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FILE - This Aug. 13, 2010, file photo shows Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Jerry West, representing the 1960 USA Olympic Team, speaking during the enshrinement news conference at the Hall of Fame Museum in Springfield, Mass. The Golden State Warriors hired West on Friday, May 20, 2011, to work with the front-office team in an advisory role and be a member of the executive board. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

If there are two things I think I know pretty well, it's 1) the Warriors of the past decade or so and 2) Jerry West, and these two things could not be more diametrically opposite in styles.

  • Warriors: Insular, back-biting, risk-averse, obsessed with secrecy, financial security, short-term goals and short-term ticket-sales.

  • West: Instinctive, off-the-cuff, emotional, garrulous, brilliant, incredibly well-connected and determined to take risks if the bigger victory is within reach.

    And now these two entities are joined, with West joining the Warriors' executive board, along with several key minority owners -- West is announced to be involved in "wide-ranging capacities," and reporting directly to co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber.

    My mind is still reeling. This is different. I hope the Warriors' employees (and media, too) is braced for this.

    This is wholly different from what the Warriors have been for years, and it's the clearest sign yet that Lacob is intent to sweep out the political clutter that he inherited when he took over the Warriors.

    Lacob has at times defended Larry Riley as a perfectly capable GM and Robert Rowell as a strong business-side president, but the additions of Bob Myers and West tell us more:

    Lacob knew he had to beef up his executive brainpower, and he has done it dramatically.

    The rest of the league has noticed.

    Now we still don't know what West's precise role will be on basketball matters, and the Warriors probably don't know yet, either.


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    It's something they'll work out between Lacob, Riley, Myers, Kirk Lacob and West.

    The Warriors are stressing that West is not coming in to run the basketball shop, and, at 72, I don't think West has a deep interest in doing any of that any more.

    He doesn't want to hire the coach, make the draft pick, negotiate deals, take the temperature of the locker room"...

    But West has an abiding interest in how all these things fit together -- I've never been around any exec who had a better feel for it -- and that's what the Warriors have been missing for a while now.

    The Warriors have done things reactively, especially since Rowell moved out Chris Mullin. No plan, all reactions, which is how you run aground in the fast-moving NBA.

    West is a way for Lacob to step back and survey the entire landscape. And it won't just be West -- he's not moving from L.A., nor should he.

    He will be a voice. And when you bring in Jerry West's voice, it rings in the streets, if I can paraphrase "The Wire."

    Maybe he has three or four interesting things to say about the Warriors' coach-candidate list. Maybe he sees one or two subtle things during the pre-draft workouts. (He's the best talent-evaluator the NBA has seen in the last 30 years. That is not in question.)

    Maybe West asks Lacob, do you really think you can play good defense with Monta Ellis, Steph Curry and David Lee in the starting line-up? And maybe Lacob listens.

    Maybe West can help close a big business deal or discuss the bigger particulars of a move to San Francisco.

    Lacob will listen. Lacob should listen. He wouldn't have brought West in if he wasn't going to listen, and value the words.

  • It's also interesting that West has always been tacitly attached to a Larry Ellison prospective NBA ownership (West acknowledges conversations with Ellison a while back), and yet West now lands with Lacob.

  • But West is 72, so I can see him thinking that, even if this ends his prospective relationship with Ellison (which it probably does), he wasn't going to wait another two or three years to see what shakes out with Ellison and a potential San Jose franchise.

  • Or Jerry is good at this: He can see how this works, and if it doesn't, he's still an option for something else down the road.

    I can tell you West will not couch his opinions. I covered him for his last two years running the Lakers, and I can guarantee you, my ears still ache at the memory of a few of our conversations.

    But we also had some tremendous conversations. Many, many of them.

    I can also tell you that the snarky commentary about Memphis dealing Pau Gasol to the Lakers for a package including Kwame Brown's expiring contract. "... and that West might immediately try to send Curry to the Lakers"...

    Is just silly.

    West is not in it to covertly pump up the Lakers -- if you know his rocky relationship with Jerry Buss, you would definitely know West's mission is NOT to deliver anything to the Lakers.

    First, West wasn't the Grizzlies' GM when that deal happened -- West's contract had expired and he was a consultant; Chris Wallace was the GM who made that deal.

    Second "... that deal didn't turn out so horrendously for Memphis: They got Marc Gasol (very good young center), draft picks that turned into Darrell Arthur and Greivis Vasquez, and the expiring Kwame money helped give them flexibility to add budget in the future.

    I'm all too happy to criticize execs for bad deals, but that one wasn't West's, and it wasn't horrendous, either.

    Bringing him onboard is no guarantee that the Warriors have it all figured out, or that they will be in the playoffs soon.

    As NBA source after NBA source repeated to me yesterday, as I checked out the West developments: With or without West, with or without a top coaching hire, the Warriors need better players, period.

    But the West addition tells us that Joe Lacob understands what was lacking in his front office, and that he is more than willing to go far from the Warriors' norm to fix it.

    Jerry West was interested in becoming the Warriors president/GM in 2001, after he quit the Lakers and before he landed in Memphis. But Chris Cohan couldn't do it, because West would've wanted to clean house, and Cohan's lieutenants made sure that wouldn't happen.

    West isn't going to run basketball ops or personally clean house with the Warriors now.

    But isn't it interesting that Lacob might be doing the house-cleaning anyway, and that West's voice will be ringing throughout the franchise while it happens?

    Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5442.