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.
We’ve seen this movie before.
There is all sorts of buzz around the league that LeBron James has one foot out the door in Cleveland. While people around LeBron denied he the rumor he is “100 percent” leaving, good luck finding any league source who thinks he is staying put next summer. Nothing is set in stone, his options — including staying — remain open, but we’ve all been down this road before.
The hometown fans are going to do their part to urge LeBron to stay.
Fan sentiment has some pull with LeBron (he came back to win the city a title). However, what matters more is a sense of a plan to keep the Cavaliers as title contenders for the coming years — and that is more than just Dan Gilbert paying the tax. The Cavs did nothing this summer that got them closer to beating Golden State, and while they swung for the fences with Paul George, what they really needed was wing defenders and athletes, and they didn’t get those either. Luc Mbah a Moute signed a one-year deal for the minimum somewhere else. Instead, Cleveland overpaid Kyle Korver.
Despite all that, the Cavs remain the team to beat in the East. If Cleveland gets to the Finals — LeBron’s eighth in a row — and they win or make it close, he may see staying as his best option. A season can be a lifetime in the NBA in terms of shifting attitudes. Still, I wouldn’t bet the rent on it.
The Los Angeles Clippers have 14 fully guaranteed contracts on their roster, plus a partial guarantee for DeAndre Liggins (who likely is on the roster opening day). They also are pretty much set at center with DeAndre Jordan and Willie Reed (plus when they go small they can play Blake Griffin there, something I wish they’d do a little more).
That said, Doc Rivers — just a coach now — needs bodies for camp, so in comes former Duke star and Knick Marshall Plumlee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Plumlee played in 21 games for the Knicks last season, logging a total of 190 minutes. He bounced between New York and the D-League Westchester Knicks, when down he averaged 12.3 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.
He’s not making the Clippers’ squad (barring injury), but he could show well and get noticed by other teams. Over the course of a season, there will be a need for bigs as guys go down injured, Plumlee is getting a chance to show how his game has developed. And he makes some money in the process.
Much like Kevin Durant, it appears that Kawhi Leonard is having a great summer.
In fact, this appears to be the Summer of Kawhi Smiling. Which, according to one of his longtime teammates, is a bit confusing.
When the Spurs posted a photo of Leonard with a big old grin on his face to their Twitter feed recently, San Antonio legend Manu Ginobili responded asking the team whether something was up.
Specifically, Ginobili said that he had seen more photos of Leonard smiling in the past two days then he had in six seasons as a teammate.
You can leave an anonymous tip about why Kawhi Leonard is smiling so much by contacting the produce manager at your local H-E-B.
“He played 20 years … I mean, yeah I guess.”
That’s what Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball had to say in this video after learning that Kobe Bryant was the all-time leader in steals for his franchise. You have to hand it to him, it is a little surprising. Even more surprising is that Bryant has 220 more than Magic Johnson at No. 2.
In a video posted to YouTube by Complex on Saturday, rookies tried to answer questions similar to the one Ball pondered over, like what team drafted their head coach, who the NBA all-time leading scorer is, and what day the first game of the season starts on.
A lot of the responses were pretty funny, including the guys getting wrong what year Adam Silver became NBA commissioner. Poor David Stern has already been forgotten about!
Meanwhile, Ball looked the sharpest. He’s going to come in handy when the Lakers play pub trivia.