even though doing so won't allow you to make significant strides towards legitimacy; winning meaningless games towards the end of the season, causing the team miss out on better draft prospects, getting pressured into making a bad deal just to bring in a big name).
Sometimes a team needs to be bad in the short term, to be good in the long run. A hit in marketing during a strong draft could put the Warriors on the fast-track to success. But when business success takes precedence over the team's success, mediocrity is inevitable. That being said, I wouldn't expect the Warriors to 'tank' until ownership has established a winning culture and has gained the trust of the most loyal fan base in all of the NBA. They should try to win with what they have while not making deals that would handcuff them when it comes to financial flexibility. I believe Lacob is on the right track: improve incrementally, gain financial flexibility, and pounce on a deal when it presents itself. It will take time and patience, and it may lead to fan discontent, but making foolish moves just to quiet the critics will only serve to sustain the mediocrity and failure we have suffered through from decades.
Bottom line: Although Rowell has been relegated to only the Business side of things, a new face at the top is necessary to prove that the new ownership is not just a repackaged version of the past.
Tim Kawakami - Robert Rowell’s 25 fire-able offenses as Warriors colossus
Adam Lauridsen - In Defense of Robert Rowell (Sort Of)
Matt Steinmetz - It's clear team president Robert Rowell is making some of Warriors' basketball decisions