To me, the Golden State Warriors are starting to look a lot like the Corleone family. You remember, from “The Godfather.” Bear with me and we’ll get to it.
Golden State was about as poorly run a basketball operation as there has been in the NBA for two decades. The franchise has made the playoffs once in the past 17 years in a league where more than half the teams make the playoffs.
New owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are trying to change the culture with this franchise, and that has things like bringing in new COO Rick Welts from Phoenix.
It also means a basketball operations shake up. Jerry West is in a board member, Bob Meyers is in as the assistant GM that everyone knows will have Larry Riley’s GM job in a few seasons. Lacob himself will be in on every decision and his son Kirk Lacob is the GM of the Warriors D-League team (the Dakota Wizards) and is the guy who will eventually run the team. Then there is Mark Jackson, the coach with a loud voice in the organization.
Matt Steinmetz breaks that all down over at CSNBayArea.com then asks a really good question:
Most important, do the Warriors’ decision-makers have the ability to work together? They have an abundance of voices, but do they have focus? Here’s the real question: Is this group a hodgepodge of talent or a team put together with chemistry in mind?
I see this almost as Corleone crime family power structure from the Godfather movies (one and two, we don’t speak about three in my household). Lacob is Vito, the head of the family and the ultimate decision maker. Jerry West is the consigliere. Riley and Meyers are captains, although we all know Meyers eventually gets Riley out of the way. And Kirk is a young Michael Corleone. Or Sonny. Or Fredo. We don’t know yet, the book is still out on him. Maybe Mark Jackson is Sonny.
That power structure can work — the Corleone family did quite well — as long as there is good communication and everyone is playing their roles. The first time somebody makes a power play this could get ugly. Although after the Cohen years, Warriors fans are used to ugly.
The No. 28 pick, R.J. Hunter became the first first-rounder from last year’s draft to fall out of the NBA when the Celtics waived him.
He won’t be out of the league for long.
The Bulls, the only team with an open roster spot, appear close to adding him.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Hunter belongs in the league. Though he must knock down shots far more reliably than he has, Hunter has potential as an outside shooter with complementary ball skills to provide value. Boston just had more NBA-caliber players than roster spots.
He’s far from a lock to succeed in the NBA, but I value Hunter about as much as Tony Snell – whom the Bulls just traded for an upgrade at backup point guard in Michael Carter-Williams. That they could so cheaply replace Snell makes that deal look even better.
Gerald Green was drafted by the Celtics and spent two seasons with them before being traded (in the Kevin Garnett deal).
After stints with the Timberwolves, Rockets, Mavericks, Nets, Pacers, Suns and Heat, he signed with Boston this summer.
Think he’s happy to be back?
Abby Chin of CSN Mid-Atlantic:
Joel Embiid couldn’t endear himself by playing in an NBA game, because he’s been too injured to do that in two pro seasons.
He’s had to resort to witty nicknames, practice-gym dunks, fun-loving stunts, attention-seeking tweets and self-deprecating humor.
Embiid is scheduled to make his NBA debut tonight, when the 76ers play the Thunder. Soon, we’ll judge him more for what he does on the court.
But, first, Embiid went out with one last bang of a quote.
Embiid, via Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated:
“You know how I learned to shoot?” Embiid says. “I watched white people. Just regular white people. They really put their elbow in and finish up top. You can find videos of them online.”
LeBron James might be the greatest athlete in NBA history.
But even he has shown signs of decline at age 31.
He has gotten multiple back injections and even took a break during the season to rehabilitate in Miami. The forward has treated the last two regular-seasons as glorified warmups for the playoffs.
Just where does LeBron stand physically?
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue gave quite the answer.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
Lue said James, at 31, “had a chance to get tested this summer and they said he had a body of a 19-year old. Maybe he’s getting younger. Benjamin Button.”
It was a little perplexing because neither James, nor his personal trainer, Mike Mancias, nor general manager David Griffin had any real idea what test Lue was talking about.
This reminds me of Derrick Rose attributing the Knicks and Warriors being super teams to “They’re saying.” Who is they, and what are they smoking?
That LeBron, Mancias and Griffin won’t cop to knowing is quite revealing.
LeBron does not have the body of a 19-year-old. Years of other-worldly play and long playoff runs has taken a toll.
Because he’s declining from such a high peak, LeBron should remain elite for a while. His athleticism might even fluctuate as it trends downward overall.
But Father Time is undefeated, and LeBron didn’t just get a mid-career reset to his rookie physical form.