What now for the Warriors?

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Thumbnail image for New Warriors Logo.jpgIt’s a new day for Golden State.

Nothing was going to change for the struggling franchise until the ownership changed.

Now that’s done — Joseph Lacob and Peter Guber are out in front of a group that has agreed to terms to buy team. They paid a record $450 million and that was enough to edge out what Larry Ellison was willing to pay (and he had $450 million in the glove box of his car).

Warriors fans, this is a good thing — Lacob is a minority owner of the Celtics. (A share he has to sell.) He has seen how good ownership works first hand. Ownership that has won a title. That experience matters. Winning franchises start with ownership

So now what?

First lets get the rumor out of the way — the team isn’t going anywhere. There are those that saw Guber is the chairman of Mandalay Entertainment, and saw the story about a team possibly moving to Las Vegas, and made a leap. Mandalay Entertainment is not the people that own the Vegas hotel. Totally different companies.

Plus, nobody sane is moving the Warriors out of the Bay Area — that is one of the wealthiest areas of the nation. It is a large and basketball-loving market. Las Vegas is smaller and is still being stung deeply by the recession. It’s more likely the new owners will partner with the Giants and others to build a new arena that could generate more revenue.

After that, it’s time to get the on-the-court product improved. That means time to clean house in the front office. The Warriors need a change direction. Out goes Don Nelson and his right hand, GM Larry Riley. Their team building methods have alienated talented rookies.

This cannot happen until the sale is finalized and the papers signed, likely August or later. Which is close to the start of camps and the season, when it may be hard to find the best candidates. But I still think you need to be decisive with a change and start making contacts now so a change can be swift when it happens.

There are some great GMs now available — Kevin Pritchard and Jeff Bower are two. Plus some other guys whose names you may not know but who could do the job, like Rich Cho, the number two man in Oklahoma City.

Get a GM, who gets a coach. It doesn’t matter so much what the exact direction of the team is on the court, just that a direction is chosen and talent built to fit it. Right now the patterns are hard to figure (which is being kind to a team that let Morrow walk).

The passionate Warriors fan base has been waiting. Now is the first day of the rest of their franchise

Report: Jimmy Butler-Timberwolves meeting moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles

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Jimmy Butler and Tom Thibodeau are meeting today, not necessarily for Butler to express his desire to leave the Timberwolves – but maybe!

This is a huge meeting with big ramifications for Minnesota and even across the league. Every detail is subject to inspection until we know more.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Butler, like many NBA players, spends his summers near Los Angeles. The meeting being held there could be for numerous potential reasons.

But it feels significant Thibodeau is coming to Butler’s turf rather than the other way around.

Without better options, Heat settle for sentimentality

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

Dwyane Wade took discounts from the Heat for years, seemingly expecting a larger windfall down the road.

It won’t come.

But Wade and Miami will enjoy one last dance together.

Wade is re-signing with the Heat on a one-year minimum contract he said would be for his final season, concluding a nostalgic summer in Miami. The Heat also re-signed local legend Udonis Haslem to another one-year minimum deal.

I wouldn’t expect much from either player on the court. If anything, Wade might prove destructive if the the 36-year-old uses his cachet to assume a larger role than he should handle. Haslem has barely played the last couple years, and that probably won’t change.

Still, there’s something to be said for proper sendoffs. Considering the high standards Wade and Haslem helped set for the franchise by winning three championships, this was unlikely to be a banner year in Miami, anyway. There’s value in honoring Wade and Haslem one more time.

Mostly, the Heat acted like a solid, stuck team this summer – because that’s what they are. That probably contributed to them not rewarding Wade for his prior sacrifice.

Yet, Miami eclipsed the luxury-tax line to sign Wayne Ellington, a helpful cog, to a one-year, $6.27 million deal. The tax isn’t assessed until the final day of the regular season, so there’s still plenty of time for the Heat to dodge it. In fact, I predict they will. But by at least temporarily exceeding the tax line, Miami gave itself its best chance of maintaining its level of play.

The Heat sure didn’t upgrade, though. They made no draft picks and didn’t touch their mid-level exception. Their only outside addition to receive a guaranteed salary was Derrick Jones Jr., who signed a minimum contract with a second year unguaranteed. The 21-year-old athlete is a worthwhile flier, but he sure isn’t a difference maker.

Neither are Wade and Haslem anymore – outside of our fond memories of the pair, and that counts for something. Just not enough to change Miami’s trajectory.

Offseason grade: C

Report: Jimmy Butler ‘isn’t dead set’ on demanding trade from Timberwolves

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Jimmy Butler says he’ll meet with the Timberwolves today – not yesterday, as initially reported.

The far bigger issue: What will happen in the meeting?

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

I’m told, though, that while Butler has serious questions about the direction of the franchise, he’s still willing to hear Minnesota out, and isn’t dead set on demanding a trade elsewhere.

Butler probably wouldn’t demand a trade. That gets players fined. Paul George laid out a far more likely roadmap last offseason: Butler could inform Minnesota he won’t re-sign next offseason. Left to their own devices, the Timberwolves would probably trade him.

But would it get to even that point? That’s the big question looming over the day. If Butler hasn’t yet made up his mind, that would give Tom Thibodeau a chance to convey a plan.

Of course, this isn’t entirely up to Butler, either. If Minnesota must choose between Butler and Karl-Anthony Townswho reportedly won’t sign his rookie-scale extension until the Butler situation is handled – Butler could get dealt regardless of what he wants.

So much could come to a head today, but apparently there isn’t an inevitable outcome. Is Butler leaning a certain way, though? “Isn’t dead set” on demanding a trade isn’t exactly a huge vote of confidence.

Marcus Smart posts heartfelt tribute to mother, who died Sunday

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Marcus Smart delivered one of my favorite quotes after the Celtics beat the Rockets last season:

Smart — when asked if he prides himself in being “a pain in the ass” — chuckled.

“I guess you could say that,” Smart said. “My mom might say that. But nah, I play defense with passion, and defense wins games, and that was proven tonight.”

A deep love is the subtext behind that quip. Smart put it on display again – unfortunately after the death of Camellia Smart, who had been battling cancer.

Smart:

Smart plays with such heart, passion and toughness. If his mother were his role model, he honors her every time he takes the court.