‘We’re never going to bottom out’


‘We’re never going to bottom out’

Generally speaking, success does not last forever in the NBA. Talented teams break up. Dynasties end. If you’re running a team that is in championship contention, you spend as much money as you’re allowed and steal from your future in order to maximize your short-term odds of winning it all. Eventually, inevitably, when you can’t see a path to the top, you must accept reality. This often means going all the way to the bottom.

Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob, however, rejects this life cycle. He believes that the Warriors are an exception to the rule and that they have an “ace in the hole,” Lacob told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes.

“We are the Golden State Warriors,” Lacob said. “I believe in the culture. I believe that word gets out. I could go on and on. I’m not trying to brag. I’m just saying, that’s who we are.

“We’re never going to bottom out. I won’t settle for that. We’re not doing that.”

Lacob is not exactly guaranteeing that the Warriors will never be near the bottom of the standings under his watch. He is saying, though, that he believes they will never have to go there intentionally. In discussing the “tough path” they tried to walk with the two-timeline plan (i.e. developing Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and the since-traded No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman while competing for championships), Lacob described himself as an owner “who doesn’t want to ever be in the lottery, ever.”

He added, “We don’t want to be bad. We don’t want to go through a transition. I just can’t do that.”

Lacob is always thinking big, and he is confident that Golden State can attract top talent. Just before the Feb. 8 trade deadline, he reportedly called Jeanie Buss, the owner of Los Angeles Lakers, to ask about a potential LeBron James trade. (ESPN reported that neither James nor the Lakers were interested.) The team’s dream scenario is somehow landing Giannis Antetokounmpo, and it will explore any avenue it might have to get James, Paul George, or even ex-Warrior Kevin Durant, according to The Athletic.

“I’m not going to comment on something I can’t comment on, but, in general, I just want to win,” Lacob told ESPN. “We just want to win. We want to be the best, and we’re going to try whatever tactic it takes to get there. I am not here to screw around. We are not here to screw around. We are not here to be just ‘some team.’ We’re not going to do that. We may fail. Everyone fails. We may fail occasionally, but it will not be for lack of trying.”

As always, you can either commend Lacob on his confidence and competitiveness or clown him for his cockiness. The “we may fail” bit indicates that he doesn’t think the Warriors are infallible, but there is some arrogance inherent in any team-building plan that dismisses both being in the lottery and being just “some team.” The precise reason that franchises like the Oklahoma City Thunder have decided to build through the draft is that they didn’t want to be just “some team.”

Stephen Curry turns 36 next month, and it’s totally rational that Golden State does not want to think about rebuilding in the near future. It is possible that the team, which is 27-26 but has won eight of its past 10 games, will go on a post-All-Star run and establish itself as a legitimate title contender again this season. It is also possible that the front office will find a way to add another star and extend the Warriors’ championship window. If either of those things happen, though, it will be an incredible feat and a testament to Curry’s sustained brilliance. The NBA’s new collective-bargaining agreement has made it more difficult than ever to keep teams together (and improve expensive rosters), and Lacob himself recently said the Warriors would like to get out of the luxury tax next season.

As determined as Lacob might be to win, at some point – maybe in a few months, maybe only after Curry retires – he and the Warriors will likely find themselves in an extremely uncomfortable position: No shot at a title, with a choice between two unappealing options: rebuilding and mediocrity. No team, not even the San Antonio Spurs, who long served as their model, has been able to avoid this in perpetuity.

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